Turning Trash Into Gardening Greatness

OSU Extension shares how to turn unused items into delightful planters

By upcycling unused items around the home, gardeners can prove the cliché that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure while keeping those materials out of landfills and creating whimsical, decorative features.

It’s a sure bet that nearly any gardener can find some really interesting things that can be repurposed into unique garden planters, said Keith Reed, Oklahoma State University Extension horticulture educator  However, such a project does require consideration.

“A lot of ideas you may see online, such as using an old wagon or the bed of a child’s old dump truck as a planter, may look cute, but may not be very practical, especially in Oklahoma’s extreme summer heat,” Reed said. “You must keep in mind soil volume and temperature inside the planter. It may look cute in the garden, but the plants likely won’t survive our summers without extraordinary attention to watering and plant selection.”

A good suggestion in the succulent family is the plant often referred to as hens and chicks, which has amazing tolerance for poor soils. In the same group is portulaca, which will add a lot of color to the landscape. Most plants need at least 4 inches to 6 inches of soil depth.

Casey Hentges, OSU Extension assistant specialist and host of the popular gardening program Oklahoma Gardening, said no matter what type of planters you have, make sure they have plenty of drainage holes already or drill some yourself.

“Proper drainage is so important for good plant health. Plants that become waterlogged likely will experience root rot,” Hentges said. “When planting multiple plants in the same container, make sure they have similar moisture and sun requirements for optimum growth.”

Imagination is the only limiting factor when it comes to upcycling, said David Hillock, OSU Extension consumer horticulturist.

“Are you tired of fighting with that old hand-me-down dresser that the drawers don’t close right? Take the drawers, drill a few holes, fill them with soil and start planting,” he said. “Spray paint some old coffee containers or upcycle the removeable part of that old crockpot that quit working.”

Other upcycled container ideas, depending on the space and the look gardeners are going for, include old rain boots, baskets, painted tires, bird cage, bathtub, wheelbarrow, tacklebox – basically anything that will hold several inches of potting soil and has drainage holes.

OSU Extension offers more gardening information online at extension.okstate.edu.

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