Waste not, want not

Recycle, repurpose, reutilize: Call it what you will. The fact is that it’s fun to find new life and purpose for weatherworn, broken, or discarded objects.

Spring cling. Upright bedsprings attract vines like bees to honey. Create garden screens or walls by growing hyacinth bean or air potato on large springs. All photos by Diane Morey Sitton.

The idea isn’t novel or new. The proverbial saying, “Willful waste makes woeful want” was first recorded in 1576. The concise version, “waste not, want not”, rolled off the tongue some 200 years later. However you want to say it, using a commodity or resource to its full potential is second nature to crafters of tire planters and bedspring trellises.

Never more radiant. Rusty wheelbarrows make portable planters. Utilize them for flowers, herbs, or shallow-rooted veggies such as lettuce.

If you are new to the concept, start small. Paint a tin can with bright colors, punch a hole in the bottom, and use it as a pot. Better yet, create a planter from an old basket, wood box, vintage soda crate, worn out wheelbarrow, or pedestal sink. As you gain confidence, recycle a dresser into a multi-compartment mini-garden. Paint the dresser pink, red or blue to ramp up garden color.

A-door-able. Plants and garden art turn an old door into a focal point.

Where utility is foremost, use the upright post from a floor lamp to suspend a birdhouse, or set a birdhouse or flower pot atop a worn-out ladder. Make a tool hanger from the head of an iron rake. Use a cast-off door as a tabletop or as a backdrop to hang collectibles, plants, or other items. Need a potting shed door handle? Not a problem. Attach a hand weeding tool.

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Where fun is favored over function apply paint to hubcaps, fan blades, and propellers to transform them into flowers. Grow the showy blooms in the garden on rebar stems or affix them to a fence. Sculpt chicken wire into round allium bloom heads or graceful snowdrops. With practice, fashion the pliable wire into a rabbit or a squirrel. Still more chicken wire? Make a garden angel, and then spray paint it white.

Totems made from vases, goblets, saucers, and other glass add sparkle to gardens.

If it’s sparkle you want, catch the light with a mini-totem created from glass saucers, bowls, and florist vases. Mimic old-timers’ thriftiness by displaying colorful bottles on “bottle trees” or any place the sun’s rays illuminate the glass. Likewise, designs painted in translucent colors on old windows will glow when backlit by the sun.

Message in a bottle. Recycle colorful bottles to make bottle trees, borders, or flower-filled vases. Attach the vases to gates, fences, and porch posts.

In some cases, repurposing in the garden saves money; in other cases, it fans creativity. Then, again, it might be a way to hang on to a beloved-but-broken garden tool, a rusted-out cart, or a gift item from a gardening friend that has worn out its intended use. In the garden as elsewhere, great delight comes from saving the item along with the memory.

Posted by Diane Morey Sitton
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