Re-use, recycle and re-purpose to make unique and useful garden art with rustic salvage. I make gadgets and gizmos and fun ways to display my succulent collection out of rustic items I salvage from the recycle center, junk piles out behind old barns and at local garage sales.
I run the risk of being classed as a hoarder, as I have the battle cry – you never know when you might need that – as I put the salvaged and rescued item on a shelf for later use.
I routinely go to the recycle center and the thrift store, sometimes finding nothing that appeals to me, sometimes a windfall of old junk that I can re-purpose into something useful or decorative for my micro farm and nursery.
Gems hide in the goodwill store in the form of enamel pots, glass fish bowls and chipped china compotes or tea pots, chafing dishes and kettles.
Don't overlook any object that could possibly hold soil and be planted with succulent plants, or could be a hanger for a rustic garden sign. Be creative, and think outside the box.
Even shoes and boots, or handbags will make an incredibly whimsical container for succulents.
Here are a few things I’ve recycled and made into a useful tool or garden art:
My favorite things to collect are rusty old metal things; hooks, hinges, clasps; old horse tack like this hame (part of a draft horse collar); worn out boots and other leather items that I can plant with something drought tolerant, and any other item that looks promising – even worn out baskets, as I use them for a mold for a hypertufa pot.
Old kitchen items such as a wok that has gone too rusty to cook in, or old enameled coffee pots or cooking pots can be used for for collecting the bounty from your sustainable garden.
A recycled coffee can makes a great protection device for outside outlets, which should be a ground fault interrupter circuit, but on old trailers and houses built when it wasn’t a requirement of the electrical code here’s a useful gadget.
The coffee can protects the outlet from rain and ice falling off the roof where there is no overhang. You can also use these to hang hoses near a hose bib.
Light fixtures, out of date and discarded, make wonderful rain chains.
I make planters out of old rusty cans which I save for this purpose, burn in a bonfire to take off any factory finish such as paint or varnish, and then attach them to a piece of salvaged dimension lumber, wire on a twig handle, and plant them with Sedum and other Drought Smart Plants. Look at these weathering and distressing techniques and find out how to make metal look old on the sister site, Blue Fox Farm.
Discarded satellite dishes are ideal as shallow planters for Jovibarba and Sempervivum hens and chicks plants, sometimes stacking them like a three tiered fountain, dripping with Sedum instead of water.
I use a spring from a screen door to hold the door of the greenhouse closed. Due to settling the door doesn’t latch properly and if there’s a strong wind, the door will blow open.
I use lots of spring hooks around the place, to keep the door or window open or closed until I’m ready to change its status.
I always keep my eyes open for stuff other people see no use for – the junk, refuse, trash and garbage. If I see things that others don’t see the potential of, I quietly go about getting possession of it.
I never steal, as most of these items are seen as useless, so asking usually works well, and now I even have other people on the look out for strange salvage for me to work my magic on.
But just wait - I’ll make something out of that, don’t throw it away!