Design & Decor - Garden Decor

From the recycle bin to the garden

How to create innovative features out of items headed for the dump

Like many gardeners, we compost, use eco-friendly pest control and fill our beds with drought-resistant flowers. But when we landscaped three years ago, we went a step further and incorporated recycling into our design. An unsightly concrete walkway, unusable doors and outdated garden equipment found new life in our garden. This wallet- and eco-friendly approach created innovative features that added character, not kitsch, to our property.

Some of the recycled features include:

Faux stone walls:
The former concrete walkway stretched from the front door to the street like a landing strip. When we installed a meandering brick path, we tore up the concrete and used it to create "stone" retaining walls for raised beds. To do this, we broke the concrete into pieces, which we turned upside down before stacking in layers. Although the walls took a year to weather from stark white to a credible stone grey, they look convincing, especially with periwinkle or ivy growing over top. As an unexpected bonus, our lavender thrives on the lime that leaches naturally from the concrete.

Mock windows:
Cutting warped Victorian-style wooden screen doors down into windows solved more than one problem. No only did we avoid sending wood to landfill, once mounted on the side of the house, the salvaged doors generated focus for wall features no one noticed. The former doors now frame previously ignored ornamental lion heads.

Door to the secret garden:
With the glass removed from its window, another wooden door is transformed into a trellis for eye-catching clematis. Sandwiched between two lattice fences, the door effectively blocks the view of the neighbour's garage while adding a touch of whimsy. The door's large wrought iron latch tempts visitors to open the door and step into an unseen garden beyond.

Natural trellis:
Planting a new perennial bed unearthed the stump and roots of a walnut tree that had been cut down years before. Placed on its side, the unusual root formation created a natural, low trellis. We trained a variegated euonymus over the roots to provide height and year-round colour in the perennial bed.

Granite conversation piece:
Our 140-year-old house came with an unadvertised bonus—a solid granite lawn roller, too rusted and heavy to use. To tie in with the faux stone walls, we removed the roller's crumbling iron handles and placed the granite head in the garden a few feet behind the wall. Although partially hidden by the surrounding perennials, its smooth, glittery surface stands out just enough to draw interest from guests who want to know the story behind the stone.

Charmian Christie is an avid gardener and home cook. When she's not digging in the dirt, she's charting her culinary adventures on her blog, Christie's Corner.

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