5 Gardening Projects Made From Recycled Household Items

5 Gardening Projects Made From Recycled Household Items

Nov 30, 2023nate

Did you know that the average American products 1704 pounds of garbage per year? Sad, but true. In an effort to keep more of our trash out of landfill, we’ve come up with 5 Eco-Friendly Gardening Projects that use recycled household items. #reduce #re-use and #recycle!

Window Farm

The Window Farm (pictured in the cover-image of this blog) is a functional, space-efficient way to build a vertical garden inside your apartment. It can also be built using a bunch of recycled and repurposed household items The idea is pretty simple – just cut the bottom off a plastic bottle, drill a hole in the lid, then turn it upside down and fill it with a growing medium such as clay pebbles and peat moss or rock wool. 

One of the most popular ways to irrigate a Window Farm is to use an air pump to lift water up a vertical tube. This does work ok (and is the method we used when we built our own) but the bottles do create a fair bit of noise and if you use a clear air tube it won’t take long for it to be lined with green algae. We recommend this online resource for more tips and guides on making your own Window Farm. 

Recycle these household items for this project:

  • Plastic soda or drink bottles
  • 4L / 1 Gallon+ tubs of protein powder and other supplements that come in big tubs make a good reservoir for a Window Farm
  • At your local bakery or supermarket ask if they have any leftover plastic tubs. They’re often used for icing. These will also make a good reservoir. 
  • Coat hangers – old coat hangers are great for making the hooks you’ll need to attach the bottles to the vertical chain or rope that holds everything together. Just use a pair of pliers to bend them into ‘S’ shaped hooks. 

Bottle Garden (Top Down)

Similar to our own bottle gardens, but with a twist. The DIY version of this setup involves cutting a plastic bottom in half, inverting the top piece, then adding some sort of wicking material between the two. For the growing medium up top, you can either use soil (no additional nutrients required) or something like clay pebbles (you’ll need to add hydroponic nutrients such as these). When it comes to the bottle, plastic is going to be easiest to work with as you can cut it with a knife or scissors. It’s also possible to DIY the glass option, but if you’re going to do that we recommend getting a glass cutter like this one. Be warned it takes a little practice to get right, so practice a few times first before tackling your favorite bottle!

Recycle these household items for this project:

  • Either plastic or glass bottle, cut in half
  • Rope or fabric for the ‘wick’ between the two


Ok so this one might look obvious, but there’s actually a big difference between doing this well and doing it poorly. The WRONG way to do this is just empty out a can, fill it with soil, and stick your plant it. The problem with that approach is that you’re likely to get a build up of water in the bottom of the can over time. Eventually, that’s likely to cause root rot and kill the plant.

A better approach is to make sure that the plant has some form of drainage, and there are two ways to do that:

  1. Cut holes in the bottom. Using a can opener punch 3 or 4 holes in the bottom of the can to allow any built up water to drain out the bottom. This will work fine if you have the cans situated on a saucer or somewhere outside, but it’s less suitable if you have them inside.
  2. The other approach you can take is to include drainage inside the can. To do this you will need a) some charcoal – to absorb water – this should go in first,  and b) a layer of small stones or river pebbles – this creates a free draining layer that prevents water build up in the soil. This approach avoids a mess on the window sill too of course 

Recycle these household items for this project:

  • Most former fruit, vegetable or bean-containing cans will work fine here, but our favorite is probably the old-school style tomato-sauce cans. They just look so cool with a basil plant growing out of them. Just make sure it’s thoroughly rinsed before you set things up,


Take-Out Containers

There are SO many things you can do with plastic take out containers for the garden. This material is usually rigid, waterproof and often transparent, so it’s great for lots of DIY projects.

Perhaps the most effective way to recycle these containers is to use them for seeds starting. The lid will trap moisture inside the container creating a humid environment that sprouts love. If you’re going to use expanding soil discs, just make sure you have enough room for both the disc to expand and the seedling to sprout out the top. Once the seeds have sprouted, and are a ½” or so tall, you can probably remove the lid, and then just rely on the tray to serve as a drip catcher or even reservoir. If you leave ~½” water in the bottom the soil starting discs will be able to suck this up from the tray and deliver it to the seedling, which means you have to water less often.

Recycle these household items for this project:

  • Plastic take-out containers – often with clear lid and clear or black bottom part
  • Plastic food containers from supermarket – you sometimes get these with lettuce or greens in them, maybe bakery items too.


Bottle Garden (Top-Up)

Perhaps you’ve seen this one before? Ok – we’ll spare you the details. But check out this blog for an explanation of how bottle gardening works. 

Recycle these household items for this project:

  • We recommend either dark green or brown bottles for this project, as this will filter out some of the algae-causing frequencies of light and keep the water cleaner.
  • 16 – 32oz (0.5 – 1L) is the right size range. Red wine bottles work great


Hope one of these ideas has inspired you to have a go at your own DIY gardening project using recycled materials. If you’re ready to get started, use code RECYCLE to enjoy 10% off any of our bottle garden kits today.

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