Economic Gardening - Discover Ways to Save Money with Garden Landscape Designs
Saving Money with Economic Gardening Ideas
It is amazing what you can find in builder's yards - all sorts of construction materials that can be used for unusual containers: hollow concrete blocks, sections of drain-pipe and, indeed, many plumbing and draining components, some of them in most attractive glazed stone, or plastic and metal water-tanks, of course, which are particularly useful for larger plants and pools; sturdy builder's buckets which are often to be found 'on offer'; plus a host of other possibilities.
Often there are cracked or broken things lying around in odd corners and, if you ask nicely, they could be yours for little or nothing. They can usually be mended with something like Unibond, and the joins hidden by a cunning bit of positioning or planting.
Of course, if you're looking for a bargain and have an eye for economic gardening techniques, you might pick up any of these things on skips or demolition sites, while, if you're on friendly terms with your plumber. He might find some odds and ends for you and even a discarded sink or two, which you could leave as they are, paint, or cover with a mock hypertufa mixture. To do this, wash the sink thoroughly with a strong detergent and hot water. Scour the surface and apply a coat of Unibond. Then mix up sand, cement and peat (1:1:2) and mix with a little water to a strong, smooth sludge. Trowel this over the prepared sink to about (1/2"-3/4") thick. As this mixture starts to harden, use your finger-tips or thumbs to give it a mildly dimpled texture that will resemble hewn stone. Cover with a damp sack or some such, so that it dot not 'go off' too quickly. When it is completely hard, give the sink a couple of coats of liquid manure to 'weather' it and encourage the growth of mosses and lichens to complete its transformation.
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Wooden tubs and casks are also to be found at very reasonable prices. Keep your eyes open in the garden centres and green grocers' shops, as well as scanning local advertisements for them. They should be cleaned out thoroughly and given a coat or two of non-toxic preservative both inside and out, while the metal bands will last longer if you keep them painted.
Apart from demolition yards and skips, junk shops too can be good hunting-grounds for all sorts of cheap containers. Coal-scuttles, watering-cans, tin and wooden trunks and hat-boxes, hods, baths and wash-tubs, pots, pans, jars, jugs and bowls of all descriptions will turn up from time to time and can be used.
Do not go with pre-conceived ideas as to what is and what is not a container. Indulge in a little lateral thinking. In a cottage garden almost anything can be used and often is. A tin hat makes a hanging basket, ancient lavatories are flushed with Geraniums, an abandoned dinghy is awash with Petunias and a black fire-grate is blazing with Nasturtiums. Two or three white-painted car tyres make a tub and another is a sandpit. Even logs can be chiselled out and planted up.
In formal surroundings you will have to show a little more restraint. It is not difficult to make containers from wood. Unless you are going for a rugged, rustic look, you will need planed timber, bought cut to size if necessary, but found easily enough in all the usual places. Hardwood is ideal, but you are more likely to find softwood and this will do well enough if it is stained or painted on the outside and brushed with preservative inside. Plastic can also be stuck to the inside, by way of a liner, but remember to pierce some holes through it for drainage.
Wooden containers are best raised off the ground in some way to prevent the base from rotting. This can be done by screwing two wooden runners to the base or by propping the container up on some bricks. If you do not wish to raise them up in this fashion, set them on a bed of gravel which will help a bit.
Simple square containers made from bricks, blocks or slabs put on their edges, can be cemented together quite easily by anyone, and you could use a bag of ready-mix for small jobs like this. A little washing-up liquid squeezed into the mixing water will help things to go smoothly. 'Hides' for ugly but practical containers can be made from timber or bricks, etc., and there will be no need for a base, just four sides into which the inner container can be dropped. If you are using bricks and blocks you can lay them without mortar, so that they can be easily dismantled and taken with you or moved to another spot. Sleepers, too, can be piled up in this fashion, as their weight will keep them in place.
Economic Gardening Ideas
More Economic Gardening Ideas for Garden Landscaping
A more solid construction will be needed to make raised beds and pools, and unless you are building them on an already paved area, you will need to dig a trench for the foundations. They can be square, oblong, round, triangular, octagonal or what you will. They can be made singly or in a series of groups and terraces. Logs and unplaned timber will look right in country gardens, brick can be used anywhere, as can planed timber, while blocks and slabs on edge will look best in a modern setting unless they are spruced up with a facing of trellis, given a coping, perhaps, and painted sparkling white or some sophisticated shade of green instead. Beading and trellising can also be added to wooden containers and beds, or they can be given the Gothic touch. Whatever you choose to use to make raised beds, do not forget to give the beds some weep-holes round the bottom, to improve the drainage. This is particularly important if the bed is set on a solid surface instead of open ground.
Some form of coping is always a neat finish to a raised bed and it provides a pleasant seat as well. This is particularly nice if you have made a raised pool, as happy hours can be spent just sitting and staring into the depths, which can be very soothing indeed.
If there is a restaurant or delicatessen nearby, make friends with the owner or the staff, as quite often food is delivered to them in catering-sized packs of metal, wood or plastic that could be useful to you, either in their own right or as liners for something more decorative but fragile, like an old wicker basket. I once found some slim and elegant barrels outside a Chinese Restaurant. They were covered with the most intriguing symbols which led to a lot of useless speculation. These barrels made excellent containers as they gave a good depth of soil but did not take up much floor-room.
All sorts of metal containers can be used, from oil-drums at one end of the scale to paint-tins at the other. Remember that many metals are toxic, so it is sensible to give them all a couple of coats of bituminous or rubber paint on the inside to seal them and brush another couple of coats of ordinary paint of exterior quality on the outside to preserve the metal. If the containers are rusty, use one of the new products that combine with the rust to make a tough and rustproof undercoat. Your paint merchant will advise you about all these products.
The simpler metal containers, such as the above-mentioned oil-drums and paint-tins, can be given a pleasing uniformity by painting them all the same colour, either to match their surroundings if you want to 'lose' them, or in a strong colour if you want them to make a statement, as they say in Pseud's Corner. Alternatively, you could paint them every colour of the rainbow and a few others besides. In a small area, these paint-tin containers could be hung aloft from different vantage points to give some instant height. Remember that plants that climb can also fall, so you can have one lot clambering up a trellis and another dangling down to embrace them, thus doubling the coverage rate.
Containers of china, earthenware and clay are usually ready to use straight away, but, like everything else, will need some drainage holes, which can be made by using a masonry bit on the slow speed of your drill. Place some masking tape across the part to be drilled to reduce the risk of cracks and splinters.
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