Most people plan their gardens so that others notice the beauty and the work that went into preparing them. Converting recycled materials into garden structures will give you a one-of-a-kind decorative addition that enhances your plantings and will catch everyone's attention. It costs nothing, plus it will give you the satisfaction of knowing that by recycling building and other materials, you have reduced your environmental footprint.
Add a Water Feature to Your Garden
An old discarded sunken bathtub or hot tub will make a "pond" in your garden with just some digging, sealant and some well-placed rocks. For a smaller water feature, sink a plastic bucket into the ground, place a water pump into bucket with a pipe that forces the water upwards. Cover the top of the bucket with a piece of recycled metal screen. Arrange rocks on top of the screen so as to completely cover it. Plug in the pump and the water will come up and through the rocks.
Build a Garden Arbor
A garden arbor is a versatile addition to any garden. A small arbor can welcome guests to the garden as they pass under it. A larger arbor can provide a shady place to set supporting grapes or other vinelike plants. Arbors can be made from recycled copper or PVC pipe. Recycled 2x4s work well, too, if they are straight and in good condition. To create a natural looking arbor, collect old branches from downed trees and use these to construct the arbor. Use screws to attach the branches and then cover them by wrapping jute rope around the branches to keep the natural look.
Renovated buildings offer a large choice of recycled materials, including broken concrete. Small pieces of concrete can be used to line walkways. Larger pieces can be used as stepping stones. These same pieces can be dry stacked to create raised flowerbeds. Larger pieces can be laid in a bed of sand to form a patio. Concrete is one of those materials that do not break down in the landfill, so finding a practical use for it can make a big difference to the environment.
Build a Greenhouse
If you are fortunate enough to acquire some discarded wood-framed, single-pane windows, you can construct a small greenhouse for your garden. Recycle some pieces of concrete slab to make the floor and some 2x4s to frame the roof. With some luck and perseverance, you can construct the entire project out of recyclables.