Gardening is generally considered an eco-friendly act, yet gardeners buy all kinds of things: seed-starting trays, trellises, planters, tools. Rather than buying these items new, many of them can be found lying around their house. For example, it isn’t uncommon for a household to have empty food containers ready to be tossed away, just as it isn’t unusual for worn-out kitchenware and furniture to be thrown out and replaced. From starting seeds indoors to preserving your harvest, you can renew the life of these items while adding a touch of creativity to your garden while at the same time keeping them out of the dump.

Reuse containers for starting seeds indoors – Yogourt containers, egg cartons, and plastic and Styrofoam disposable cups all can be used for starting your seeds. Just wash them out, drill or cut holes in the bottoms, top up with your potting mix and plant your seeds. Place your seedlings in a sunny window, keep them watered and watch them to grow.

Grow plants in old kitchenware – Kitchen items such as tea kettles, colanders, pots and bowls that you’re ready to throw out can be given a new lease on life as planters in your garden. Colanders, for example, are an option for growing lettuce and they already have holes that allow excess water to escape. Similarly, it’s possible to drill holes in the bottom of other kitchenware for proper drainage.


Use a dresser as a planter – If you’re thinking of getting rid of an old dresser, consider saving the drawers, or even the whole dresser, for your planting purposes. Grow shallow-rooted vegetables, herbs and flowers in the dresser for a unique and eco-friendly alternative to traditional planters.

Create a tin-can garden – Save your soup and vegetable cans for a tin-can garden. Growing herbs or flowers in them can create a decorative look out of seemingly mundane cans.


Preserve your harvest in ice-cream containers – Use freezer-friendly plastic containers such as ice-cream containers for preserving summer-harvest goods such as tomatoes and strawberries, allowing for a taste of summer in the middle of winter.

Refurbish an old swing set for climbing vegetable plants – If your kids have outgrown the swing set, rather than disposing of it you can turn it into a swing-set trellis for climbing vegetable plants, such as peas, pole beans and cucumbers. Refurbish the swing set by tying wire lines onto it that will allow the plants to climb.


Use torn pantyhose to tie up your drooping tomato plants – At some point in the season, tomato plants begin to droop under the heavy weight of their fruit, and gardeners need to tie the branches up to prevent the fruit from touching the ground and getting damaged. Old pantyhose is gentle enough on tomato plants that you won’t easily break the branches, all the while reusing an item that would otherwise have ended up in the garbage.

Turn old shoes into planters – Instead of tossing old shoes away, reuse them as decorative planters for your yard. You can use them to grow herbs, or even pretty annual flowers.

images: Charmers, Universal Pops, cheryle64, Becky Striepe (CC BY-SA)