Posts tagged "garden"

What can I reuse or recycle to make a bird bath?

Annetta has emailed with two great questions. Here’s the first:

Any ideas on making a bird bath out of recycled [things from] around the house?

I think it depends on whether you want something pretty, quirky or just something practical for the birds to use, looks be damned. I’d love to hear ideas for all three, personally!

I love old ceramic basins outside – not just the de rigeur belfast sink planter but bathroom ones with ivy or another climber creeping their way up around the pedestal and taps too. With a well-fitting plug, that would work well as a bird bath.

A big old steel wok could be upcycled into one too – it would need a base if it was a round-bottomed one, but I’m sure that could be fashioned fairly easily from some scrap wood (or branches). I’d imagine it might need some protection from the water/the elements – would painting it with metal paint work/be bird friendly?

Staying in the kitchen, an old pottery mixing bowl or the like would be about the right size. We sometimes crack soup bowls in a way that we wouldn’t want to use them for cooking any more but they are still be water-tight enough for underneath plant pots (especially with a little slick of non-foodsafe sealant up the crack) — using the same sealant, a mixing bowl might be watertight enough to be a cute, quirky bird bath.

So that’s a few ideas – has anyone got any other suggestions?

I’ve been a bit lazy really, just suggested things that are already bird bath size/shaped — any creative suggestions for making them other things?

How can I reuse or recycle Leylandii/conifer branches?

We’ve had an email from Jennifer (sorry it’s taken a few weeks to feature it, Jennifer!):

We hacked down a couple of huge nasty Leylandii conifer trees from our garden this weekend and don’t know what to do with the wood and branches. It’s far too much for our own compost bin, fear for the state of our car if we tried to take them to the council compost collection because they’re dropping resin and I’ve read that you shouldn’t burn them. My husband thinks the only option might be hiring a skip for landfill but I’d still prefer a green option!

Ahh, Leyland Cypress. Depending on your point of view, it’s either the useful sound/pollution blocking instant-hedge or the scourge of urban gardens with its own Asbo law.

As we have a woodburning stove and a father-in-law who skip-dives for all sorts of wood, we’ve read quite a bit about burning leylandii – some people say as long as it is sufficiently dry (seasoned), it’s fine to burn and is actually a good start-of-fire accelerator. But it is full of sticky resin which can clog up chimneys with creosote and cause chimney fires – the pro-burning-it people say as long as it’s seasoned and completely dry, this isn’t a problem but it takes a good couple of years to reach that state. (Outdoor fires, such as bonfires, won’t have a build-up problem but if you burn it fresh/green, it will give off clouds of smoke and spit furiously.)

A quick Google tells me that some people use sections of cut-down Leylandii trees in aviaries to provide secluded roosting space for small birds. Other people shred them up and use them as woodchippings for paths – they will compost down eventually but will probably take a few years. If you don’t fancy doing either of those things, perhaps someone on your local Freecycle/Freegle may be interested in doing it…?

Any other suggestions or ideas?

How can I reuse or recycle (or repair) broken terracotta plant pots?

We’ve had an email from Natasha:

It seems a good number of my terracotta plant pots cracked in the cold over winter. What can I reuse them for?

Holding your horses, you may be able to repair them if it’s just a relatively clean crack – this Instructable fixes a broken-in-half pot with epoxy resin, this how-to uses silicone sealant and wire, and this eHow also uses wire. Anyone got any fixing/mending advice?

Even it’s beyond repair, don’t discount it as still being useful as a planter – some people make very effective use of broken pots to create a shabby chic/Roman ruins feel for the garden.

If it’s even beyond that though, broken up, it could still be useful in the garden – providing interesting/useful shade for aquatic life in a pond or as water draining crocks at the bottom of the new replacement plant pots.

(And don’t forget to stop history repeating itself by protecting terracotta and the like over winter. From what I’ve read, pots fired to a higher temperature are more frost resistant too, so look out for “frost proof” pots too.)

Any other repair or reuse suggestions?

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.