19 Creative Garden Recycling Ideas to Turn Your Garden From Waste To Wow
If you’ve been digging into low waste living, you no doubt understand the importance of reusing what you already have and properly disposing of unwanted items.
This summer, grow your recycling skills further by putting them to use in your very own backyard.
We beg your garden?!
Turns out, you can grow something new using something old.
Garden recycling ideas are an ex-seed-ingly wonderful way to repurpose materials that might otherwise go to waste, while also improving the health and beauty of your garden.
There are lots of creative recycling ideas for the garden you can implement easily and inexpensively, from using old containers to repurpose them as planters, to transforming waste materials into compost.
So whether you’re seasoned in sustainable gardening or just getting started, read on for some inspiring and unique upcycled garden ideas to make the most of your outdoor space while also doing your part for the planet.
When it comes to recycling in the garden, ideas are practically endless—which means it’s thyme to get creative.
The Full List Of Recycling Ideas For The Garden
- Embrace the garden recycling mindset
- Old boot planters
- Upcycled kitchenware planters
- Greenhouses built from old window frames and panes
- Garden tire recycling ideas
- Old jeans as planters
- Garden upcycle ideas for old bricks
- Recycled glass bottle garden ideas
- Upcycled bird feeders
- Recycled licence plate planters
- Laundry basket planters
- Old Ladder as a Pergola or Trellis
- Tire rim hose winder
- Bicycle spoke lattice
- Wooden pallet garden recycling ideas
- Repurposed seedling containers
- Upcycled garden furniture features
- Gutter garden
- Plant support and protection upcycling ideas
1. Embrace the Garden Recycling Mindset
Before we get to some specific creative recycling garden ideas, let’s plant the sustainability seed with something more akin to encouraging a mindset rather than a specific idea.
In other words, lettuce start thinking in a circular gardening mindset.
Once you’ve switched your mind to the principles of eliminating waste and pollution and conserving resources, you’ll be surprised how easy the DIY upcycled garden ideas with flow (er, grow).
The idea is to shift from a throw-away to a circular mindset to a zero waste one, because it will help extend the life cycle of goods and resources so that nothing goes to waste.
So many things we buy nowadays are made using plastic—which is terrible if you decide to keep throwing plastic away, but its durable nature means you can at least use it over and over again through numerous upcycling ideas.
Plastic water bottles and egg cartons make excellent seed trays and toppers.
When they need to be moved to something bigger before going into the ground, you can reuse pots from previously purchased greenhouse starts. Just give them a good clean and reuse them time and time again.
Let’s not forget some good ol’ composting magic, which is Nature’s ultimate recycling opportunity, turning organic waste like food scraps and paper towels into nutrient rich garden gold.
At the end of the season, when you’re enjoying your bounty, remember that it was all made possible through recycled vegetable garden soil.
Just make sure you know what is compostable and what not to compost to optimize nature’s garden recycling process.
2. Old Boot Planters
Let’s start our recycling garden ideas with something almost everyone probably has hanging around: old shoes.
Hiking boots or rain boot planter ideas provide a cute solution to a kind of waste we all create every few years.
The best thing about this recycling craft idea for the garden is that it’s pretty straightforward and doesn’t really require much of a tutorial. Just fill your old boots or shoes with soil, water in, and plant.
3. Upcycled Kitchenware Planters
Rather than putting your coffee tins and metal food cans out with the recycling, give them a new lease of life in your garden.
All you need to do is wash them out and make a few small drain holes in the bottom. Some gravel in the bottom of the tin provides extra drainage.
Your tins are then ready for planting up bedding plants, potted plants, or herbs to create a tasty garden display.
Food tins aren’t the only recycling ideas for the garden that can start in the kitchen. You can also turn old tupperware and pots (say, if you just upgraded to some non-toxic cookware) into little recycled gardens.
Because these are small and contained, they’re the perfect apartment garden recycling idea.
4. Greenhouse Built From Old Window Frames and Panes
If you’ve just finished a renovation project, it’s possible to make a greenhouse from your old window frames and panes.
A new greenhouse can be quite an investment, but there is the option of adding one to your garden space without spending too much money.
If you don’t have the need (or space) for an entire greenhouse, still hang onto those window panes. Lay them across your garden beds in the spring several weeks before planting to allow the sun to cook away any preliminarily weeds.
After all, the best recycling ideas for your garden are those that make for just a little less work later on.
5. Garden Tire Recycling Ideas
Before you drive your old spare tires to the nearest recycling center or pay for the auto shop to dispose of them for you, save money and the rubber by giving them a new life in your garden.
There are so many different garden tire recycling ideas, including no shortage of configurations of recycled plant pots. Stack them and turn them into sturdy containers for larger planters, or flip them upright and plant smaller flowers.
You can either paint them bright colors or stick with the all-natural black color, depending on what look you’re going for.
If you’re upcycling a particularly sturdy brand of tire that’s still in good structural shape, pair it with some recycled rope, and you’ve got a tire swing for your kids.
6. Old Jeans As Planters
Of all upcycled garden planter ideas, this might be the most unusual—which is exactly why we love it.
If you can’t think of what to do with your old jeans, turn them into quirky and amusing eco-friendly planters.
There are plenty of tutorials online and don’t feel you need to restrict yourself to one planter. Ask around because the more the merrier and the bigger the variety of colors the better.
All you have to do is fill the top part of your jeans with potting soil and plants. The bottom part can be filled with something like straw, which is natural and inexpensive.
7. Garden Upcycle Ideas For Old Bricks
Looking for recycling garden ideas for that pile of bricks leftover from your recent driveway remodel?
Put them to good use by making a path to create a clear walkway across or around your garden. Create a bespoke design by laying them sideways and longways in a bed of colorful gravel.
Alternatively, use them as stepping stones, edging, and erosion blocks in your eco-friendly landscaping, or create a backyard fire pit from them.
8. Recycled Glass Bottle Garden Ideas
Start collecting empty wine bottles or other glass bottles and use them to create recycled edging for your flower beds.
It will look great and be very functional for edging or dividing a flower bed. The more varied the colors of the bottles, the better they’ll look.
If you have a glass cutter and are handy with more in-depth DIY projects, you can also cut them in half in various ways to create all kinds of small planters.
9. Upcycled Bird Feeders
Have a favorite old tea cup or coffee cup and saucer you can’t bear to part with for sentimental reasons?
If it’s chipped, cracked, or broken, and no longer a watertight vessel, get out the hot gun and glue it back together. As long as it’s not in a thousand pieces, you’ll be able to create a new bird feeder with a minimal amount of effort.
You’ll also need a saucer, a metal spoon, a hot glue gun, string or twine, and a bent spoon to create this final recycled garden art idea.
If you don’t have a suitable tea cup but still want to benefit the local bird life, you can turn something as simple as a disposable plastic water bottle into a fine feeder for the feathered friends that frequent your backyard homestead.
10. Recycled License Plate Planters
If you’ve moved states or retired an old vehicle recently, it’s likely you have some old license plates lying around.
You may have been using them as sustainable home decor, but why not clear some clutter and relocate them to the garden instead?
This upcycled garden planter idea is so effective you could find yourself trawling the junkyards for other people’s castaways. The older the license plate the better because they tend to be stamped or embossed, rather than printed, meaning they’ll stand up to the elements better.
One license plate is all that’s required to make one planter. Simply crimp the license plate using a large vice grip or roll the plate around a large Mason jar.
For a larger planter, drill holes in the plate’s edges and fasten several together using nuts and bolts for a colorful collage.
License plates can also be repurposed into birdhouses.
11. Laundry Basket Planters
Once you’ve switched to a sustainable laundry basket, what should you do with the old one?
Take a page from our upcycling garden ideas playbook and use it to grow some goodies, of course.
Take some old newspaper or cardboard and line that laundry hamper you’ve had sitting in the corner of the garage gathering dust for several years. As long as it’s got holes on all the sides, you can turn it into a towering strawberry planter or hanging basket.
Once you’ve lined it, fill it with well-drained garden soil, right the way to the top. Then, using a kitchen or utility knife, slice cross-shaped tabs into the paper liner. Using your hands, push the strawberry plants into the dirt.
When it comes to harvesting your strawberry tower, you’ll have more than enough delicious homegrown strawberries to serve with waffles, pancakes, or some other tasty dessert.
12. Old Ladder as a Pergola or Trellis
Shade is important in a garden but incorporating it into your outdoor space doesn’t mean you have to rush out and buy something new.
A vintage ladder will provide excellent support for climbing or trailing plants.
If you plan on using the ladder as an overhanging pergola, you may need more than one, or some other scrap lumber to serve as the side support.
13. Tire Rim Hose Winder
Got a rusty old tire rim hiding in the undergrowth of your garden or lurking at the back of your garage?
It will make a useful storage unit for your garden hose.
Brighten it up with a lick of paint before using the already existing holes to bolt it to a sturdy stand or the wall. A garden hose will wrap beautifully around it, and the hole in the middle is the perfect spot for the sprinkler head.
For the more advanced crafters, it’s possible to turn the wheel into a movable hose reel, but you’ll need some welding experience to add a handle and wheels.
14. Bicycle Spoke Lattice
If you’ve got the time and want to create some statement-making recycled DIY garden designs, this might be the garden recycling project for you.
You’ll have to gather the bicycle tire rims first, but once you’ve got a good selection, of various styles and sizes, fasten them together to create a circular lattice-like wall.
Get it to stand on its own or use it against posts or a wall.
If you only have one old bike, place it strategically in your garden with some panniers and a front basket ready to accommodate all your favorite trailing flowers.
15. Wooden Pallet Garden Recycling Ideas
Nothing represents junk upcycled garden ideas better than wooden pallets, which can be used for a wide variety of garden projects.
Businesses often have to pay to get these taken away, so they’ll likely be more than happy if you offer to take some off their hands. Hardware and other industrial stores are a good place to start.
You’ll be saving them money and gathering the upcycled materials you need for one of the following pallet recycling ideas in the garden:
- Vertical herb garden
- Raised garden bed
- Outdoor compost bin
- Potting bench
- Porch swing
- Patio furniture
- Upcycled potting bench
All you need for most of these DIY upcycling projects will be some basic tools such as a drill and screws.
16. Repurposed Seedling Containers
If you want to start ecological gardening, start with your seeds and seedlings.
Every spring, local garden centers and stores fill their shelves with all manner of plastic containers to appeal to the gardener. However, buying them is such a waste considering there are so many things you can use from your own home.
Rather than buying something new, reuse the old and try one of the following recycled seedling containers:
- Eggs and egg cartons: You can plant your seeds and seedlings into empty eggshells or cardboard cartons. If the egg cartons are cardboard rather than plastic, you can plant them directly in the garden when your seedlings are grown and avoid disturbing those fledgling root systems.
- Paper cups: You’ll need to poke a small hole in the bottom for drainage. If you haven’t got any of your own, maybe a local coffee shop will have some they want to get rid of.
- Toilet paper rolls: Even if you’re buying zero waste toilet paper, there’s going to be a cardboard tube you’ll need to dispose of. The same goes for your recycled paper towel tubes. Cut and fold one end to form the bottom of your seedling containers. The cardboard roll should be biodegradable, so you can pop the whole thing in the ground and not disturb the tender seedlings.
- Plastic cupcake or cookie containers: These clam-shell containers are the perfect shape for starting seeds, and they come with a handy lid to help create the humid environment seeds often need to get started.
If you’re looking for plastic bottle recycling garden ideas, you can cut them in half and use each half as mini greenhouse toppers to pair with these recycled seed tray bases.
Don’t forget the garden markers so you know which sprouts are which, Old popsicle sticks or just sticks from your yard with some of the bark whittled away work perfectly.
17. Upcycled Garden Furniture Features
When you’ve replaced your tired old furniture with some new sustainable furniture, use these upcycled garden furniture ideas to ensure the old goods don’t go to waste.
Is there an old dresser tucked away in your garage?
Perhaps a neighbor or family member is having a clearout and has one they don’t need anymore. Rather than leaving it feeling unloved and unwanted, give it a new lease of life and turn it into something special.
Salvage your old dressers and desks to help create a charming and unique garden space. Admittedly, furniture is going to experience some wear and tear from the elements, but you can lessen water and UV damage with a quick coat of polyurethane. The drawers alone make perfect plant boxes for smaller backyard gardens.
For planting preparation, a desk or vanity unit makes for a useful upcycled potting bench. Fill the drawers with your pots, and garden tools, and bags of soil can take the place of a chair.
If you’ve got the space, a queen-sized bed is a fantastic idea. You can set the metal or wooden legs in a terra cotta pot from which potted plants can grow. Cover the bed itself in clusters of foliage and flowers. Take the idea even further with additions such as a lantern light and bedside table.
This garden upcycle idea isn’t limited to furniture, either. You can also use other home features and appliances, like old sinks or bathtubs from your recent zero waste bathroom remodel.
Plant some native plants and let these larger planters run wild to add some nature prevails vibes to your outdoor sanctuary.
18. Gutter Garden
A gutter garden is a way of making good use of the vertical space in your garden and is ideal for concealing an unattractive area of siding or fence. In addition, your broken or old gutters are being repurposed rather than ending up in the landfill.
Drill a few drainage holes into the bottom, then you’re ready to attach the old gutters to a space of your choosing. Stack them parallel like a bookshelf or stagger them to make your vertical garden display more interesting.
A gutter garden is great for growing herbs, microgreens, or strawberries.
19. Plant Support & Protection Upcycling Ideas
Many plants grow so tall that they require additional support to help them climb, including cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, and vining flowers (like jasmine and clematis).
You can support your plants with a range of recycled materials, such as:
- Handles from old shovels or rakes, old PVC piping, or old metal fence posts or railings
- Create a cage or climbing medium out of any metal wire, including rabbit or chicken wire
- Use scrap wood or an old wood pallet as a trellis for climbing plants such as clematis
- Several lengths of rope in a weaved pattern create an attractive trellis
- Old door frames will make a great arbor
Plants also need protection from various threats such as birds, insects, wind, and the cold. There are many ways you can use recycled materials to protect your tender plants, including:
- Hang shiny objects such as CDs, pie tins, bicycle reflectors from string to provide light and movement to scare birds away
- Plastic bottle cloches protect plants from pests, wind, and the cold
- Prevent an invasion of cutworms using plant collars made of cardboard
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Final Thoughts On Unique Upcycled Garden Ideas
Hopefully, this list planted a seed you can grow into your next repurposed garden project.
When it comes to garden ideas and self-sufficient homesteading, recycling means minimal expense and the feel-good factor of doing your bit for the future of the planet too.
Celery-brate this non-exhaustive list of garden decor upcycled garden ideas by sharing it with your green-thumbed friends and family.