Harmony in the Garden Blog

Repurposing trash into treasures for the garden

I love repurposed items in the garden.

Things that may be broken or have lost their usefulness are all too often headed to the dump, which is such a shame!

Sometimes, though, all that’s needed is a coat of paint, a little sprucing up, and a healthy dose of creativity to figure out how to use that item in a brand new way.

Not only are repurposed items being kept out of our landfill, but they can add such a welcome personal touch to your garden.

For example, this one-of-a-kind arbor at Cornerstone Gardens is nothing but a couple of garbage cans with willow cuttings that have been allowed to re-root.  Clever, huh?

Here are a few more of my favorites:GreenBar

My mother (who I officially dub the Queen of Repurposing) came up with this very clever way to use a beautiful, but broken, stone pot.

Despite being broken in half, she still found a way to incorporate it into a raised rock wall.

Taking advantage of the pot’s rounded shape, it snugly fits into the ‘corner’ of the wall, with the plant still in it!


Here’s another idea from my mother – unused fireplace tools as garden stakes!

A while ago, my parents replaced their wood-burning fireplace with a gas-burning one that’s more environmentally friendly.

What to do with the now outdated fireplace tools?

Garden stakes for her tall ornamental lilies!GreenBar

My friends, Rob and Michelle, made this rustic light fixture from extra cuttings of thick and bendable twigs.

Wrapped with twinkly holiday lights, it looks magical when hanging from their arbor.GreenBar

The next time a favorite mug cracks, instead of throwing it away consider using it as a container for succulents.

The lack of a drainage hole might pose a problem for other plants, but due to succulents low water requirements, they’ll survive just fine with the occasional drink.

Just make sure you don’t leave the mugs out in the rain, where they could fill up and drown the poor plants.GreenBar

This garden is one featured in my first book, Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces.

Emily Goodman, the creator of this very small San Francisco garden, made the most out of limited space by using the fence to support a garden.

Using a recycled five-gallon bucket, she made her version of those ‘upside-down tomato containers’ for sale in nurseries.

She then created two strawberry towers out of PVC pipes.

Further down the fence are two herb containers made from broken-down desk drawers that were bound for the landfill.  Even if they only last a few years, they sure are cute!


What to do with those bent or outdated mini-blinds  Instead of throwing them away, here’s a super easy way to re-purpose them as plant markers.

1) cut them to size making sure you round the corners (they can be sharp) and give them a point so they can easily stick into the ground

2) get a Sharpie pen and start labeling! (I recommend using Extreme Sharpie Pens that won’t fade when used outdoors.)

Voila! GreenBar

And last, but not least, my favorite repurposed item in my own garden.

A long time ago, I found this old, broken down chair sitting on the side of the curb, waiting for the trash collector.

The frame was so beautiful I just couldn’t let it be discarded, so I picked it up and held on to it for years.

Finally, one day, it hit on me – make a seat and plant it!
Here’s a video I made showing you how you can make your own planted chair.


What’s your favorite repurposed items?  I’d love to know!

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  • Hurrah for repurposing in the garden and everywhere!! Such clever ideas! I especially love the idea for using miniblinds as plant markers. I’ve been thinking that they would also make a good bird ‘window deflector’ that could be attached to a piece of wood or old PVC pipe and hung up under eaves when young birds are starting to fly and learning where windows are. They could be creatively painted (might be a great project for kids) and then strung on string for a really fun look! Keep the creative juices flowing!?

    • Hi Ronnie – you’re so right about those miniblinds making a great kid’s project/window deflector! Great idea!!

    • Wow – those are beautiful! I once saw another beautiful garden who used wine bottles in small groupings like that, lining a steep pathway down a hill. I really like how yours are grouped according to color, too. Thanks so much for sharing your pics! 🙂

      • Yes, I got the idea from somewhere online. Glad you liked it. It’s been fun sharing some ideas.

  • Rebecca, great job on the “how to plant a Repurposed Chair” project and also including the watering aspect…which people can forget. You looked very professional and beautiful too!
    Thanks so much for sharing. Take care my friend. Sabrina

    • Thank you so much, Sabrina. You’re so right about the watering! Watering is so important (especially for us without additional summer rain) and who wants to hand water anything -no one! Glad you liked the video! 🙂

  • Thanks for the chair video! My neighbor gave me his metal hanging planters – lots of them. I planted up a few and then started making hanging “balls” from them. I wired two together with rim meeting rim after taking off one of the hanging chain sets, leaving one set of 3 to use for hanging the ball shaped baskets from the trees. Birds like to use them as a resting perch while waiting for a turn in the bird bath.

    • Wow – I would LOVE to see what you did with those planters, Barbara, they sound fantastic!

        • Thank you so much for posting the pic, Barbara – I LOVE IT! How nice to receive so many hanging baskets from your neighbor. What a lovely gift!

          • Well, he was clearing out his shed, so I’m not really sure who was gifting whom. After he cleared out his brother’s house I took lots and lots of wine bottles. I finally figured out, after seeing something somewhere, that I could stack them between two posts of an arbor to make a short wall off them. One day when weeding I looked up and was rewarded with the sun shining through them. The arbor posts are placed so that it’s a normal view and I was grateful to see it. I’ll stop now.

          • Barbara – I’m sensing another insta pic is in order! I’d love to see your wine bottle wall, too – it sounds like your garden is brimming with personality. My favorite kind of garden! 🙂

  • Elaine – I love old tin buckets too, but must say I don’t have any old bathtubs around. I wish I had the room, though….

  • Thank you Tatyana – I’ll pass this along to my mother. You left a comment last year that my mother read and she thought you were so sweet. She’ll like this one just as much! 😉

  • Susy – believe me, my neighbor’s trash usually consists of hefty bags full of garbage but every once in awhile……bonanza! Thanks for stopping by!


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