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We’ve all heard the term “Reduce Reuse Recycle” and there is no better opportunity to put this 3-word phrase into action than gardening.

From reusing organic materials and quirky objects to reducing non-organic additives and trash, you can help your garden and the environment by using one or several of the following ideas.


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Reduce the amount of garbage that is hauled away by the weekly disposal service while using some of your trash to improve your garden.

Kitchen scraps can be added to a wormery or compost pile to create valuable soil and compost. Newspapers, cardboard boxes, and other paper products can be shredded and added to the compost bins or laid down in whole underneath mulch for natural weed control.

Reduce the amount of packaging you bring to your garden by using dirt and compost you created yourself. The byproduct of the home compost heap is better than any commercial fertilizer.

Reduce the amount of rainwater run-off your yard produces by creating rain gardens in low-lying areas and around driveways. Build patios, sidewalks, and driveways with material that allows rain to escape under them rather than runoff. Capture water from your roof in a rain barrel for later use.


Reuse some of your household trash in quirky ways. Have an old chair that is falling apart? Turn it into a plant holder in your garden. Broken baskets and pottery can serve the same purpose. Newspapers and other paper products provide excellent weed control when covered with mulch.

Reuse your worn-out garden equipment as well. That leaky hose can be turned into an edger, a soaker hose, or cut up and used to soften the handles of buckets, clippers, and brooms. The wheelbarrow with a broken wheel and rusted out bottom can be turned on its side and used for a whimsical flower bed.

Your child’s old toy wagon can have a second life as a garden tool to haul heavy buckets of compost or crates of flower starts around your yard.

You can even reuse a leaky bathtub or hot tub! Buried, lined and landscaped they make excellent garden ponds. Nobody will ever know what they actually were unless you tell them.

Reuse rainwater by capturing it from your downspout into a rain barrel. You will never have to turn on the outside faucet to water your garden again.

Perhaps you can’t reuse items, but someone else can. Post unwanted garden items for free on Craigslist, FreeCycle or another local website. You might be surprised how quickly someone snaps it up.


Composting is the ultimate method of recycling both garden clippings and kitchen scraps. It recycles throw-away items into rich soil perfect for your gardening needs.

If you do find yourself with packaging or old garden items that you no longer need and can find no other use for, take them to a local recycling center rather than filling your garbage with them. Even items like broken bricks can be turned into useful materials.

With some extra effort and creative thinking, you can reduce the amount of trash you send to landfills, save some money on garden items and improve the overall health and appearance of your garden by practicing the ideas of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” in your garden.

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