Don’t have the time or money to buy a new pot or build a garden bed? It’s much easier than you may think to find the perfect container without costing an arm and a leg! If you’re not in the habit of finding ‘new ways with old things,’ read on to find out why you should consider reusing what you’ve already got …
1. Save money/make money. Turning ‘trash into treasure’ is one sure way to be thrifty in the garden. If you don’t have to buy a container, you can keep your money in your wallet for plants or other garden supplies you really need to buy. Being creative with your hands and making attractive, affordable planters, potting benches and unique pots for other gardeners may also be a niche market to make money or raise funds for a worthy project.
2. Reduce landfill and ease your conscience. In our ‘throw away’ society, many people never stop to think about giving new life to an object that appears to be ready for the rubbish tip. Stop! Think about the shape of the container and ask yourself ‘Can I add drainage holes?’ or ‘Can I use this as a cache pot?’ Large items in particular like BBQ trolleys, chairs and furniture take up a huge amount of space in landfill but can easily be turned into useful planters or potting benches.
3. Add loads of character to your garden. Many people spend a lot of money to buy unique, one-off pieces at expensive garden centres and nurseries to decorate and add character to their garden. Frugal gardeners however, know you can achieve the same effect with a little creative thinking and often a splash of paint, polish or artistic flair!
4. Create a unique design theme. Think about what YOU love – and turn this into your personalised garden theme. Do you have a favourite colour? Like rustic farm or garden tools? Garden art? A particular plant species? Do you have an old collection of unused items that could be turned into planters?
Once you decide what is missing in your garden, you can add a little creativity by incorporating your hobby, art, collection, favourite colour or plants into your garden space. Just start sorting out or collecting old items, going through your garage or attic, and saving objects you would have otherwise thrown away.
5. Make great use of vertical space. If you’re cramped for space, growing ‘up’ with some clever repurposed space-savers is an ideal way to get more plants in your garden. For example, an old piece of lattice, a gate or shelf can be repurposed into useful wall or bracket-mounted hanging space for plants.
6. Find an outlet for creativity. Some people find repurposing containers totally addictive! Making old things new or painting a mis-matched collection of items in the same colour can make you look like a pro garden designer with very little effort. It’s also a great way to make home-made gifts.
7. Teach children not to waste valuable resources. Kids thrive when given some creative space. Give them the opportunity to make their own garden with the simplest of containers like old tin cans, shoes and toys. They’ll take to it like a duck to water. When they grow out of those gumboots or break a toy, give them the chance to re-purpose it into a new garden!
Make it their own exciting little project to work on. With a little paint, patience and imagination, children can invent their own ingenious ways to save resources and grow their own garden.
8. Inspire others to do the same. Not everyone can picture what they can do with what they’ve got – so help them out! Invite friends, family and neighbours over to share your creative ideas and inspire them to get started on their own repurposed garden project. Find a friend – be inventive, share resources and go shopping at garage sales and op shops together. Many retired people have spare time and would love to share their skills and have a bit of company while making planters with others. Start a ‘Repurposed Garden Group’! Funky planters can be great fund-raisers too so think about opportunities to make something unique and raise money for your local school, community organisation or project.
9. Create a design feature. Many gardens, especially micro gardens fail to make the most of the space they have. They are often missing a special feature to draw the eye, become a focal point for the garden or even when looking from inside out. Put your artistic hat on, stand back from different angles and try to imagine what the space needs. Holding your hands out in front of you to make the shape of a miniature square ‘frame’ like a camera often helps! What can you see inside the ‘frame?’ Maybe a tall container is needed where everything else is low-growing. Perhaps a vertical ladderwith plants on the rungs would draw the attention to a feature wall or an unusual container in the centre of the garden may become a conversation point.
10. Support a local charity or cause. Many unique containers and little hidden gems can be discovered at places like op shops, charity organisations, garage sales and school fetes. These are spots you can often find a treasure trove of bargains and feel good about spending a few dollars with a charity or cause that really needs it. Think ‘win-win!’
Have these ideas inspired you to start a repurposed planter project? If so, please leave a comment, share your ideas and photos to show others what you’ve done. We can all learn from each other. Check out other container ideas here and pick up some tips for growing container gardens.
I’ll be posting more photos of how others are using repurposed planters in their gardens soon, so if you don’t want to miss these, subscribe to my newsletter (and grab your free eBook) or click on the RSS feed below or to the right.
Copyright The Micro Gardener 2011 – http://www.themicrogardener.com