Friday, May 8, 2009


This blue glass ball is a hummingbird feeder that
never really worked.  
This photo is from Anthropology's web site.
I made some of these from odds and ends
and they are still working for m

Repurposing is using something for a task other than what it was originally designed. Repurposing can be a gardener’s answer to low cost unique ornamentation.

Repurposing in the garden walks a fine line between artistic and junky. If you simply can’t restrain from the philosophy “Too much is never enough!” you may want to keep your efforts where you, not others, can luxuriate in the beauty. On the flip side, I’ve seen beautiful displays harshly critiqued by someone who simply had different taste.

Let’s investigate some repurposing ideas for both the antique lover and modernist.

Folding wood step ladder: A trellis for climbing plants or a display area for potted plants. Secure ladder & pots from tipping over.

Wheelbarrows & wagons: Drill drainage holes & line with an inch of drainage material. Include plants that vine over the edges.

Doors & windows: Remove glass. Placed just right, they can add mystery & structure. Add a wreath or window box. A quantity (with glass) may be assembled to form a greenhouse or garden shed. For safety sake, secure well.

Farm tools & kitchen utensils: Use as plant markers, bird houses, feeders, posts, trellis, flower pots or display accents.

Large farm & garden equipment: Plows & big antiques need lots of room and used in small numbers unless you are a “collector”. Collectors are not the same as garden decorators; they have different guidelines for their displays.

Bricks & stone: Paths, bed edging, retaining walls, tables, water gardens, dry river bed, hide something, & support for mailbox, birdhouse, etc.

Glass & china: Colored balls tucked into flower gardens can be a sweet surprise. Broken china & colored glass, marbles & jewelry can be inlaid in cement stepping stones. Wire wrapped around clear wide mouthed jars & hung from a branch or clothes line can hold votive candles. Set a bowl in the ground for a birdbath.

Rebar & construction metal: Sculpture & trellis prospects are unlimited by your imagination. Copper pipe trellis & sculpture. If you can weld, your design options increase. Rust & verdigris are colors & polished aluminum reflects light.

Wood structural pieces: Porch posts make good bird feeder/house support. Corbels brace bird houses on posts or trees. Bric-a-brac can be added to a trellis, poles, candle holders, top a clothesline poles or trim out the shed.

Most antique pieces will have a reduced lifespan when placed outside. I would not use the family heirloom. When a piece becomes destroyed by the elements, remove it from the garden.

Before placing repurposed items in the yard, consider safety if there are little children, big children, or adults who act like children. Falling on a glass ball, tripping onto a metal rebar spike, or having a glass greenhouse tumble on top of someone isn’t art anymore - it’s a hospital visit.

If you aren’t handy, don’t have decorating vision, or lack the time, many local shops, backyard sales, and flea markets carry repurposed items to help decorate the yard.

“Nature does not complete things. She is chaotic. Man must finish, and he does so by making a garden and building a wall.” Robert Frost, American writer, poet.

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