recycling the garden, part two, the hard stuff

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In the last post I described some of the things you can do with plants materials. Here I talk about how we’ve used the ‘hard’ stuff, by which mean rocks, rubble and timber that you often find hiding away in a new plot.



You’ll probably come across rocks somewhere in the garden. If you can’t think of what to do with them, try these:

  • Small flat rocks can be used as paths through flowerbeds or across lawns. Our boys love to follow the paths amongst the flowers, and use the ones in the lawn to jump between
  • Use large rocks as edging for a pond, especially if you have smaller kids as it makes a nice barrier
  • Rocks can also be used to edge beds
  • Use them in the same way as the logs to let the kids explore. They’ll pick them up looking for bugs and stack them in other parts of the garden

If they’re ‘rubble’ and not nice looking rocks, consider using them as hardcore beneath paths and patios.


Smaller stones and gravel

There’s no need to lug bags of gravel to the tip unless you really want to.

  • Use them for drainage in large pots, raised beds or planting holes
  • If you have lots they can be used for paths
  • Make bug houses with them by filling containers and placing them towards the backs of beds
  • Use them along with the rubble as hardcore beneath paths and patios



Bricks are really useful to have around the garden, even if you just store them an use them when you need them (ours are stacked in the alley by the house and are used by all kinds of insects). Other ideas include:

  • Use them to stand pots on, useful when you’re trying to get a display of pots at different heights
  • Put them under slabs to create steps if you need them – our back door steps are just slabs and bricks
  • Break them up to use as hardcore

Failing that, ask around. People often want them.



Old slabs are pretty common in run down gardens. While they’re often broken and may not be the type you’d like to make a patio with, they can still be used.

  • Make steps, propped up with bricks
  • Use them around ‘out of sight’ areas like composters or bins where you still want a solid floor but are not fussy about the look
  • Use them as hardcore under patios



If you’re lucky enough to find a load of old slate, keep hold of it. Like bricks it can be really useful to have around.

  • Make slate stacks for bugs to live in
  • Use small pieces for levelling out pot, especially good if you’ve used stone, bricks and slabs to make things
  • Use around ponds
  • Make a drawing areas by attaching them to a log or fence



Depending on the quality and type of timber you find, lots of things can be done. There are whole pages dedicated to pallet recycling.

  • Use it in construction – fences, summerhouses, sheds and stores
  • Use it for edging or steps
  • Make raised beds
  • Burn unusable pieces and used the potash as fertiliser, or if they’re untreated cut them up and use them in logpiles or insect hotels


Drainpipes, sinks and buckets

Depending on what these are made of, we’ve used ours in the following ways:

  • Sinks, buckets and upturned drainpipes as planters
  • Drainpipes filled with chopped up canes as bee houses
  • Metal drainpipes as percussion for the boys to hit
  • Drainpipes linked together for water play
  • Receptacles for making fertiliser

There are lots more ideas on line for things you can use in the garden. Check out this great blog

Sheet metal

Recently we’ve been adding old metal around the pond, hoping to attract newts and slow worms who like the heat. It’s been mixed in with branches and slate to soften the look a bit. Fingers crossed.


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