10 materials that can be reused for landscaping

For some of us, those who grew up with an affinity for Lego blocks and the like, our favorite part of gardening is landscaping, building garden beds and trellises. We almost grow our edible plants to decorate our creative flourishes in landscaping art.

What makes landscaping even more fun and creative is avoiding the big box stores, nurseries and landscaping products, learning to use what’s around to create unique gardens. Different forms of “waste” can be the most wonderful settings for growing food and flowers.

Not only is there no need to buy anything, but reusing it in a unique yard and garden often seems much more impressive and exciting. And, of course, enjoying the garbage means no more energy or resources being consumed to build your garden.

It’s a win-win-win! And there are so many repurposed resources available to us.

1. Bricks

Source: diy cp/Youtube

Old bricks are fantastic to use in gardens. They can be used to build raised beds (see keyhole gardens), create permanent walking paths, install stepping stones and create thermal mass heat sinks, perfect for keeping the surrounding soil warmer in the spring and in autumn. They can often be found for free or at very little cost.

2. Barrels

Used food grade barrels, both plastic and metal, are easy to find and have all sorts of uses. They are ideal for rainwater catchments so that we do not have to use municipal or well water for irrigation. They can be cut in half to make flower pots or (lengthwise) to make small vegetable gardens. They also make dandy compost bins.

3. Containers

With these barrels in mind, containers of any size or variety can be good for the garden. There is no need to buy plant pots or starter pots. They can be made from cans, bottles, take-out cups and any other container. By the way, many nurseries also give away old flowerpots.

4. Pallets

wooden pallets
Source: Rashid Akhmetzyanov/Shutterstock

Truth be told, the palettes are getting a bit harder to find, especially for free. But, they can still be found, and although less fashionable than a few years ago, pallets are brilliant for garden crafts. They can become fences, potting tables, vertical gardens, benches, raised beds, etc.

5. City dweller

Urbanite, which is crushed concrete for construction/demolition sites, can usually be obtained for free, and it can be used in the same way that bricks, gravel, and rocks can be used. It can be used as garden borders, garden paths, patios, fire pits and wildlife habitats.

6. Corrugated Metal

White corrugated metal
Source: Bhubeth Bhajanavorakul/Shutterstock

Old corrugated metal, aka roofing sheet, is an amazing repurposed resource for the creative gardener. It can be used to create cool fences, windbreaks and sun traps. Of course, it can again become a roof for small potting tables or seed starting areas. It can also be used to build raised beds, especially useful for those who can no longer bend very well.

7. Doors/Windows

Old doors and windows are commonplace at salvage yards and places like Habitat for Humanity. They can be put together to create cool greenhouses and used to make cold frames to extend growing seasons.

8. Cardboard

Cardboard is an amazing garden material, especially for those who are just starting to build their flower beds. It can be used as a weed barrier to cover grass areas and start no-till gardens. Shredded cardboard also works in compost as a carbon element to balance nitrogen-rich food scraps.

9. Diary

Source: ehowgarden/Youtube

Another common “trash” item that quickly finds its way into the garden is the old newspaper. A few layers of newspaper under a layer of mulch can act as a short-term weed blocker and attract earthworms. Newsprint can be shredded or composted as a carbon element. It can also be rolled into compostable pots to start seedlings.

10. Rocks

Gardeners and farmers often try to get rid of rocks, especially in places where tillage is a thing. It just means that other gardeners can make the most of them, probably – with a little effort to locate them – for free. Rocks, as shown with bricks and townspeople, are ideal for garden borders, walkways, stepping stones, fire pits, patios, etc.

They can also be stacked in strategic places to serve as wildlife habitats. Beneficial animals like frogs, toads, lizards and snakes like a good pile of stones.

In short, as we move more and more towards gardens rather than lawns, it’s important not to create new artificial demands on resources that are already available to us. We can reuse what we have to accomplish all sorts of things in the garden.

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Terri S. Tomasini