My mother was a notorious skinflint and I think I’ve inherited the gene. Why pay for a plantpot saucer when a plastic food container will do? Why buy plant ties when old tights do a much better job?
It seems I am not alone. Watch any home design TV show and it will doubtless feature a hipster with a beard making shelves out of old drawers while talking excitedly about ‘upcycling’.
But gardeners have always been inventive. You have to be when planning and developing a garden – reusing old stuff comes naturally to us.
We asked Which? Gardening and Which? members if they had ever reused household items in the garden – yes, came back the answer, loud and clear. 83% of Gardening members and a third of Which? members reuse items rather than send them to landfill.
And we were hugely impressed with how ingenious the suggestions were.
Kettles, loos and casseroles used for upcycling
No end of people reuse their old bathrooms in the garden. Loos are turned into planters, sinks become alpine troughs and baths are reused as ponds.
More leftovers from home makeovers include using rafters to create raised beds and old windows to make cold frames. Chimney pots are used as garden pots or for forcing rhubarb, while guttering can be used to sow peas in or to grow strawberries or herbs.
Kitchen rejects find their way into the garden. Small pots can be made from tea pots, kettles, saucepans, jugs and casseroles. All they need are some drainage holes drilled into the bottom.
Alternatively you can use a colander where the drainage holes come pre-made. Use these for plants that are happy in dry conditions, such as houseleeks.
I used to grow house leeks in a set of cutlery holders from Ikea that would be hung from a bar on the wall. It looked gorgeous against the brickwork next to the back door.
What are the most popular items to reuse?
Pots can be made from almost anything: car tyres are popular, but inventive members have used a tumble-drier bin, a coal scuttle and a Henry vacuum cleaner.
Every gardener loves their compost heap, and old pallets are a common material. I have been known to beg these off local builders. Members told us they’ve used fence panels, a kitchen table and even a child’s cot.
The most popular items to reuse were woody prunings as supports for climbing plants, plastic bottles for watering and bricks for making paths.
So are you a thrifty upcycler or would you rather splurge on new pots? Do you go for the boho look or sleek sophistication? And what’s the least likely object you’ve reused?