The plants and flowers in your garden are only the surface of the overall look. They cannot have character without structure – beds to lie in, containers to spill over, bricks and stones to offset them, and a collection of items to provide interest, height, or focal points. What you choose for this last category depends on your style. If you like a less-than-traditional, whimsical look, then found items are a must.
Using found items takes a little more time than stopping by your local gardening center and choosing traditional items like plant stands and trellises. But the search is so much more fun.
Start looking at home
Before you go hunting for others’ discarded junk, why not free up some of your own storage space? Dig through your attic, garage, and storage sheds. Look through your kitchen cupboards and closets. Search for items you will not use again that would hold up well in the elements. A worn pair of gardening boots would serve well as planters in the garden – a fitting end to their employment.
Choose items based on shape, texture, and color
Your found items should enhance your garden and stand out a little. An old wooden ladder, for instance, can serve as a plant stand in a spot where you need a little visual height. A pink or mustard cast iron bath tub provides a splash of color and will blend in to the landscape with proper placement and a few cascading plants.
Flea markets, yard sales and thrift stores are familiar territory for folks looking for bargains. Visit antique stores, estate sales, and auctions both actual and virtual. Sometimes you can find a few gems discarded on the sidewalk in exclusive neighborhoods. Check your phone book for salvage companies for homes.
Sure, you are doing the earth a favor by repurposing something that was headed to a landfill. But be forewarned: It’s easy to go overboard when you start collecting old treasures. As you hunt, keep a lonely space in your garden in mind. Measure it first if necessary.
Drill or fill for drainage
With an electric drill you can turn just about any vessel into a planter. You will need different bits depending on whether you are drilling wood, metal or stone. If you don’t trust your own expertise, take the container to your hardware store, and they should be able to help you.
Planting in pots with no drainage is a no-no, but it would be a greater shame to put a hole in that antique teapot. Some materials are easily damaged by drilling, like ceramic, porcelain and enamel-covered cast iron. If you must plant something in there, fill the bottom of your container with a dense layer of pebbles or gravel, burying a plastic flexible tube into it that curls over the lip of the container and to the ground. After you fill your flowerpot with soil, the tube will act as a siphon to draw off water from the bottom.
Even the most traditional gardens improve with the addition of a carefully chosen and placed found item. When you are done, you can give yourself a well-deserving pat on the back. Using found items that otherwise would only be tossed into the landfill is a very green act. And, besides, now you have a garden that has your own mark of creativity and style.