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10 Upcycling Projects for the Yard and Garden

Read this before throwing away old hoses and wine bottles

Painted tire planters, Yeager: Upcycling


Upcycling and re-purposing could be the best budget friendly way to turn ready-to-pitch items into decor.

En español | "Upcycling" — transforming unwanted items into something new and useful or decorative — is a fun and increasingly popular hobby. Here are some simple DIY upcycling projects specifically for the good old summertime. You can check out the photos on my Pinterest board.

Heavy-Duty Hose Holder

Store garden hoses neatly and keep them tangle-free with a sturdy wall-mounted hose holder made out of an old auto wheel rim and attractively painted with a garden theme. Mount the rim to the wall using lag screws with washers, inserted through the lug-nut holes.

Portable Potting Table

The heating element in a gas grill usually gives out long before the rest of the appliance. When that happens, remove the defunct "guts" from inside the grill, plug any holes in the bottom, and fill it with potting soil. Voilà! A portable potting bench — one that will keep the soil dry and has plenty of storage space for pots and gardening tools.

Wine Lover's Garden Border

If your hobbies include gardening and drinking wine, this is the perfect upcycling project for you. Bury the necks of empty wine bottles directly in the soil to create a conversation-starting border between garden beds and the lawn. I'll drink to that!

Kitchen Garden Kitsch

You can upcycle just about anything, including the kitchen sink. A garden planter made out of a sink is perfect for growing kitchen herbs, and if the dishes peeking out of the top are chipped or broken, you can cleverly bury them to hide their blemishes.

See also: 8 Ways to save on home improvement

Boot Birdhouse

Unusual birdhouses and bird feeders can be fashioned from all types of throwaway items, from an old teapot to a plastic soda bottle. Even a worn-out work boot can be simply fastened to a board with screws to make a comfy nesting spot for feathered friends.

Garden Swing

If you have an old chair with a broken leg or two, remove the legs entirely and make a simple swing. Tied to a sturdy tree branch, it's the adult version of the classic tire swing!

Tire Planters

As seen in the photo above, old car tires, which can be a hassle and expense to dispose of, take on a new life as planters for flowers and other nonedible plants when colorfully planted. Use an oil or shellac primer, and then apply a high-quality acrylic exterior paint.

Simple Patio

Candles Spare "building bricks" (those with holes in them) make a handy and attractive holder for candles on the patio and other outdoor spaces. The bottoms of the holes can be plugged with masonry patch cement, available premixed, in small quantities, at home-improvement stores.

Package Pallet Outdoor Furniture 

Wooden packing pallets are a blank canvas for upcyclers, with hundreds of clever projects for repurposing them featured on websites like Pinterest. Many businesses give away their spare pallets, but be forewarned: The wood can be very hard and sometimes difficult to work with.

Garden Hose

Outdoor Rug Leaky garden hoses can be coiled and fastened together with zip ties to make a durable, all-weather mat like this to use outside or in a mudroom. Using a similar technique, you can also fashion old hoses into baskets that can be used as planters for container gardening.

Washing Machine Fire Pit

The steel drum from inside a defunct washing machine makes a great backyard fire pit for the family to gather around on a summer's night. You can find videos and DIY instructions online on how to remove and adapt the washer drum.

Ladder Garden

If you don't have a lot of space, consider planting a vertical garden — one that grows upward, not outward. An old ladder, for instance, can be modified to create planting shelves that can yield an ample harvest in a compact space.

Jeff Yeager is the author of Don't Throw That Away!, The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches and The Cheapskate Next Door. His website is; you can friend him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.