Making your garden into a beautiful haven is a year-round job! Even in winter, keen gardeners are on the look out for things to brighten and improve the landscape. Many people love adding garden ornaments and sculptures to their outdoor space and this can prove expensive! This is why there has in recent years been an explosion in the practice of recycling items for the garden! Using items from your home as garden ornaments when they’ve worn out is a great way of saving things from going to landfill, flexing your artistic and imaginative muscles and creating a beautiful environment to boot!
There are many practical and lovely ways to re-use household items in your garden…planters, water features and stepping stones can all be made from things which would otherwise be thrown away. Sculptures are also surprisingly easy to make and it’s something everyone can get involved in…there’s no age limit which is a fabulous thing given that getting creative together is a brilliant way to spend time with friends or family. Some ideas for projects include the following:
Broken pottery mosaics
We all know the feeling of breaking a favourite plate…it’s aggravating and often sad to throw away a much loved piece of china. But there’s no need to wave goodbye to that pattern that you’ve loved for so long; creating a mosaic tile is so simple and all you need is some broken pottery, some plaster of Paris and a few things which most people have lying around the house. Remember to wear eye protection during this project as flying china can be lethal!
- Place china pieces in a thick plastic bag if the pieces are large and hit gently with a hammer to create smaller bits.
- Take an old tray or a large cookie cutter for your mould…heart shapes look great!
- Play with the broken china within your mould until you achieve a pattern which you like.
- Remove china and mix plaster of Paris according to packet instructions.
- Place mould on a thick sheet of card or some scrap timber and fill with plaster.
- Begin laying broken china on top of plaster gently push it in so that it’s almost flush with the surface but not quite… this will allow for it to “sink” slightly as it dries.
- Leave to set.
Once the piece is set (overnight is best) you can remove it by gently pushing on the back of the piece. Add a hook with some superglue and then varnish to protect it from the elements. This makes a lovely piece of art to hang on shed doors or even from a tree. For use as stepping stones, substitute plaster for cement and make moulds from timber.
Most plants have one thing in common… they’ll grow in just about anything as long as it has some growing media in it! The only thing you need to be careful of is drainage. If your item doesn’t already have some holes at the bottom then you will need to add some. If this is impossible, simply add a layer of gravel or small pebbles before you fill it with earth. Some ideas for unusual planters follow:
- Old wellington boots: These look great when placed side by side with a nice display of something that trails inside them. Lobelia is good and it’s very easy to care for. Otherwise try pansies, winter or summer they will provide a fun display.
- Kettles and saucepans: Older kettles and saucepans look good with flowers or just greenery in them, try adding ivy to an old enamel kettle for a pretty and quirky look.
- Tin cans: ordinary tin cans such as those which beans, peas and other vegetables come in are perfect for a display with impact. Save up around twenty of them, remove the labels and punch some holes in the bottom. You can paint them or leave them in their natural state. These look great when nailed to a bare fence in a group with plenty of colourful flowers planted up inside them. As they age, they grow rusty which looks very attractive.
- Old “bags for life” make fabulous grow-bags for vegetables. You can grow tomatoes, potatoes, salads and herbs in bags like this and they’re excellent for smaller gardens or even for balconies
Garden art and decoration
Blank walls or barren spots in your garden can be made beautiful with some home grown art! You don’t need to be an artistic type to successfully create really lovely focal points for your garden and you won’t even need to buy materials if you are savvy about what you use! Another bonus is that the children will love doing this sort of thing so get them to help.
- Tin can man: A fun tin can man or woman can be built from a collection of ordinary tin cans. Join them up with string by punching a hole in the base of each. Choose a larger can for a head and paint in bright colours!
- Wind chimes: Old cutlery and small kitchen utensils can be suspended from a wire circle or even a colander to create a fun wind chime. Add beads to give the piece some extra sparkle!
- Plastic bag bunting: Plastic bags come in all kinds of colours and designs and a great way of making decorations for a special occasion is to cut bags into strips the length of an average bag and about three inches wide, then tie them to a long length of string making sure they’re all close together and that you alternate colours. You can also create a fun “wind sock” with this method by using an old embroidery hoop as a base for the “sock” or wire. Tie the strips around the circle and then suspend from a tree for a pretty decoration.
When it comes to decorating your garden with recycled items, the trick is to try to envision items as something beyond their intended use. What does that old pile of pain tins remind you of? A totem pole? Well then get creative and turn them into something amazing! Be confident in your plans and don’t worry if things go wrong…experimenting is part of the fun!