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What to do with the now outdated fireplace tools?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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