Upcycled Garden Projects: Repurpose Old Items | Almanac.com

Upcycled Garden Projects: Repurpose Old Items


Garden Upcycling: Turn Trash into Treasures

Turn trash into treasure! Gardeners are a pretty thrifty bunch, and it’s in the garden where repurposing old items into new really comes into its own. From transforming tins into planters to repurposing old furniture for storing produce, there are countless ways to put worn-out or unwanted items to good use in the garden.

Upcycling Containers

All kinds of household and garden items make excellent containers. You’ll need to consider the depth of the container: an old cattle trough for instance can be used to grow all kinds of vegetables, while a spare length of guttering could be used for shallow-rooting crops such as strawberries and salad leaves. Make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom of any potential container, or drill more if necessary.

Beds, Borders  and Surfaces

Old bricks can be used to create the outline and spokes of a beautiful herb wheel, and reclaimed wood can be used to make raised beds. Not only do they look smart, raised beds provide better drainage and warm up earlier in spring.

Lay bricks to make hardwearing paths or patios, or use old paving slabs between beds to provide firm footing. Slabs or slates laid on their edge can be used to as edging for raised beds.

Stack bricks, stones or rocks and top with smooth sanded scraps of wood to make an attractive place to rest in the garden.

Protection and Supports

Home-made cold frames are always popular, and can be as simple as a polycarbonate sheet screwed to a wooden frame with hinges at the rear to make it easy to open and ventilate.

Pole beans and other vining crops look fantastic climbing up an arch made using plastic water pipe. Low tunnels and hoop houses can also be made from water pipe.

Bend flexible willow prunings into a frame for row covers, or into attractive plant supports.

Scare Away Birds

Tie old CDs onto string and suspend them above crops to startle birds. Alternatively, attach silver or colored tape to canes to flap in the wind, or stretch it over vulnerable crops. Making a scarecrow is a great way to get creative and frighten off birds too.

Attract Wildlife

Create cozy homes for beneficial bugs such as ground beetles and solitary bees using old pots, bricks, straw, twigs, cones and prunings.

Container ponds will help draw in slug-hungry frogs or toads. Place a layer of pebbles on the base, then add larger rocks to make it easy for animals to get into and out of the water. Aquatic plants provide food and habitat for many creatures, and look great.

Make an Apple Storage Bin

An old chest of drawers can be turned into a beautiful apple storage bin.  Draw circles about an inch in diameter at regular intervals over the unit. Cut them out using a hole saw drill bit. An apple storage bin like this will keep your apples dry, shaded and well-aired.

Plant Labels

Repurpose those seed catalogs into garden crafts and plant labels. If you don’t have any catalogs, ask a garden friend or neighbor. 

Using Old Wood

Pallets can be used to make compost bins. You can make a single bin, or build two (or more) together to provide a bay for adding compost to, and one to leave compost to mature in.

Or, lay a pallet on its side and paint it to convert it into a gorgeous vertical planter.

If you live close to the ocean, collect driftwood to make a truly individual rustic fence or other wooden structure.

Finally, don’t throw those fireplaces ashes out. See how to use wood ashes in the garden.

Love these ideas? Subscribe to the Almanac Garden Planner, the best garden planning tool on Earth. Try for free for seven days—ample time to try planning a garden.

About The Author

Jennifer Keating

Jennifer is the Associate Digital Editor at The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She is an active equestrian and spends much of her free time at the barn. When she’s not riding, she loves caring for her collection of house plants, baking, and playing in her gardens. Read More from Jennifer Keating

2023 Gardening Club

Dianne Kadonaga (not verified)

1 year 5 months ago

I've been taking the leaves of the iris and daylily plants and weaving or braiding them into little natural bowls, or cording the bark of rose mallow hibiscus and making Christmas gifts that do not have plastic packaging or transportation and at the end of their life cycle use, can be composted right back into the garden.

Anne (not verified)

1 year 12 months ago

Farmer's Almanac wrote: Container ponds will help draw in slug-hungry frogs or toads. Question: What is a container pond? ty~

They are simply containers (such as a plastic take-out container) that are sunken into the ground and filled partway with pebbles and water!

Nancy Clark (not verified)

4 years ago

I have an odd weed that springs up in my garden and haven't been able to identify it. I can take a picture of it but don't know how/where to send it to you.

Mary (not verified)

5 years 10 months ago

I love all of your gardening tips and ideas. please subscribe me

Anne (not verified)

1 year 12 months ago

In reply to by Mary (not verified)

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