Natural Stone and Timber

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Upcycling Ideas for the Garden

Rob Byrne - Friday, December 28, 2012

Upcycling – taking something old, unneeded or broken and repurposing it in renewed form.

We love to upcycle – you could count our reclaimed railway sleepers as a form of upcycling! The thing we love about it is that in a time of austerity, you can invest in good quality basics like Indian sandstone paving, and then use your own ingenuity and skill to create a highly personalised outdoor space that is quite literally the fruit of your own elbow grease!

1. Add sculpture with old drainpipes

Adding depth to a flat bedding area could mean waiting years for a decent hydrangea to grow. Why not use old plastic drainpipes to make modern sculpture planters? Saw the drainpipes to varying heights, leaving about an extra 30cm to sink into the ground. Keep the pieces roughly between ankle height and shoulder height. Arrange the pieces into an interesting formation, sink them and fill with soil. Finally, just plant some seasonal shrubs in the top and enjoy!

2. Use an old swing A-frame to build a chicken coop

According to beekeeping supplies company, Fragile Planet, more and more people are looking to things like urban beekeeping and chicken ownership to make their lives a little more natural and environmentally friendly. What could be more eco-friendly than turning an old swing set A-frame into a chicken house?

There are plenty of ways to do it, the two most common being covering the frame in chicken wire to give urban chickens a safe outdoor run area. The other is to cover the frame with a layer of weatherproof corrugated sheeting or insulated plastic, install nesting boxes, perches and a secure door, and let your chickens enjoy their new home next to the garden decking.

3. Railways sleeper raised bedding areas

We ran a great article about some creative things you can do with railway sleepers in your garden. Using them to create custom raised bedding areas is a superb way to make customisable, easy to maintain planting spaces in your yard or garden.

4. Grow fruits and vegetables in wooden pallet beds

Pallets are virtually designed for growing fruit and vegetables! Take something like onions, which love to grow in nice uniform rows. Sink the pallet into a bedding area so it's half submerged, then plant in between the wooden planks and wait – quite literally – for the fruits and vegetables of your labour!

5. Make planters out of... just about anything!

Creating custom planters is a great way to add some bespoke character to your outdoor areas. It doesn't matter whether you've only got a tiny yard or acres of pasture; a few planters made from old cat food tins, pans, tea cups, broken watering cans, car tyres, hollowed out tree stumps or whatever else you've got lying around can add a great creative spark! We love to collect old tins of varying sizes, treat them with a primer, spray paint them with bright weatherproof paint, drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage and pop them around the garden full of seasonal shrubs.