Recycled Landscaping: How To Landscape With Recycled Materials

Potted Plants On Recycled Painted Pallets
(Image credit: tanyss)

Using recycled materials in landscaping is a ‘win-win’ idea. Instead of sending unused or broken household items to the landfill, you can use them as free additions for your backyard art or for practical purposes within the garden.

How do you get started reusing items in the landscape? Read on for information on how to landscape with recycled materials as well as lots of recycled backyard ideas.

Recycled Landscaping Mulch

Recycled landscaping can include any home waste you find a purpose for in the garden, including making mulch. Preparing your own mulch is cheaper than buying bags of processed mulch from the garden store. Making mulch is a great way to get started using recycled materials in landscaping.

Mulch can be made of anything that can be used to layer over soil. Ideally, the mulch decomposes into the soil over time. That means that any paper items you are throwing out can be added into your mulch, including newspaper and old cereal boxes.

In fact, all paper items you are tossing, including junk mail and bills, can also be shredded and added to your compost pile. While you are at it, use leaky garbage cans as compost bins.

Recycled Materials in Landscaping

When you are trying to think of recycled backyard ideas, don’t forget about planters. Many attractive containers are available for plants in commerce, but plants will grow in almost anything.

When you want to landscape with recycled materials, keep an eye out for jugs or containers you can grow plants in. Coffee cans, repurposed plastic milk jugs, and old aluminum or ceramic kitchen items can be used to grow plants.

The material doesn’t have to look like a traditional plant container. You can use aluminum ice cube trays, ice buckets, old kettles and tea pots, roasters, and even aluminum jello molds for house and porch plants. Use toilet paper rolls to start seeds, then just sink them into the ground when the seedlings are ready to plant.

Reusing Items in the Landscape

You can find an infinite number of ways to reuse different items in the landscape if you approach the task with imagination. Use old windows to make a greenhouse or hang them as garden art. Use rocks, broken concrete, or pieces of wood as garden bed borders. Glass bottles or salvaged metal can be used to build interesting walls.

Old wooden pallets can serve as the basis for vertical gardens, put old rugs on pathways and cover them with pebbles, and use Styrofoam peanuts in the bottoms of big planters to keep the weight down. You can even turn an old mailbox into a birdhouse.

Get creative and see just how many recycled garden landscaping ideas you can come up with as well.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.