How to Recycle Old Furniture

We all have a hodgepodge room in our homes. Maybe it isn't a room, but a drawer, or a closet full of treasured items that you just can't bear to throw out. Perhaps it is a broken piece of your grandmother's china. Or your grandfather's broken money clip. Or, maybe it is the first piece of pottery that your child crafted with his own hands, then cried when he broke it into hundreds of pieces. We all have treasured sentiments tied up, waiting to emerge again. But how? Why not give them new life by using them to decorate and beautify your yard?

Take an old dining room chair, for example. Most of us have an old broken chair hiding in the corner should company decide to pop in. Use it instead to create a unique, planting centerpiece.

Here's what you need:

  • Wooden chair
  • Pliers
  • Handsaw
  • Paintbrush (if desired)
  • Paint (if needed)
  • Plant
  1. Knock or cut or even unscrew the legs off of the chair. You want to be able to place it directly on the ground to keep it stable and to allow plants to possibly grow through it.
  2. Take off the upholstery, if there is any, using the pliers to re­move tacks or upholstery staples, and use the handsaw to cut a ring into the wooden seat. Make sure that the hole is large enough to hold a pot. Or, if you would like, you can actu­ally plant the greenery directly in the ground. Ferns are a great choice for this.
  3. Decorate it. Paint it. Make it your own conversation piece.
  4. Use pretty climbing plants, such as ivy or morning glory, and train them to grow up the chair spindles.
  5. Place the chair anywhere you like—in your flower garden, or even on your deck.

You don't have to stop with your old furniture; you can also use smaller items like broken earrings or old costume jewelry to make beautiful stepping stones for your garden.

Here's what you need:

  • Pie pan, plastic planter saucers, or old cake pan
  • Cooking spray
  • Cement
  • Household decorative pieces
  1. Choose a mold. The best mold to use when dealing with cement is a plastic planter saucer. It will easily release the ce­ment once dried. Food boxes that can be easily torn away, like pizza boxes, also work well. You can also use an old pie pan or cake pan to act as a mold to hold the cement. Just make sure to liberally coat the bottom of any mold chosen with cooking spray to allow the cement to release when it hardens.
  2. Mix the cement, pour it in the mold, and wait for it to slightly harden. Tap the container to make sure there are no bubbles in the cement. You may have to use paper towels to collect any excess water on top.
  3. Use anything you like to make a mosaic pattern: A bro­ken drinking glass. (Just be careful!) Old belt buckles. Un­matched buttons. Leftover aquarium rocks. You can use any kind of shiny personal items that have been hovering in your drawers, closets, or jewelry boxes for years, searching for a home.
  4. Give kids a chance to get in on the fun and use their hands and feet to really personalize your garden stones. Use bro­ken pieces of their first Christmas ornament or fragments of their baby picture frames. Use pieces of champagne glasses from your wedding day to create an anniversary stone. Or, write special dates in the cement to solidify celebration or memorial stones.
  5. Allow the stones to dry, pop them out, and place them in your garden.

You can make everything from name plaques, wreaths, wind chimes, and sun catchers using items from your home. The point is to search your home for personal lawn and house decorations before you drive somewhere to buy something that may never cap­ture your own unique family memories. You save gas, money, and energy, and you create something that is personalized and artistic. After all, the beauty of hodgepodge art is in the eye of the memory holder.

Great Green Tip

Do you love animals too much to use chemicals to keep them out of your garden? But, do you love eating your homegrown vegetables just as much as those roaming critters? Deer are some of the worst for grazing through a garden. One of the easiest and greenest ways to avoid using chemcals is to sprinkle some of your hair clippings around your garden. If that doesn't appeal to you, consider leaving your "scent" outside. You can deter hungry critters by leaving urine around your garden. If you don't feel like collecting and spreading your own personal "scent," allow your pet to do that dirty work for you!

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