Browse Landscapes Get ideas for your yard Backyards Front Yards
Find a Local Concrete Contractor See contractor photos & info in your area on
Search by city/state or postal code

The strong desire to be sustainable has led to an increase in the use of recycled materials in landscape design. Check out this slideshow for ideas for reusing items and materials in your garden.

Swipe to view slides

Hang a Pallet Garden

Up-cycling and vertical gardening are very popular, this idea combines them both. Take a discarded shipping pallet and turn it into a vertical garden. This one is backed with roofing paper and chicken wire and planted with ornamental plants. If growing herbs, it is recommended to use landscape fabric as the backer because it will not leach toxic chemicals into the plants.

An added benefit is that a garden like this will keep plants up out of the reach of destructive pets and critters. Other ideas for using recycled pallets in your garden include making a coffee table, a strawberry hut or even a fence.

Photo Credit: in Calimesa, CA

Use Glass Bottles to Build a Wall

Empty glass bottles make a unique and eco-friendly addition to a garden. They can be broken and embedded in stepping stones for a mosaic effect, or they can be used whole as garden edging. However, one of the most creative uses for recycled wine bottles is using them to build walls. Scott Cohen, of The Green Scene, an L.A. based landscape company, used 450 wine bottles to build a wall for an outdoor shower. This idea could also be used to create eclectic free-standing garden walls.

Watch the video about using glass bottles to build a wall for an outdoor shower

Construct an Artistic Recycled Fence

With a little ingenuity and an eye for upcycling, a recycled fence can be the star of the garden. Recycled lumber and salvaged metal are great materials for creating a sustainable and artistic fence. Start your hunt for fencing materials at local thrift shops and salvage yards. Also, Ebay, CraigsList and Etsy are websites where you can find decorative ceiling tins like the ones used in the fence pictured.

Photo Credit:

Create an Urbanite Patio or Path

Recently, urbanite, or broken concrete, has become a popular paving material. It is often irregularly shaped and is dry laid, giving it a very similar look to flagstone paving. Furthermore, concrete, even the old discarded type, can be stained a variety of colors to create a unique patio or path. Urbanite can be acquired, often for free, from demolition sites in your local area.

Photo Credit: Landscaping Network in Calimesa, CA

Incorporate Retro Patio Furniture

Mid-century modern design is experiencing a huge renaissance, especially outdoors. Retro patio furniture such as metal shell back chairs and gliders, Woodard sculptura patio sets and other outdoor designs are finding their way back into gardens across the country. If you'd like some retro garden furniture of your own start perusing garage and estate sales, visiting thrift and consignment stores and searching Etsy and Ebay. While at first the price tag may seem high, keep in mind that you'll be getting a vintage item, which is both stylish and sustainable.

Photo Credit: Etsy seller thevintagesupplyco in Delray Beach, FL

Find Ways to Use Old Doors & Windows

Salvaged doors and windows can easily be given new life as garden art. An old door can be used as a gate, potting bench or privacy screen. While windows can become wall décor, be turned into a garden mirror, be used to construct a small shed or greenhouse, or be hung from a porch or patio cover to create a unique transparent wall. Salvaged doors and windows are fairly easy to come by. They can usually be found at thrift stores or salvage yards for a reasonable price.

Photo Credit: Landscaping Network in Calimesa, CA

Turn Found Materials into Planters

One of the easiest, and perhaps most fun, forms of upcycling for the garden is turning found items into plant containers. This can be as simple as taking an old wheelbarrow or wagon and adding some soil and plants. Other items that can be repurposed into unique landscape planters include coffee cans, toy dump trucks, antique watering cans, old tires, a free-standing bath tub, a drum, or rain gutters. You can also take salvaged architectural items and building materials and create your own reclaimed planters.

Photo Credit: Landscaping Network in Calimesa, CA

Display Reclaimed Artwork

Displaying reclaimed artwork is a fun way to add personality to your garden while being environmentally conscious. There are a variety of artists working with reclaimed wood, metal and other materials. When selecting custom art for your yard, check with the artist to make sure it will hold up outside. Another option is to turn an antique into a unique focal point in your garden. Learn more about decorating with garden antiques.

Photo Credit: Landscaping Network in Calimesa, CA

Use a Vintage Fireplace on Your Patio

Sixties style fireplaces in vivid colors make a fun addition to any patio. Vintage Malm, Preway or other Eames era fireplaces are finding new life in the garden. These retro fireplaces are great for warming up your outdoor space as well as making a style statement, plus they are recycled. Finding one of these fireplaces for your patio may take patience and luck, but if you lack either of these check out Etsy, Ebay and Craigslist, as well as antique and consignment stores. You can expect to pay around 600 dollars for a used one, which isn't bad considering there won't be any installation fees.

Photo Credit: Apartment Therapy

Create an Outdoor Bar with Salvaged Metal

Salvaged corrugated steel is a great material for using in landscaping. Readily available at many salvage yards, it can be used for many creative garden projects. Mayita Dinos, an incredibly creative California designer, used it to create a funky outdoor bar. The outside of the bar was clad in the corrugated steel, with a band of vibrant tiles adding a burst of color. An outdoor bar is great if you plan to entertain and would love a space for making drinks or serving snacks, but don't want to commit to an entire outdoor kitchen.

Photo Credit: Mayita Dinos Garden Design in Los Angeles, CA

Store Garden Tools in an Unused Water Fountain

Repurpose an old wall fountain as a handy storage place for garden clippers, pruners, and other hand tools. This creative solution can give new life to an old fountain or recyclable piece of wall art. Just fill the basin with sand, and you've got an easy-access storage unit for garden tools, plus the sand will help keep them from rusting. Wall fountains double as art in many cases, and make great sculptural features in a garden. When it's inconvenient to get power and water to make the fountain work, consider keeping it for aesthetic purposes, and let it serve as a place to hold your tools.

Photo Credit: in Calimesa, CA

Check out this list of four ways to know if you're being sustainable.

Landscaping Network

Follow us on: