JoAnne Skelly: Creative reuse in the garden

Use an old face mask as a cradle for a spaghetti squash on a fence.

Use an old face mask as a cradle for a spaghetti squash on a fence.

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My friend Millie has inspired me in the past with her celery bottom and sweet potato plantings, but now her husband Mike has a real winner of a reuse idea.
His response to “reduce, reuse and recycle” is to use an old face mask as a cradle for a spaghetti squash on a fence. What a great idea! Think of all the little cantaloupes, squashes or even big tomatoes that could have their own little hammock for support. Way to go Mike! I asked Millie what other reuse/recycle ideas they have come up with. One example is that their use of old pallets as trellises for their pole beans.
There are many creative ways to repurpose items in a yard or garden. We’ve all seen old toilets planted with flowers. Planting old wheelbarrows or old bicycles is popular. Another idea I like is to plant colorful mismatched rain boots with flowers and hang them on a fence. I could plant my old hiking boots and set them by the front door to remind me of all the places we’ve been together! Some gardeners plant tires with potatoes. How about digging out the interior of an old stump and planting it with something? Old chairs can be painted multiple colors and the seats cut out to hold potted gardens. Planting an old bird cage puts it to a good second use. Old aquariums are great for terrariums.
Cut the side out of a liter bottle and fill it with draping succulents, then hang it for a different looking planter. An old ladder makes a nice plant stand. I saw a picture online of an old dresser where each drawer was planted.
I’ve seen wine bottles stuck upside down on a multi-armed metal pole as garden art. One gardener I knew placed an old iron bedstead in her yard as a decoration.
Pallets have long made good sides for compost bins. Rounds of tree trunks work as stepping stones and last a long time if they don’t get wet too often. Old pantyhose (does anybody even have these anymore?) can be cut up for plant ties, tree wraps or as fruit or vegetable cradles as Mike did with his mask. Sheer curtains work well to protect veggies from sun, wind and insects.
Reuse possibilities are limited only by our imagination. If you need a little help search “imaginative reuse of materials in garden” for dozens of great ideas.
JoAnne Skelly is associate professor & extension educator emerita of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at


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