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Green and gorgeous: upcycling ideas for your garden

Do your bit for the environment and create a beautiful, upcycled outdoor space – all without spending a fortune.


By Cleanipedia Team

candles in outdoor glass jars

There are many ways garden upcycling can spruce up your outdoor living area. It’s easy to go green by reusing and recycling furniture, trinkets and apparent junk – not to mention saving you money. Try some of these upcycling ideas in your own garden.

Add mood with decor and lighting

A simple way to add atmosphere to a garden or patio at night is to hang tea lights in jam jars from trees or a fence. If you have a floor lamp that is up for retirement put it to work outside – remove all the old wiring and replace the bulb with a solar one (these charge using sunlight). Voila, you have yourself a stylish garden lamp.

Old mirrors add a striking dimension to a garden, and if you like the sound of wind chimes rocking gently in a breeze, then put one together with old keys or cutlery hung from a colander. Have a leaky hose? Don’t throw it away as it can be cut into lengths, glued together and repurposed as an outdoor mat.

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Make your own planters

  • Recycle an old container or jam jar:
  1. Cut or drill (taking care, especially if your container is glass not to cause it to shatter or hurt you in the process) holes into the side of your container. 
  2. Thread string or ribbon through the holes creating the hanging part. 
  3. Using papier mache, stickers or paint decorate your new planter however you like!
  • Turn an old dish or terracotta pot into a hanging planter:
  1. Create pleats with knots and different angles using the twine.
  2. Wrap around your dish or terracotta pot.
  3. Ensure that the pieces of twine are secure around the edges and well balance to prevent soil or plants falling out.
  4. More often than not with these they will not need decorating as they look lovely as they are!
  • Create a homemade tiered hanging planter:
  1. You can use as many different tiers for this one as you like.
  2. Allowing for space to plant your chosen flowers, use the twine or string to attach the wire planters together in tiers.
  3. Why not paint each wire planter a different colour or add embellishments such as pearls and beads to spice it up?

Make a compost bin

A composter is a must for any gardener. You don’t need anything fancy – rubbish bins and large plastic containers work well. Holes need to be drilled in the bottom and they have to be lined with paper and soil before they start accepting food leftovers. A relatively simple one can be knocked together using wooden pallets, or find some old milk crates and glue three on top of each other (you will also need to make a wooden lid for it). Discover how to make nutrient-rich humus soil in your composter here.

Create furniture for the garden

Recycled furniture can create a thrilling impact in the garden. A chest of drawers can be re-worked as a decorative piece for a patio. Pull the drawers partly out, fill with soil and plant flowers. You can also screw hooks into the side to hang garden tools or barbecue utensils.

Have an old tree stump that’s been sitting there for years? That’s a garden stool. Dig it up, give it a good sanding and fix a cushion to the top.

Meanwhile pallets can be drafted into all kinds of service. The easiest thing is to paint and stack them to make a side table, but they aren’t too difficult to make into seated furniture, and even a swing – which is perfect for idling away a summer’s afternoon.

Got bitten by the DIY bug? Read on to find out how to make the most of your unwanted furniture around the home.

Originally published