Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Keep your Garden Green: Reusing in your Backyard

It's Spring again (finally!) and that means that across the city, people are getting outside, waking up their yards after a long sleep, and getting ready for the gardening season.

We live in a rough climate, and chances are that your planters, pots, trellises and stakes are all a little worse for wear if you've left them outside over the winter. Garden centres do booming business this time of year, and not just on plants, as folks replace their old containers, tools, and garden decorations.  New items might make our backyards and flowerbeds look beautiful, but with a little creativity, you can have a gorgeous garden for less, AND reduce your environmental impact.

Whether you've got a sprawling backyard or a few manageable pots on your balcony, here are some of my favourite ideas for reuse in your planting spaces this summer:

Get creative with planters.

There is no rule that says you must grow your plants in pots. As a former florist, I can tell you that anything that holds dirt will do, as long as you make a few considerations for plant health. Don't use metals that will rust unless you have a liner in place, and make sure your plants have adequate drainage. This means that if your container doesn't have holes in the bottom, a) make some or b) fill the bottom inch or two with rocks and take care not to over water.

Check out this site for 30 great reuse and DIY planter ideas.

Use found or reused lumber for wood projects.

Want to know how to build this awesome walkway? Check out the tutorial at Funky Junk Interiors.

Pallets are a reuse gardener's best friend. You can make furniture, planters, or use the wood to make fences or square off garden beds. Here in Edmonton, Habitat for Humanity's ReStore is a great place to get re-use or cast-off construction materials.

Make your own garden markers.

From popsicle sticks to venetian blinds, juice can lids to painted stones, there are a ton of ways to make markers for your plants. These are a great way to get the whole family involved in taking care of a home garden.

Check out Housing a Forest's 27 DIY Garden Markers for a list of tutorials.

Don't forget the critters.

You can attract birds and other wildlife to your outdoor spaces with funky, functional feeders and houses. Not only will they make your outdoor spaces look pretty, but attracting wildlife can improve your garden experience by keeping your insect and pest levels down.

Check out these 23 upcycled bird feeder ideas and this list of 20 birdhouse tutorials.

You can also build an easy bee house out of reuse materials. These little houses attract solitary pollinators; these bees will improve your flowerbeds without the aggressive behaviour of hive-bees.


This isn't reuse in the way we typically think of it, but composting your organic materials, from veggie peelings and rotten fruit, to kleenex and dryer lint, is one of the best ways that you can reduce your garden's environmental footprint.
Not only will you be returning valuable nutrients to the soil, but you'll eliminate the need to use chemical fertilizers on your plants and produce.

These are just a small number of reuse ideas for your outdoor spaces this summer; the possibilities really are endless. Get creative, and share your favourite ideas for reuse in the garden in the comments below!

-Sarah (Volunteer)