Recycling in the Garden
Q: What do an old chair, unused pottery, and scraps from the dinner table have in common?
A: They can all be given a second life in the garden!
An eco-friendly backyard that makes use of composted food scraps and recycled various other objects offers many benefits. One, biodegradable waste produces incredibly rich, fertile soil. Two, the reuse of household items can cut down on your waste disposal bill and won’t contribute to the growing landfills. And three, being resourceful with your things might just reduce your spending habits while presenting myriad opportunities for you to flex your mental muscles.
(Finally… being the McGyver of the garden is never a bad thing for your survival skills. Just think: today you’re fashioning a bean trellis from an old swing set… tomorrow you’re leaping from a moving car. Just kidding of course.)
Naturally, the extent to which you’re willing to cultivate an eco-friendly backyard of recycled items depends on your level of dedication as well as how much time and energy you have to spare. For some gardeners, composted orange peels and coffee grinds are only just the beginning, but for others, it’s all they can muster. Anything you can contribute is a good thing!
To start thinking like a true, eco-friendly gardener, take a look in and around your home for things you’re ready to part with and how they might be transformed. For example, an antique bathtub that’s used as a planter for jasmine or passionflower is a good starting point for a backyard full of whimsy and intrigue. A broken wooden crate can be a place for compost or a budding flower bed. Three-day-old leftovers can go into the compost pile, which will enrich the soil and provide more dinners in the future.
Open your mind to the possibility of how you might repurpose this so-called trash as a low- or no-cost way to enhance the landscape. Now imagine if everyone embraced such a frugal mindset. Are you starting to recognize how greatly we could impact life on planet Earth for the better?
Below you’ll find some Commonly Asked Questions about recycling in the garden, with helpful answers from The Yard Fairy.
(If you have a question that you’d like featured in an upcoming blog post or article, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Recycling in the Garden: Q&A
I don’t have many extra things lying around the house. What can I do to recycle in my garden?
Not everyone has spare wooden crates or even old work boots lying around the house to be recycled, and if that’s the case, good for you! Maybe that means you’re frugal in your spending habits, only buying what you need or feel you can really use.
If you still wish to do your part for the earth, compost might be the solution. Families throw away literally pounds of food per week, often regardless of whether it’s truly gone bad. (Think about how often you scrape plates of dinner that someone didn’t want to eat right into the garbage). While there is a good amount of food that should not be composted, such as dairy or meat, over half the food thrown away has its purpose creating rich soil in the garden.
What types of foods should I compost?
Fruits and vegetables, including the peels, stalks and other waste
Any baked goods that involve flour
Any type of grain such as rice, potatoes, cornmeal, couscous, etc.
Tea or coffee grounds
Stale herbs and spices
Any boxed pantry food
If that’s too long a list to remember, then think of it this way: if it comes from the ground, it can be returned to the ground.
Are there any foods that I should NOT compost? Why?
Do not compost meat or fish leftovers, any dairy products, or any greases or oils. Not only do these materials break down more slowly, they are not needed for plants to grow and would instead make the compost smell worse and possibly attract vermin.
What method should I use to compost food waste in my kitchen?
To compost food scraps in your household, any bucket or bin with a lid will work. Place your compost bucket of sight under the sink, in a pantry, or just leave it on the edge of a counter. Simply throw into the bucket any leftover food that won’t be eaten. Empty your compost bucket into the compost heap in your backyard on a daily basis or however often needed. The food scraps can stay in the bucket for longer periods of time, it’ll just simply begin to decompose in there. However, if unpleasant odors are a concern, then you may want to empty your bucket more frequently. Maybe even store the bucket in the fridge with a label on it so people know not to sample what’s in there!
I do have a good amount of stuff lying around, any suggestions?
If you find yourself with a surplus of stuff in your garage or around the house, come up with ways to put it to creative use! Worn out tires, broken chairs, and unused buckets can all get a second chance in a home garden and even add a bit of an eclectic feel to the back or front yard.
What to do with recycled tires
If you find yourself with an old tire, consider using it as a makeshift pot for flowers or other various plants. Simply stack 2 or more tires together, or leave one by itself in a section of the garden and fill it with soil. Place the bottom of the tire on fresh soil and don’t use any type of a liner. Think of a tire as a bottomless flower pot that you need only add the right amount of fertilizer or compost to. Once the plants are fully grown or ready to harvest, you can keep reusing the tire as many times as desired.
Plastic barrels for rainwater recycling
A larger plastic barrel that is no longer needed can be used to collect rainwater. Any size barrel will do, and need only be fully intact with no cracks or holes anywhere along the surface. Place the barrel in an open area and it should fill in due time. As there is always the possibility of debris falling into the water, it’s best used to water your garden and plants.
Old furniture can work as a creative plant stand
Any older pieces of furniture can be re-used in the garden as plant stands or a climber for ivy. Perhaps you have a dining room chair that no longer suits your home’s style or is the last of its set. Place the chair in a strategic spot outside and arrange some smaller potted plants in and around it. A collection of herbs might look nice grouped together at base of the chair, with a larger pot of one type of plant placed on the chair’s seat to be admired by all.
Broken ladders make perfect ivy climbers
A broken ladder can be made stable again and then used as a climber for ivy or other climbing plants. As long as the legs allow it to stand, the ladder can recycled. Place the climbing plant such as ivy or clematis in middle of the four legs of the ladder and train it to wrap around the ladder’s legs. If your old ladder is unstable, it’s probably unsafe to use in the garden and would be best appreciated as recycled material or lumber.
Of course, the above ideas are just a starting point for the many ways you can recycle in the garden. Really, just about anything can be given a new life, whether as a plant stand, plant container, or even just an eclectic decoration. If you can think of a way to use a bucket or an older piece of furniture, then go for it!