Recycling – When to tell yourself “No”

I’ve been feeling guilty about this blog because, while I love to write, sometimes I don’t have enough time.  The last few days have been like that….crawled under the house because I was worried about termites (didn’t find any, but I found a leak), called a plumber (ugh!), went to Lowe’s for mulch & potting soil, mulched about 16 feet of pathway and placed mulch around various plants, re-potted 12 seedlings, and pulled enough weeds to fill three contractor bags.   It’s Spring. I’m sure you are just as busy.


Mulched pathway (cardboard underneath) Clay plumber’s pipes to be filled with cascading plants.

Okay, on with this post…

I try to walk my pooches daily or rather, they walk me. It’s good for my health and theirs.

This means I see the neighborhood streets almost each day and often find things people put on the curb such as bags of pine straw and leaves (think mulch), swing set chains (think hanging pots, birdhouses, etc.), my new shelving “tuteur”, plant pots, metal stools, birdbaths, pieces of fencing, garden tools, etc.


Shelving tuteur on left.  Baby vines have not grown up it yet.



Homeowner passed away.  These were on the curb along with a very old concrete pot two rake heads, and a slightly broken concrete statue.



Blue stool is another curbside find.  While I’ve not used it yet to hold potted plants, I will.  This is an example of what it could look like.

Some of my finds have been absolutely wonderful (like the one below) and still bring me joy to this day.  But finding something that is recyclable and usable doesn’t mean I need to bring every item home. This happened to me a few days ago.

Found fence and poles made into trellis.  Recently painted black and added finials that I already had.

As I walked passed what I believed to be a rental house used as a business (daycare?), it looked like the owners were cleaning it out after their tenants had vacated.  At the curb leaning against the garbage container was a disassembled shelf unit in perfect condition with all of the parts. Assembled, it would look exactly like this.

“Wow,” I thought, “what a find!”  But I didn’t need more shelving inside or outside my house.  What I need is an arbor.  I took a second look at the shelving and realized that, yes, the shelves could be turned into a large sturdy arbor if they were attached lengthwise, one above the other, vertically to 4 x 4 wood posts sunk into the ground.  Since the shelves were 48” long, two of them would actually go up 8 ft on each side to make the walls of an arbor.  But, while this “arbor” would be sturdy and almost free, in my eyes it would also be ugly.

Sometimes “homemade” means quirky or rustic, and that’s cool.  Sometimes, it’s okay for “homemade” to be ugly as in the case of my vegetable trellises.  Most people don’t expect beautiful artwork in a vegetable garden.  The same holds true for homemade compost bins.  Compost is many great things, but it’s not exactly beautiful.

It wasn’t lost on me that while I decided not to take this shelving unit, someone else might want it.  I talked to my neighbor about it, and he was enthusiastic.  He needed more shelving in his garage, and this was perfect.  It was a win-win situation for both of us:  I felt good he got the shelving, and he felt happy to get it.

This topic leads me to another one, which is it’s all too easy when you pick up a recyclable item to let it sit around looking ugly either outside or in your home.  If you want your garden and/or your home to look lovely, you don’t want a bunch of recyclable junk literally littering the landscape.  (Too much ill-literation, I know.  ~ Grin.~ )  Believe me, I’ve been guilty of this exact thing from time to time, but have worked to change my behavior.

I once found a huge metal birdcage (one that would house a parrot).  It sat sheltered in my yard for 4 months.  I decided I owned enough birdcages to put plants in, so I contacted a gardening friend, and she took it immediately.  Why did I wait so long?

I completely understand the fun creative part of recycling an item, but the underside is if the recycling happens later rather than sooner, it may become a liability.  I try to keep this in mind for myself.

There will come a day when I will need to say “no” to almost all garden recyclables because I know it’s possible to have too many non-plant things in a garden.

Happy Easter or (late) Solstice or Spring to all of you!

3 thoughts on “Recycling – When to tell yourself “No”

  1. You are so right. You don’t want a garden to turn into a junk yard with unused items just hanging around and some things are not worth the trouble. Love those wrought iron baskets you found. Now they would be tempting.

    Liked by 1 person

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