Archive for the "garden" category

What can I reuse or recycle to make a vertical garden/living wall?

Readers of my simple/DIY living blog The Really Good Life will already know that I’m trying to make more efficient use of the space in my garden this year – I’ve been making lots of planters and raised beds from scrap wood (including this weekend, a 3ftx3ft bed for square foot gardening from our old bathroom cupboard doors) and I’m also interested in vertical gardening – creating a living wall of salad, herbs and companion plants.

I’ve explored the various different types of wall planters/hangers that you can buy – from essentially shelves, to window boxes, fabric bags and complicated systems – but me being me, I would prefer to make them myself, ideally reusing and recycling stuff I already have stashed around the place.

Some lovely people have already made some suggestions – I’m going to try making upside down planters from squash bottles and a fancy living wall type system from an old pallet when I find a suitable one – but I thought I’d ask on here as well in case anyone else has any suggestions.

I realise we’ve already covered similar areas like this before but I think the wall-mounted aspect opens up some other options – and I’d love to hear them.

What have you used to make wall planters? Have you made a vertical garden or a living wall? Or have you made any hanging baskets from anything interesting?

How can I reuse or recycle mixed/MDF sawdust?

We’ve had an email from Paul:

We’ve got an extraction system at our joinery shop which produces big bags of sawdust but we use a lot of MDF and other particle boards so it can’t be used for animal bedding. Do you know how they could be recycled?

We’ve covered wood shavings recycling before but the obvious answer there was animal bedding – lots of people want rid of them and lots of people want it! The MDF dust is a bit of a stick in the wheels though – as Paul says, there are issues using MDF dust in animal bedding — the dust is so fine it can easily be kicked up and lead to respiratory problems.

So what else can be done with it? I did wonder whether it could be pressed into wooden pellets for biomass boilers but apparently the glues/chemicals used in particle board construction may be problematic – an undesirable contaminant. Any other ideas?

(Photo by Vaderluck)

How can I reuse or recycle pruned Catalpa wood?

We’ve had another email from friend of Recycle This, Petra:

I need your help again. I hope I can explain the topic well, because I’m not used to discuss garden items in English.

We have a Catalpa tree in our garden, which produces every year a lot of new branches. The year after, in March, you need to prune all these new
branches to make room for the new ones. My question is, what can I do with all these old branches. Of course I can burn them in the fireplace, but the wood grew fast and burns fast.

I was thinking about braiding a fence, like they do with willow branches, but I’ve no idea if Catalpa branches can be used for something like that. All other ideas are also welcome.

I hadn’t heard of a Catalpa tree so wondered if they are something that doesn’t grow in the UK – but apparently the oldest one in the world is in Reading so I’m not only wrong, I’ve been wrong for 150 years. Shows what I (don’t) know.

Apparently pioneer farmers in the US used Catalpa farmers to make “strong, lightweight rot-resistant fence posts” so I guess they could be used for some small structural purposes. I’m not sure whether it would be suitable for weaving like hazel or willow though – it might snap when it dries – anyone know?

It’s also supposed to be good for woodworking because it has an interesting grain – but I think you’d be limited on what you could make from year old wood (crochet hooks? sculptures of single strands of spaghetti?).

Any other suggestions for ways to use the wood?

How can I reuse or recycle old glazed doors?

We’ve had an email from Sandra:

We’ve replaced some old fashioned doors with glass in them. What can we do with them now?

I’ve got an eBay saved search which looks for cheap big used home/garden stuff in my local area – and there are always doors on there. Most don’t sell for a lot of money but at least they’ll be reused. There is, of course, Freecycle/Freegle too.

I’ve seen old doors – glazed or not – used creatively around gardens and allotments — properly weather-protected, they can be used as fencing and old panelled doors are a lot prettier than garden gates in a shabby chic/secret garden style. There is a path through some allotments near where we walk the dog sometimes; tall box hedging on each side but every now and then there is a fancy old door leading into a plot – very fun.

Depending on the extent/position of the glazing, it may be worth using them for other purposes in the garden too – for example, quite woody doors can be sliced in half lengthways to make planking for raised beds or the like, but doors including more, particularly clear, glass could be incorporated into a greenhouse or used to make a cold frame.

Any other ideas? Particularly any non-garden ideas? I think I’m a bit obsessed with gardens at the moment!

(Photo by clshearin)

How can I reuse or recycle roofing felt?

We’ve had an email from Daniel:

Can I recycle roofing felt? I have a lot of small pieces to get rid of.

I’ve not heard of it being recyclable and looking into it, it seems unlikely because it’s several hard/impossible to recycle materials all squished together.

The better option would be to use it up somehow. Small pieces can be used for various roofing projects in the garden – for example, on top of rabbit hutches or the like*, or really small pieces could be used for the roof of a covered bird table.

As always, if you can’t use it up/reuse it in that way, try offering the pieces on your local Freecycle/Freegle group — someone nearby may make hutches or bird tables and be able to include it in their work.

Any other suggestions for using up small pieces of roofing felt? Daniel doesn’t say how small is small but I’m imagining roll-ends and off-cuts, so nothing more than a few feet wide.

* it’s not recommended to use roofing felt on anything to do with chicken coops because it provides a perfect breeding ground for red mites – but our coop came with it on the nest box part and it’s actually the least red mite-y area in the coop. I wouldn’t include it if I was building a coop from scratch though.