"There are many ways that recycled plastics and other materials can make your garden greener," said Joyce F. Gagnon, a specialist in using recycled products in landscaping and gardening applications. "Recycled plastic lumber and recycled plastic pipe are just two of the recycled-content products gardeners and landscapers can use in their gardens."
As a former marketing specialist for the King County Commission for Marketing Recyclable Materials in Seattle, Gagnon spent the last five years working closely with landscape architects and designers to help them incorporate recycled products and materials in their gardens and designs. She was the project manager for three award-winning gardens at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, the third largest show in the country.
Gagnon now has her own consulting firm in Seattle, marketing INCognito, and offers these 10 tips for making gardens greener.
1) Facilitate deep root growth and watering by staking recycled plastic piping deep into the ground near plants. Leave some of the recycled plastic piping exposed and fill it with water.
2) Amend and revitalize your topsoil with compost, that adds nutrients to tired, worn out soil and retains moisture better than unamended soil.
3) Create raised flower beds from recycled plastic lumber. Unlike treated lumber, recycled plastic lumber will not decay from contact with water and wet soil, and doesn't have to be stained or treated.
4) Reuse polystyrene peanuts by mixing them with potting soil for the larger vessels in your urban or rooftop container gardens. The polystyrene creates pore spaces for water and air to flow more readily into your plants and lightens the weight of the container, making it easier to move.
5) Use tiles made from recycled glass to accent a garden patio floor with a splash of color.
6) Substitute recycled plastic plant and tree stakes for wooden stakes. The recycled plastic stakes are as functional as wooden ones and resist decay.
7) Use edging material to create and maintain clean lines in your garden beds and walkways. Recycled plastic edging is easily bent to form curves.
8) Combine broken concrete, old bricks, composite lumber scraps and natural stone to form walls with texture and character around the garden.
9) Plan outdoor seating within a garden to offer a reprieve for the gardener and guests, as well as, a better viewing point for the surrounding landscape. Benches and lawn furniture made from recycled plastic lumber can withstand impact better than those made of wood and resist mold, mildew or damage from animals or insects.
10) Feel free to experiment! Vary the textures, colors and height throughout the garden, whether with plantings, furnishings or decorative objects. Try something new this year.