Recycling in the Garden
Working in a spring garden.

The temperatures are heating up and we are well past the date of the last frost, which means many of us are spending a lot of time in our flowerbeds or in the garden. If you are like me, you spend a lot of time combing the internet looking for ideas to beautify your yard or researching which vegetables you want to plant, and a lot less time actively thinking about recycling. And yet, garden recycling is a great way to help the environment while saving money.

Mother Nature’s Recycling Methods

When you think of recycling in the garden, one of the most common ways that comes to mind is composting. Composting is nature’s way of recycling your kitchen scraps and garden waste into a soil additive used as fertilizer. And it’s not hard to do. By making a “lasagna” style compost pile and layering nitrogen rich “greens” with carbon rich “browns” and adding air and water, you will have a rich fertilizer to feed your plants. And it costs you nothing while keeping food scraps and grass clippings out of the landfill.

No room outside for a compost pile or composter? No worries! Poke a few holes in a tote and add shredded paper, water, a handful of dirt, and some red wiggler worms, and you have a worm farm that will turn your scraps into a rich fertilizer in a fraction of the time a traditional composter takes. And the best part is that you can keep it in the house in a cool dark place and if done correctly, there will be no smell or pests.

Other Ways to Recycle in the Garden

While composting and vermicomposting are the most used forms of recycling in the garden, there are many other ways to recycle in our garden. Many of our everyday household items can be put to a new use in our flower beds and vegetable gardens. Whether it’s using your imagination to come up with unique garden art, or its finding more practical uses for common items, there is a place for just about anything in the garden!  Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

Milk Jugs- Empty jugs can be cut and shaped to create anything from garden tools and bird feeders to plant cloches.

Newspapers and Cardboard Boxes- Line flower beds or garden rows with newspapers or flattened boxes and top with mulch or soil to create a weed barrier that will break down over time.

Cardboard tubes- Use the centers from toilet paper rolls and paper towels to create compostable pots for starting seeds that can be planted right in the ground. Or create a bird feeder using peanut butter and birdseed.

Old Mailboxes- Drill a hole in one end to create a birdhouse that can be cleaned out after each occupant.

Recycled Materials as a Trellis- Old screen doors, fencing, lamp stands, or even umbrellas frames can be used as a trellis for your vining plants and will add a whimsical feel to your garden.

As you can see, there are many ways to use recycled items in your garden. Whether it has a practical use, or becomes a piece of art, you can help our planet and beautify your yard all at once!


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