Wednesday, 9 May 2007


A garden that is green doesn’t have to be limited by the colour of the lawn. All gardens can benefit in their design by introducing a Green policy, meaning using old discarded products, for example if you buy a product that comes in a plastic container such as milk, the empty bottle can be used as a mini propagator or pushed into the ground near a plant with the base removed (this can be used as a saucer or seed tray) and when filled with water will soak to the roots where it’s needed. A friend of mine who has an allotment refuses to throw anything away, his borders are edged with old long-playing records, and the raised beds are made from old wardrobes and drawers. Any paper or cardboard is put down as mulch or added to grass clippings to make very good compost when rotted down. His shed is constructed out of old window frames and the peas and beans are growing up happily around old scaffolding poles. The allotment has a few old comfy armchairs scattered around for when you need to take a rest, these too after a year or two will rot down nicely and be added to the soil.

Here are a few more examples of reusing things in the garden:

Use polystyrene beads from packaging to mix with your compost when filling containers, they create pore spaces for water and allows air to flow, it will make the containers lighter too.
Make an interesting addition to paths walls and borders by incorporating bottles. Push the bottles into the ground or wall until only the base is showing, use different colours for a pleasing effect. There is crushed glass on the market at the moment, these look like shiny pebbles and are effective in pots as well as the garden.

Combine broken concrete, old bricks, wood and natural stone to form walls with texture and form in the garden.

Old railings can be turned into fences or trellises

If you have old paint in the shed this can be used to paint the railings or any old furniture that raised beds are made from.( I can’t think of anything else to do with old paint that would be safe)
Don’t discard your old bathroom, plant up the old toilet with petunias or turn the sink into a birdbath. The bath could make an interesting water feature; it would make an ideal home for a water Lily.

Recycled garden products
Most products bought in shops come with some form of plastic packaging, which is mostly unnecessary and after the product has been removed is usually useless. To save this waste going to landfills, companies such as BPF in Downpatrick Co. Down (tel, 00442844831831) are doing their bit to recycle old plastic products. This still takes energy to do, but they are trying to remould the plastic into pellets at low temperatures to make sure there are no poisonous fumes released into the atmosphere, as happens with most things that are burned. These pellets are moulded into heavy-duty garden products such as fence posts, fences, decking boards, pergolas and trellis. Street signs, litterbins and bollards for council use are also made. The company claim the product out performs hardwood, cast iron and concrete. BPF can only use the waste from one supermarket chain to be at full working capacity, which gives us some idea of the amount of waste that isn’t being used for recycling, including lumps of concrete!

If you have any ideas for reusing old rubbish or have a garden feature made from reused materials please let me know.


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