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.


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.

Make your own planters

Basically anything that’s past its prime and can be filled with soil can find a second life as a plant pot. Antique sinks are a common feature in gardens, but be on the lookout for old bathtubs or troughs as well. Car tyres (either on the ground or hung from a fence), trunks, boots and suitcases are all ideal for packing with potting soil. Your imagination is really the limit here.

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