Gardening | 12 July 2017Stay Green with Upcycling Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Bring your garden to life with three easy upcycling DIY projects that repurpose simple materials into flourishing green spaces and support the pollinators who rely on—and nurture–your garden. Shade Pallet Garden from Grow a Living Wall Once you notice a repurposed pallet, you start seeing them everywhere, and for good reason: they’re inexpensive (sometimes free), easy to find, and lend themselves to easy DIY projects. This particular pallet garden is perfect for a shady wall or fence and adds a pop of vertical color to any small space. Read on from Grow a Living Wall for upcycling how-to instructions and suggestions for shade-loving plants. Shade-Loving Plants Perfect for Your Pallet Garden Begonia, ‘Gryphon’ Coleus, ‘Kong’ New Guinea Impatiens Spider plant Sweet potato vine, ‘Blackie’ Tools and Materials You’ll Need 2 clean pallets Landscape fabric or burlap Heavy-duty staple gun Staples Gloves Bricks or landscaping stone Level Screws and drill/driver Zip ties Potting soil Plants Trowel How to Make a Pallet Garden In this project, we are planting two pallets side by side to give the fairy garden in the foreground a rich, green backdrop. While it is possible to connect the two pallets, it will not enhance their stability. Therefore, treat each pallet as a separate component to the garden. Should you want to sand or paint the pallets with environmentally friendly paint, do so before you start this build. Lay the two pallets on the ground, wearing gloves to prevent splinters. Roll landscape fabric over the backside of the pallet. With your pallets on a flat surface, roll landscape fabric over the back face that will be positioned against the wall. Staple the landscape fabric to the pallet, spacing staples about 3 inches apart, wrapping around the sides and stapling securely. Create pockets on the front of the pallet by stapling landscape fabric in the voids behind the front pallet boards. The pockets should hang down a few inches to create room for soil. Staple black landscape fabric or burlap firmly over the backside of the pallet so soil will not escape. Drive heavy-duty staples evenly across the pallet, approximately every 3 inches, to support the soil and plants. Wrap the fabric around the sides of the pallet and staple it down securely. Trim off any excess so the fabric doesn’t stick out in front. Using the fabric and staples, build pockets that are around 4 to 6 inches deep to hold soil and plants. Judge creatively where the plants should go on the pallets—it is different for every pallet as each pallet is shaped slightly different, but your focus should be to keep the pockets evenly spaced. Do not worry if the black fabric hangs below the pallet wood; it is supposed to in order to have an appropriate amount of soil with which to plant your garden. Once your plants begin to fill in, the black fabric will not be as noticeable. Try to stretch and staple the fabric in a way that will prevent soil from leaking out the sides and front. When the inside of the pallet is unreachable with the staple gun, simply staple the black fabric on the edges of the pallet wood. Even stapling means there will be no soil leakage. Create a level base for the pallets using extra landscape blocks or other materials that can withstand ground contact. Secure the pallets to the fence or wall. Use old bricks or landscaping blocks to build a flat, even foundation for the pallets. Recycled landscaping timbers or old concrete sidewalk pieces will also work. Use a level to check the placement of the pallet. Place the pallets on top of your bricks or blocks. Secure the midsection of the pallets to the fence behind it by using zip ties or by screwing them into the wall or fence. Zip ties should be wrapped around the main frame to be secured firmly. To hang the pallet on the wall, predrill holes and screw the pallet directly into the wall or fence. This project will be too heavy to hang off masonry or lightweight wall board, so this technique is recommended for heavy-duty fencing or wooden walls. Fill the pockets with potting soil. Plant the pallets, grouping plants tightly so they fill in visually as soon as possible. Purchase plants for your pallet garden. This garden is located in the shade, so I used shade plants that would perform well in lower light conditions. Fill the pallet pockets with potting soil using your trowel. Begin placing plants into the pockets you have created. Plants should be placed snugly for a fuller look as they begin to grow and fill out. Water well and fertilize with organic fertilizer when needed. Maintenance for the pallet garden is simply regular watering and organic fertilizer throughout the season with a clean-out and replant in the spring. Upcycled Suitcase Planter with Gas Pipe Legs from Raised Bed Revolution One of the many beauties of upcycling is its flexibility: this project was made with a repurposed suitcase and pipe legs, but it could easily be made with a dresser drawer and legs of PVS pipe, for example. Another appealing attribute is this project’s relatively low dependence on tools, and as author Tara Nolan points out in Raised Bed Revolution, this planter could double as ornamental indoor décor as well as a garden fixture. Tools You’ll Need Screwdriver, power drill or impact driver Tape measure Old rag to handle gas pipe parts Eye protection Work gloves Materials You’ll Need For the top: Shallow wooden box (we used an old suitcase about 24 1?4 × 17 3?4 × 5 5?8″) For the legs: ½” threaded black gas pipe (this is the pipe that’s generally used to transport natural or propane gas from the street to a house) was used for this project. You could use a different width for a chunkier look, depending on the aesthetic you want. (4) floor/wall flanges (4) end caps (for the feet) 6 ½” tee fittings 1 ½” union (middle) (4) 24″ pieces pipe threaded on each end (6) 6″ pieces threaded pipe (also called pipe nipples) (4) 3 ½” pieces threaded pipe (also called pipe nipples) (16) screws (length depends on the thickness of the wood; we used #10 × ½” but could use longer if you have thicker wood) Note: You may choose to use a bigger or smaller box. With different dimensions, you may choose to use different pipe lengths and diameters. How to Make an Upcycled Suitcase Planter with Gas Pipe Legs PREP THE BOX. Prepare the box that will rest on top of the gas pipe legs. Here, the top of the suitcase was removed simply by unscrewing part of the hinge. The hinges were left on the actual box as decoration. DRILL DRAINAGE HOLES. Add holes to the bottom of your box. Lay it aside for now. ASSEMBLE ALL PIPE PIECES. Have a rag close at hand as you put the gas pipe parts together; they can be quite greasy. Screw one flange into one end of each 24-inch pipe. On the other end, add a tee fitting. To continue the leg, add one 6-inch pipe to the opposite end of the tee. To the end of that, screw on the end cap. To the perpendicular end of the tee, add a 3 ½-inch threaded pipe. Repeat for the three other legs. Use a tee to connect each set of end legs. Your project should now be in two pieces. Attach the two sets of end legs by screwing the 6-inch pieces of pipe to the middle tees of the two leg sets so they’ll be parallel to the ground. Attach them with one union. It will take a bit of maneuvering to twist everything so it’s just so and the feet rest on the ground evenly. DETERMINE THE PERFECT LEG PLACEMENT ON THE BOX. Set the whole leg construction with the flanges touching the box, and measure where they will go so you can screw them in place. ASSEMBLE THE TOP AND BOTTOM. Attach the flanges to the box with screws. When you turn it back over, the box can be leveled by twisting various sections of pipe as needed to make it longer or shorter. Line the box with landscape fabric; fill with soil to prepare it for planting. FINISHING THE LEGS. When left outdoors, the gas pipe legs will develop a natural rust-colored patina. Be careful where you place the new raised bed, however, because you don’t want the rust to leach onto the surface. To protect the gas pipe legs from rusting, apply a couple of coats of tung oil (a food-grade oil) with a brush or a rag, wiping it off between coats. You could also use a rustproof spray paint—either a clear coat or a vibrant color. Build a Home for Mason Bees from 101 Organic Gardening Hacks Supporting pollinators means considering what they need, and for Mason bees—which are especially proactive pollinators—this often means building housing, or nesting boxes, for them. Thanks to 101 Organic Gardening Hacks, this is an easy upcycling DIY project. Place a mason bee housing near a patio so you can watch these gentle creatures coming and going throughout the day on their pollinating adventures. Native bees in the United States have had significant population losses, but are holding out as a bit heartier than honey bees. They have an independent, non-social nature, and they do not make commercial honey. But you should get to know mason bees. They are a gentle, nest-building native bees that do not sting and are amazing pollinators. There are around 140 species of mason bee that live in North America. Typically, mason bees are active for 8 to 10 weeks in the spring, then go dormant and hibernate for 10 months until their next pollinating adventure. If your garden does not have enough pollen and nectar for mason bees, they will move on. Planting a diverse, blooming, 300-foot circle of spring-flowering plants around a mason bee house will help the bees survive and stay in your garden. Native plants are the best for native bees, according to The Xerces Society. Mason bees will emerge about the time the redbud trees bloom in your region, with populations at all-time highs during apple-blossom season. One bee can pollinate more than 1,500 blossoms per day, which makes these bees vital in orchards. Plant your gardens with no chemical fertilizers or pesticides to encourage the health of all bees, and grow early flowering plants and shrubs such as forsythia, crocus, primrose, snowdrops, Lenten rose, and pulmonaria to feed them. To extend their season by a few weeks and encourage the bees to hang on a little longer, plant sweet-scented roses, forget-me-nots, cranesbill geranium, borage, comfrey, sweetpea, penstemon, salvia, and allium. Also provide mud for your bees so they can use it to build their homes— purchase it online, or simply fill a tub or trench with muddy soil for the bees. Mason bee houses are easy to find. They consist of a collection of long empty tubes or reeds surrounded by some sort of housing. The bees live in the tubes. You can make your own nesting boxes by drilling 20 or 30 holes in a non-treated block of wood. Use a very sharp drill bit so there are no splinters, and drill 5/16-inch holes, 6 inches deep in the block. Mount your nesting house at least 3 feet above the ground, tight to a fence, tree, or building protected from rain, and with full warm sun in the morning. Remove the wooden block houses every two years and retire them in order to protect the bees from possible disease problems. Raised Bed Revolution Raised bed gardening is the fastest-growing garden strategy today, and Raised Bed Revolution is its ultimate guidebook. The book includes information about size requirements for constructing raised beds, height suggestions, types of materials you can use, and creative tips for fitting the maximum garden capacity into small spaces–including vertical gardening. Enhanced with gorgeous photography, this book covers subjects such as growing-medium options, rooftop gardening, cost-effective gardening solutions, planting tips, watering strategies (automatic water drip systems and hand watering), and more. The process of creating and building raised beds is a cinch, too, thanks to the extensive gallery of design ideas and step-by-step projects. This gardening strategy is taking serious root. Why? Several reasons: Raised beds allow gardeners to practice space efficiency as well as accessibility (the beds can be customized to be any height). Raised beds permit gardeners to use their own soil, and they can be designed with wheels for easy portability if partial sunlight is a problem. Water conservation is easier for gardeners who use raised beds. Pest control is assisted because most garden pests can’t make the leap up into the raised bed. For yards that struggle with drainage, raised bed gardening offers a no-brainer solution. Raised beds simply create a more interesting yard! Find out more about why everyone is joining the raised bed revolution. You can roll up your sleeves and join it, too! Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: AU: 101 Organic Gardening Hacks Create simple solutions for growing organic gardens! The word “hack” has a multitude of meanings these days, but if you ask garden author Shawna Coronado what a hack is, she might just wave her hand toward her own back yard. She could be pointing at the garden bench she created from leftover wood posts and a few cinder blocks, or the rows of wine bottles buried soldier-style along a winding pathway, or even the garden soil itself, which is blended by hand from an organic soil recipe she devised. A hack is really just a great idea that’s come to life. In 101 Organic Garden Hacks you’ll find the top tips, tricks, and solutions Shawna has dreamed up in her career as one of America’s most creative gardeners. Some are practical timesavers; others offer clever ways to “upcycle” everyday items in your garden. One characteristic every hack shares is that they are completely organic and unfailingly environmentally friendly. Divided into a dozen different categories for easy reference, each hack is accompanied by a clear photo that shows you exactly how to complete it. If you are looking for resourceful ways to improve your garden and promote green living values right at home, you’ll love paging through this fascinating, eye-catching book. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: AU: Grow a Living Wall Sometimes called “Green Walls” or “Vertical Gardens,” living walls are easier than ever to plan and grow! Grow a Living Wall is the first wall-gardening book to focus exclusively on the needs of home gardeners. Make your vertical garden environmentally friendly and sustainable. It’s easy with author Shawna Coronado’s help! One of her themed vertical gardens is stocked mostly with flowers to make it a haven for bees and other pollinators. Other gardens are filled with vegetables and herbs so anyone with an outdoor wall can grow their own food – beautifully! Even more gardens promote aromatherapy or medicinal plants. Some are designed to provide a green net of air filtration near a living area, or to protect exterior walls from exposure to direct sunlight, which helps to keep the indoors cool. In addition to the comprehensive, step-by-step information that explains the basics of vertical gardening, each of the 20 featured gardens has its own chapter filled with useful tips, stunning photography, and fascinating background stories that point out how much difference a small garden can make. Like author Shawna herself, the gardens you’ll find in Grow a Living Wall are positive, life affirming, and sure to produce a smile or two. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: AU: Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.