Gardening can be expensive. From planters to seed starting mixture, seedlings to grow lights, there are all kinds of things that you can buy to improve the success of your backyard plot.
But do you really have to spend the money?
In many cases, no - you don’t. There are all kinds of items that you can repurpose from around the house to stretch your gardening budget a little further.
Don’t believe us? Here are x things you can upcycle in the garden.
25 Things You Can Upcycle in the Garden
The pallet is the number one tool you can make use of if you want to stretch your gardening budget. Pallets are often available free of charge at most department stores, warehouses, and other places that tend to get large deliveries of items in bulk.
A few ideas of what you can do with those pallets when you get them home?
You can make a seating area, a vertical planter, or even grow plants like green beans in pallets horizontally on the ground. Pallets can also be cut up and used for any project that requires building lumber or similar materials. If you’re going to use pallets around edible crops, just make sure you use ones that are made out of untreated wood. Check out these ideas for other interesting outdoor pallet projects.
2. Mason Jars
Mason jars also have a lot of value in the garden. If you have a ton of cracked or broken jars laying around, don’t throw them out just yet. While you can’t exactly use them for canning anymore, you can use them to add some flair to the garden. Mason jars make attractive decorations that can catch the light, as seen in this tutorial.
You can also make a fun wind chime out of mason jars. Mason jars can also be used to hold plants, to serve as seed starters, or even to organize small tools and tiny bits of gardening materials. Love jar crafts? Find 50 more mason jar projects here.
If you have a few old tires laying around, there are a few ways you can make use of them in the garden. The best way is to make a planter. You can leave the tire as is or paint it - whatever the case may be, a tire of any size is a valuable tool for a budget-savvy gardener. Check out our old tire upcycling collection for more ideas.
Even an old metal trunk can serve a purpose in the garden. Rather than throwing it out when it gets rusty and will no longer close, consider relocating it to the garden. You can paint it if you really care about its appearance, but otherwise, all you need to do is pop it in the ground, plant, and repeat.
Spoons can be really helpful when it comes to digging out stubborn weeds, so if you are cleaning out the cutlery drawer, don’t throw them out just yet. You can also make a windchime out of spoons, which will add a gorgeous appearance and charming boho vibe to your gardening space.
Another potential use for a set of spoons is upcycled garden markers. You can etch into them or just write directly on them. Learn how to upcycle old kitchen items in the garden (50 projects).
6. Popsicle Sticks
Don’t trash those popsicle sticks after your afternoon snack. Save them - they make great garden planters so that you can mark the spot of everything you decide to grow. Love popsicle stick crafts? We have 50 more here.
If you have any leaky buckets lying around, don’t throw them out. They might not be good at carrying water any more, but you can still use them in the garden. The leakiness will actually serve you well, as it will serve as its own built-in drainage when you use the buckets as planters! If you don’t like how they look, you can always cover them with burlap.
When you see windows lying on the side of the road for free, don’t drive by - scoop them up! They make great cold frames. All you have to do is fashion the window to a DIY cold frame base (which you can make out of scrap wood - see pallet tip above!) and you’ll have a growing space that will let you produce delicious veggies even when there is snow on the ground.
9. Stock Tanks
It can be difficult to source stock tanks if you live in an agricultural area where people tend to scoop them up fast for their animals. However, if you’re lucky enough to have one lying around and find that it just doesn’t hold water as it used to, save it. It will make a great planter for your garden.
Have a few old saw horses lying around? Use them to support a lightweight planter. They don’t have to look great to get the job done!
A colander (along with really any kind of pots and pans) will work wonders when used as a planter. You can fill it with all kinds of flowers, herbs, and other plants. The beauty of planting in a colander is that it comes with its own built-in drainage system, too.
12. Dresser Drawers
One of the newest trends in gardening is to upcycle old dressers and bureaus into gardening stands. You can also pull the drawers and plant directly in them, as long as you have some sort of drainage system built in.
13. Shoe Racks
Believe it or not, an over-the-door shoe or accessory organizer can make a great planter. All you need is a bit of soil and your seeds!
14. Light Bulbs
You can start your seeds indoors in lightbulbs, or you can take those same light bulbs and use them as vertical planters. Charming!
15. Milk Jugs
Milk jugs can not only be used as planters - when displayed side by side, they actually have a fun artistic vibe - but they can also be used for a more practical purpose. If an unexpected frost threatens your garden plants, just cut the top off the jugs and flip them upside down over your plants. The jugs will serve as cloches over your plants so you don’t have to worry about the plants being vulnerable to the cold.
Even toys can be recycled in the garden! If your kid has grown too old to play with his toy trucks, you can turn the Tonka into a planter. It’s charming and will let you hang on to a chunk of nostalgia even after your child has grown up and moved out of the house.
Another way to use toys in the garden? Have your kids make good use of all those Legos and build you a planter!
17. Wooden Spoons
Just like regular spoons, wooden spoons should never be thrown away. Instead, you should save them and use them as markers in your garden. You’ll be able to write or paint directly on them!
18. Coffee Cans
Coffee cans are indispensable to the backyard gardener! You can grow plants in them and you can use them to store compost ingredients, too. A detailed tutorial on how to make an insect hotel here.
19. Toilet Paper Tubes
Don’t throw out those empty toilet paper (or paper towel) tubes. Instead, recycle them. You can fold them at the bottom and fill them with soil to use them as plantable, biodegradable seed starters, or you can even turn one into a DIY bird feeder by covering it in peanut butter and birdseed. Genius! Check out our seed starters to discover 20 other upcycled projects.
Have a few broken chairs lying around? YOu can use them to sit in the garden, for sure, but you could also use them as planters or plant shelves, too.
21. Mattress Springs
Do you plan on upgrading to a new mattress? Don’t toss the old springs - use them in your garden to make a DIY trellis that will support your vining vegetables and other plants.
22. Broken Dishes
Don’t throw out those broken dishes just yet. Instead, pick up the pieces and use them to make a gorgeous mosaic stepping stone for the garden. You can also use the pieces to cover up cracks in a clay pot. Love these? Check out 20 more projects featuring broken china glasses.
23. Cupcake Pans
Just because your favorite cupcake pan is worn and rusty doesn’t mean it’s time to kick it to the curb. Instead, add a bit of soil and use it to start your seeds.
24. Trash Bins
An easy way to upcycle trash bins is to use them as rain barrels with spouts. You can also use them to make your own compost bins.
25. Hair Clips
If you have any plants that require a bit more support in the garden, a hair clip is a good way to hold it up and prevent it from being damaged. You can use these clips on just about anything, from vining plants or small trees.
When it comes to upcycling items for the garden, there are truly no limits to what can be done. Not only can you reduce the amount of trash that you are sending to the landfill, but you can add a rustic and eclectic vibe to your garden in the process, too.
Be creative and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. After all, what do you have to lose?