6 Household Items You Can Upcycle for the Garden

Got a pile of junk destined for the curb? Give it new life as a trellis or planter in the garden.

6 Household Items You Can Upcycle for the Garden - Photo courtesy Nico Cavallotto/Flickr (UrbanFarmOnline.com)Gardeners are a resourceful bunch, and there’s nothing better than creating conversation pieces for the landscape. The garden is the perfect place to repurpose materials from the home that have outlived their traditional function. It’s much more satisfying to use an old household item rather than to buy something new, particularly if it would otherwise be destined for the curb. Here are some ideas for upcycled garden features to help get your creative juices flowing.

1. Baby Crib Trellis

Discarding a well-loved baby crib can be emotional, but using it in the garden to support vining plants gives it new life. A simple and sturdy structure can easily be put together by setting the sides on end in an A-frame configuration. You can also use the end pieces, which are more narrow but typically taller, for a support system for taller plants. Fasten them on the top with twine or zip ties.

Even the springs from older cribs can be utilized when fastened to remain upright. Most cribs are roughly 30 inches wide, giving you a medium height for trellising vegetables like peas or cucumbers. Secure it by pounding two 36-inch pieces of rebar 10 inches deep at each end of the springs, then set the springs upright against them, and attach them to the rebar with wire or twine. If you’re using wire, be sure to bend it down flush so you don’t poke yourself when the vines grow over and cover the sharp ends.

2. Vertical Shower Support

If you’re looking for a functional piece of botanical art, keep your eyes open for a free-standing shower with the ring to hold a curtain attached at the top, such as one used in a claw-foot bathtub. Secure the vertical pipe to a firm post to keep it from moving or tipping over. To create a living shower curtain, grow hops or other vining plants up strings going from the ground to the top ring. And, for the shower, add a hose attachment to the bottom of the pipe in order to easily screw on the garden hose for a quick wash after working in the garden.

3. Windows for Cold Frames

It’s hard to resist interesting, old windows. With enduring character, they’re often an inexpensive choice for a unique lid on a cold frame. However, be cautious when recycling windows. Those with single panes of glass break easily and should be absolutely avoided if there are children or pets in the garden.

Tempered glass is a better option, though it can be heavy and unwieldy. It also can’t be cut to fit a frame, so you’ll need to construct your cold frame size around the dimensions of the glass. Use caution with these heavy windows, as they can be difficult to maneuver and would hurt tremendously if the lid accidently slipped and fell on an arm or head.

Be aware of lead paint on old windows, as well. If they were pulled from a home prior to 1978, there’s a distinct possibility lead paint was used on them. This is even more prevalent in homes before 1940. Unless you plan to refinish these windows you should probably steer clear.

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