Your garden is a place to express your creativity and enjoy your outdoor space. It’s also your way of caring for the Earth—nourishing plants, restoring soil, and sustaining your own kitchen table.
How about adding even more of your unique style and giving the environment an extra helping hand by creating your garden landscape with upcycled materials?
What Is Upcycling?
Sure, garden and homegoods stores sell plenty of lovely outdoor decor that will give your garden or yard a special sparkle. But combining store-bought items with some upcycled, crafty projects to decorate your garden is the perfect way to meld functionality with creativity.
Upcycling means that you’re taking something old or discarded and giving it new life again. It is often considered the artist’s way of recycling! Think of it as reusing with flair.
But, of course, you can follow whatever rules and definitions you want when you’re finding upcycling projects for your garden! Let your creativity shine as you save previously used items from landfills and beautify your backyard oasis.
For some basic tips on designing an amazing garden space, check out our blog all about Edible Landscapes!
Let’s look at some materials to use for your upcycled garden projects.
Sturdy wooden pallets, the kind that packaged goods are shipped and delivered on, are a garden upcyclers dream item. They’re versatile and abundant.
You can find them for free at almost any lumber or feed store, usually tossed out back near the refuse containers. If you’re not seeing any at the stores (be sure to ask!), look at local neighborhood listings and “free” pages online and on social media.
Pallets can be made into compost pile corrals, chicken coops, fences, and even the structure for a hanging garden.
Pallets can have sharp edges, nails, and industrial staples in them, so be careful and remove those before you start working on upcycling a pallet.
Empty, clean metal cans (dog food, soup, cranberry sauce!) are adorable as planters.
Be sure to very thoroughly clean and dry cans so that absolutely no food is left inside! Remove labels by soaking cans in warm, soapy water—the labels should slide right off.
The fun thing about using metal cans in the garden is how light and portable they are. Try hanging a row along a fence or from a patio, arbor, or pergola. Poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Get fancy with paint and coverings!
Using old tires in your garden landscaping is such an amazing favor to planet earth—not just saving you a trip to a refuse facility, but saving a huge item from ending up in a landfill.
A really important note about using tires in your garden: be absolutely sure that the tire is incredibly clean before putting any soil or plants in there! You can imagine all the buildup from the road that sticks onto and into tires, and that stuff is a big no-no for soil and plant health. Ick! Only clean tires should be used in the garden or for any objects humans are going to touch, sit on, or swing from.
After cleaning, you may want to paint, finish, wrap, or decorate your tire planter to spiff it up and give it a more natural feel.
Reclaimed Wood & Furniture
Ready to get really crafty? All sorts of reclaimed wood pieces, furniture, and fixtures can be refreshed as useful, cute (maybe a little quirky) garden decor.
We love pursuing yard sales, second-hand furniture shops, and building reclamation centers to look for anything and everything that could be fun and functional in an outdoor space.
What kind of reclaimed items should you look for?
Even reclaimed wood from home builds or remodels can be used in your garden for walls, pathways, even making your own raised beds.
Before taking it home, check wood for sharp things (like nails and staples), mold or water damage, and cracks. Choose sturdy hardwood that hasn’t been painted—or, sand paint down before using for planting.
Once you let your imagination loose, it may feel like anything can become an upcycled decoration or planter for your garden. Silverware, mirrors, bottles, and even old bathtubs can make their way into a gorgeous, creative outdoor wonderland.
We can’t wait to see what you create. Share your upcycling ideas with us by tagging us on instagram at @true_organic_.
Join our community & receive tips on how to nourish your soil and planet and create a sustainable future!