Recycling and reusing

When you're up to your elbows in soil, have dirt under your nails, and are surrounded by blooming plants and greenery, you can't help but feel connected with nature. Gardening is a great hobby for nature-lovers and those looking to relax and spend more time outdoors. You can cut down on your waste and eco-footprint in the garden by trying to reduce and recycle whenever possible. Upcycling is a way to get creative in the garden and challenge yourself to think outside of the box.

Take Care of What You Own

You can reduce waste in the garden by buying high-quality tools, planters, and other gardening supplies and taking good care of them so you can keep them for a long time. If you have extras or want to replace a tool, you can donate the old one as long as it's in working condition to a thrift store like Habitat for Humanity ReStore. 

TIP: Plastic planters are not recyclable by your standard curbside pickup. But, you can recycle them at Lowes in the garden center. It's part of their garden pot recycling program. Lowes collects and sorts discarded pots and reuses them whenever possible. 

What is Upcycling? 

Upcycling is creatively reusing an item and giving it a new purpose. Instead of throwing something away and having it become waste, you can give it new life instead. It's an artistic twist on reusing. Upcycling is an awesome eco-friendly practice that's become very popular in gardening. 

Easy Upcycled Planters or Bird Feeders

Will it hold soil? If so, you can turn it into a DIY planter or birdfeeder with a little creativity. Planters and bird feeders can be made out of nearly anything. The more outlandish, the better! 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Colander - Easy DIY hanging basket
  • Washing tub
  • Basins
  • Birdcage
  • Wheel barrel
  • Tea tin
  • Tire
  • Teapots and teacups
  • Paint or Coffee Cans - You can paint the outside for an added artistic flair.
  • Plastic bottles
  • Boots
  • Toy trucks
  • Plastic buckets - Cut a hole in the bottom and turn upside down for an easy DIY hanging planter. 
  • Upside down lightbulb - Fill with water or soil and hang on the wall or from a string.
  • Broken pot — DIY Fairy Garden 

TIP: You can give these planters an upgrade with a Gardenique Decor planter fountain like the Mirasol or Daisy. In just a few minutes, you can transform your planter into a beautiful water feature. 

Reuse Items Around the House

Feather Pillows  On a dry day, open up the pillows and place piles of feathers outdoors. The local birds and other wildlife will enjoy using the feathers to build their nests. 

Clothes  If you have extra clothes that you do not want, you can turn them into a DIY scarecrow!

Paper Cups  Paper takeaway coffee cups make easy biodegradable pots for young seedlings.

Toilet Paper and Paper Towel Rolls  You can fold the bottom of the roll and use them to start your seeds and protect seedlings. 

Egg Cartons  Keep your egg cartons and reuse them to start your seeds. Separate the lid from the egg holder. Poke small holes into each egg holder, add soil, and place a seed. If you're starting your seeds indoors, you can set the lid under the carton to collect the water. 

Plastic Milk Jugs  You can turn plastic milk jugs into DIY watering cans or hand shovels. If you cut the bottom off of a milk jug, it's great for protecting delicate plants from the frost in the winter. 

Plastic Bottles  Turn plastic bottles into self-watering pots for seedlings. Peel the label and cut the water bottle in half. The top part that you would drink out is your planting area. Cut an "X" into the lid. Turn the top upside down and place it into the bottom of the bottle. The neck and lid should be at least an inch from the bottom. Fill the planting area with soil and a few seeds and fill the bottom portion with water. 

Cereal Boxes  Tear and shred cereal boxes and add them to your mulch to help reduce weeds.

Glass Bottles  You can use glass bottles for upcycled edging in your garden. Lay the bottles on their side or turn upside down and press into the soil, so just the bottoms show.

Spoons  You can use old spoons and turn them into plant holders. Drill the curved part of the spoon into the wall and bend the holder into a hanger. You can then hang reused mason jars from it. 

Easy Compost  Rose bushes love potassium. Bury banana peels in the soil of your rose bushes. Eggshells are high in calcium and help to make the soil more alkaline, which is beneficial for plants like brussel sprouts, melons, peppers, lavender, mums, yarrow, and lilac bushes. Used tea or coffee grinds make the soil more acidic, perfect for blueberries, cucumbers, beans, onions, azaleas, daffodils, and hydrangeas. 


There are many ways to get crafty in the garden and reduce your waste. Recycling and reusing are two essential practices for a more eco-friendly garden. Upcycling is a fun and creative way to cut down on your waste and find opportunities to repurpose everyday items you were going to throw out. When you need to get rid of something, it's important to take the time to see if it can be recycled or donated before throwing it into the trash. Gardening is a relaxing hobby that helps you connect and appreciate nature. 


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