Garden Upcycling Ideas: Learn About Upcycling In The Garden

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Nationwide recycling programs have opened the eyes of most consumers. The sheer amount of junk we throw away annually is rapidly exceeding our storage capacity for said junk. Enter repurposing, upcycling and other useful practices. What is garden upcycling? The practice is similar to repurposing where unique and fanciful ideas are realized by using cast off items. This is an opportunity to think big and crazy while saving interesting artifacts and reducing our landfill loads.

What is Garden Upcycling?

Upcycled garden projects are all over sites like Etsy, Pinterest and others. Creative gardeners are eager to share their artistic approach to recycling in the garden. All it takes are a few interesting items and some crafting ingredients along with an interest in creating new forms of art work. We aren’t all artists, but with some guidance even the novice can fashion some fun and quirky statements for the landscape.

Take an old, broken child’s bike, for instance. What can you do with it other than throw it away? You can paint it bright colors, install a planter or basket at the handle bars and park it amongst a wildflower garden. You can make a garden bench out of an old dresser or a planter out of a rusty toolbox.

Such cast off items are now being viewed with new eyes. Instead of throwing items away, it is popular to consider them in a new light and add some paint, fabric, flowers, or any other items that peak your fancy. Many garden upcycling ideas start with items around the house and a need for something. All you need is a little imagination and a few additional decorating items and you are on your way.

Garden Upcycling Ideas

One of the biggest hits for garden upcycling has been the humble pallet. These wooden rafts are all over the place, discarded and unused. People have turned them into patios, planters, wall hangings, tables, benches, and many more items.

Other common garbage that has been repurposed creatively may be:

  • a toilet
  • an old fashioned milk pail
  • mason jars
  • mismatched dishes
  • utensils
  • tires
  • old nursery pots

Decorated flower pots, sun catchers, personalized garden art and sculpture, and even crop markers are just some of the upcycled garden projects utilizing these items. Think past your nose and make a set of wind chimes out of old spoons or paint old nursery pots, nestle them together and plant strawberries out of a personalized planter. The ideas are just endless for upcycling in the garden.

Upcycled Garden Containers

For a gardener, one of the first projects to come to mind are upcycled garden containers.

  • One of the cutest is made using an old bird cage with a spill of charming succulents in the bottom. In fact, succulents are ideal for interesting containers.
  • Paint old tires vivid hues, stack them and fill with dirt. This vertical planting area can be used for a cascade of flowers or veggies.
  • Use colanders to make hanging baskets or decorate an old dresser and plant in its drawers.
  • Whimsical items take on even more charm when plants are installed in them. Children’s rain boots, shells, old tins, teapots, glassware, and more provide interesting planting options.
  • Upside down wine bottles with their bottoms cut off and suspended with wire can grow viney plants or garden starts with an elegance seldom found in a finished bottle of Merlot.

Dig around your basement or garage or scour yard sales to find objects that appeal to you. Then get out the paint, super glue, twine, glue gun and any other decorating tools you need and go to town. Upcycling in the garden is a fun, family project that let’s everyone put a special touch on your outdoor spaces.

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Read more about Gardening Projects

40 Simple But Beautiful DIY Upcycled Garden Decorating Ideas

Upcycled Garden Decorating Ideas 22

40 Simple But Beautiful DIY Upcycled Garden Decorating Ideas

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Upcycled Chair Planters

Chair Planters are something I recently tried myself for the first time. Pretty easy as DIY projects go and very satisfying.

  • Photo: Upcycle My Stuff
  • Photo: Sustain My Craft Habit

  • Photo: Upcycle My Stuff

You can drop a pot in like Sustain My Craft Habit did with their Iron Chair Planter above. You can also create a base with outdoor fabric (like I did with the purple chair planter above) or you can place a low chair directly in the garden bed and build up the soil like I did with my white wicker chair.

Having some old bookshelves lying useless in your home? Then use your creativity and upcycle them to make some cool play kitchen for kids, will definitely boost the entertainments of your kids. Get inspired by the given sample that comes covered with a decorative curtain.

Use also the miniature round organizers or side tables to make beautiful craft station for the kids.

Here a distressed pink painted organizer has been used to organize the craft materials that kids will love to get crafty within their spare time.

What Is Upcycling?

upcycle verb

What is Upcycling?

Upcycling is a term coined by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.

Essentially upcycling is a form of recycling. Recycling, is a process by which waste materials are changed to create new products to prevent the waste of potentially useful materials. This process enables us to reduce our consumption of new materials and our need for conventional waste disposal, such as landfill and incineration.

When things are recycled they are either:

  • downcycled and the items produced from waste materials are of a lower value and quality than the original item or material. Examples of this include paper and plastic as when they are recycled they are turned into a lower grade paper or plastic.

  • upcycled and the items produced from waste materials are of a higher value and quality than the original item or material. Unlike recycled products, upcycled pieces retain and sometimes even enhance the look and feel of the original discarded materials. Examples of this include using skateboards to make chairs, a step ladder turned into shelving or using bike chains to make chandeliers.

We have sourced some videos that will tell you a bit more about upcycling, you’ll find these below. You can also view our pinterest boards to see lots of great examples.

There are a lot of benefits when you start thinking about upcycled DIY ideas from trash. For one, you can get rid of clutter around the house instead of holding on to that broken rocking chair with the distant hope of fixing it some day, you can turn it into a wall shelf right now.

Upcycling is also good for the environment. Instead of littering the ocean with your plastic bottles and soda can rings, you can incorporate them into craft projects that sit proudly on your mantle.

The very best thing about upcycling is the sense of accomplishment that you feel when you take a sad, broken object and transform it into something amazing. Your creativity will flourish with every stroke of your paintbrush, and you’ll start to see everything around you with an upcycling eye.

Are you ready to experiment with upcycling projects? Here are just a few upcycled DIY ideas from trash that might inspire you to a bigger and better home design. Some of these crafts are very basic, and others will take power tools and a bit of elbow grease to complete. All of them will look gorgeous when they’re finished. Have fun!

Is Upcycling the Right Hobby for You?

So the real question is, is upcycling right for you? And now that you know a little bit about what upcycling entails, you probably have a good idea of whether it’s a good hobby for you.

Is it a good hobby for everyone? Probably not. I think everyone should do it when they have items they’re throwing out. But turning it into a hobby that you spend most of your free time doing might be a little bit much.

Some people prefer other things. Like hiking, or reading, or exercising. And that’s okay, not everyone likes working with their hands.

But if you do, it might be a good hobby for you. If you like designing things, building things, solving puzzles, being creative and imaginative, or if you like doing things to help the environment–it might be a great hobby for you.

Watch the video: 10 creative UPCYCLED GARDEN IDEAS in my cottage garden. GARDEN INSPIRATION. Week 46

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