Garden Upcycling Ideas: Learn About Upcycling In The Garden

Boots Used As Flower Pots
upcycled pots
(Image credit: qualitygurus)

Nationwide recycling programs have opened the eyes of most consumers. The sheer amount of junk we throw away annually is rapidly exceeding our storage capacity for said junk. Enter repurposing, upcycling, and other useful practices. What is garden upcycling? The practice is similar to repurposing where unique and fanciful ideas are realized by using cast off items. This is an opportunity to think big and crazy while saving interesting artifacts and reducing our landfill loads.

What is Garden Upcycling?

Upcycled garden projects are all over sites like Etsy, Pinterest, and others. Creative gardeners are eager to share their artistic approach to recycling in the garden. All it takes are a few interesting items and some crafting ingredients along with an interest in creating new forms of art work. We aren't all artists, but with some guidance even the novice can fashion some fun and quirky statements for the landscape. Take an old, broken child's bike, for instance. What can you do with it other than throw it away? You can paint it bright colors, install a planter or basket at the handle bars and park it amongst a wildflower garden. You can make a garden bench out of an old dresser or a planter out of a rusty toolbox. Such cast off items are now being viewed with new eyes. Instead of throwing items away, it is popular to consider them in a new light and add some paint, fabric, flowers, or any other items that peak your fancy. Many garden upcycling ideas start with items around the house and a need for something. All you need is a little imagination and a few additional decorating items and you are on your way.

Garden Upcycling Ideas

One of the biggest hits for garden upcycling has been the humble pallet. These wooden rafts are all over the place, discarded and unused. People have turned them into patios, planters, wall hangings, tables, benches, and many more items. Other common garbage that has been repurposed creatively may be:

  • a toilet
  • an old fashioned milk pail
  • mason jars
  • mismatched dishes
  • utensils
  • tires
  • old nursery pots

Decorated flower pots, sun catchers, personalized garden art, and sculptures, and even crop markers are just some of the upcycled garden projects utilizing these items. Think past your nose and make a set of wind chimes out of old spoons or paint old nursery pots, nestle them together, and plant strawberries out of a personalized planter. The ideas are just endless for upcycling in the garden.

Upcycled Garden Containers

For a gardener, one of the first projects to come to mind are upcycled garden containers.

  • One of the cutest is made using an old bird cage with a spill of charming succulents in the bottom. In fact, succulents are ideal for interesting containers.
  • Paint old tires vivid hues, stack them, and fill with dirt. This vertical planting area can be used for a cascade of flowers or veggies.
  • Use colanders to make hanging baskets or decorate an old dresser and plant in its drawers.
  • Whimsical items take on even more charm when plants are installed in them. Children's rain boots, shells, old tins, teapots, glassware, and more provide interesting planting options.
  • Upside down wine bottles with their bottoms cut off and suspended with wire can grow viney plants or garden starts with an elegance seldom found in a finished bottle of Merlot.

Dig around your basement or garage or scour yard sales to find objects that appeal to you. Then get out the paint, super glue, twine, glue gun, and any other decorating tools you need and go to town. Upcycling in the garden is a fun, family project that let's everyone put a special touch on your outdoor spaces.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.