Recycling/Re-purposing & other Fancy Words for Re-Use

Since most of my plants are going dormant, I thought recycled garden art would be a good topic to discuss.

Whether influenced by my Dutch DNA or because I was poor in my younger years, I try to conserve my resources.  This doesn’t just impact the garden. I’ve handled my resources carefully long before it became popular in the recent economic recession (use of cloth grocery bags, grey water, cloth rags & newspaper instead of paper towels, homemade products, etc.).

Truthfully, I find a lot of people including my adult children could care less about reusing something.  That’s a pity because so many things are wasted, and their money is spent needlessly.  I can’t change the world though.  I can only account for myself.

Anyway, aside from reusing mundane stuff, I have a lot of recycled creative “stuff” in my garden.

No one I know sets out to make a garden ugly.  Some recycled “garden art” is amazing.  I’ve seen lots of lovely recycled garden art.  I’ve also seen things that frankly I wasn’t too crazy about. That’s okay.  We won’t all like the same thing, just as individuals differed widely on their vote in the presidential race.

However, on a positive note, even ugly recycled garden art isn’t made in China!  And that matters to me.

I have several utilitarian garden items made from recycled materials.  I did not take photos of some pieces such as the metal wind-turbine teepee trellis or the multi-colored baby bed springs trellis both located in my veggie patch.  I’m sure at some point, I’ll photograph them, but these items aren’t at the apex of lovely.

I do, however, want to show you what I did with a roof vent and a bunch of left-over plumbing materials.  I fully realize you may think all of this is ugly.

First a riddle:  You move in to your new old house and find a 7’ piece old metal plumbing pipe and 4 copper flex lines (the kind that go to hot water heaters) in a closet.

On hand, you have a bunch of hardware cloth, old bandanas, old cotton garden gloves, and an old rickety rake.

What would you do with all of that?  Throw it away?  Let the plumber cart off the copper flex lines? (He certainly wanted to.)

Since I’d installed a 20’ x 30’ fenced-in area for growing vegetables, I decided to use these items to create a scarecrow of sorts…Call me Dr. Frankenstein.

My scarecrow is actually my “Lady of the Garden” because she has no straw and doesn’t resemble a typical scarecrow.  Maybe that makes her Ms. Frankenstein of the Garden?

I used the flex lines with metal threaded pipe connectors for her arms and neck.  The metal plumbing pipe attached to a metal T connector became her skeleton upon which I hung her hardware cloth torso complete with bosoms. I realize it’s probably hard to envision this from my description.

When the body was assembled, I went to the thrift store to purchase her clothing and then to Etsy, an online store, to purchase her face, which is made of fired clay.  Her face was the most expensive part of this endeavor.

Well, it’s been a year since I made my Lady of the Garden. Most of us change our clothing more than once every 12 months.  And in the Lady’s case, her clothing, which was beaten up by the sun and rain, was falling apart.  Since I didn’t want a naked lady in my veggie patch, I made a thrift store crawl last week to find my lady some new apparel.

I bought her a hat, dress, and gave her new bandanas.  She still needs some tweaking (tighten the dress, change out one or two bandanas), but I’m fairly pleased.  Making her was a lot of fun.  img_0223


I almost threw the galvanized metal roof vent you see below away.  Frankly, it was ugly, and it may still be UGLY. ~Smile ~ Copper gas piping removed from the house sat around under a tree for over a year. I decided to put the two together and make a hanging planter.

The vent is painted with bronze metallic spray paint left over from a project.  To keep the soil from falling out where the plants live, I used hardware cloth screwed to the back of the vent. Pieces of broken clay pottery were placed in front of the hardware cloth to further prevent soil from falling out.  The roof vent hangs from a towel rack that had seen better days.  I sprayed it black. Still need to paint the screw tops black and touch up the curtain hangers.  The square facing might look better if it were trimmed to be smaller.  Also perhaps I should paint drops dripping from the holes in the facing?


Certainly not beautiful is the old iron arm from a garden bench given to me by a friend.  The original bench and the other matching iron arm are long gone.  I have the arm hung on a tree in a part of the yard that isn’t a focal point for anything.  As you can see, it holds a garden hose.


Yes, that IS a dog’s tail you see above.


(The above photo was posted previously. Plants are going dormant.)

Finally, the terracotta urn attached to the fence post on the left was a throw-away. I literally picked it up from a ditch off of the side of the road. It was broken perfectly almost as if it were made to hang on the fence.  I like it.

One rule I hold fast to when recycling items for the garden is they can’t be valuable antiques.  I’ve seen beautiful antiques put out in the garden, and it shoots a hole in my heart every time.  Everything I recycle for the garden is not historically valuable or at least it isn’t at this moment.  Also, not everything is worth recycling.

More than anything, I want my garden to be about the plants and not things so I need make sure I adhere to this rule.

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