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Reuse and Recycle in the Garden

Reducing waste starts with not making it in the first place. Selecting the right plants for the right place, as well as watering and fertilizing judiciously are important ways to reduce the tons of plant debris that end up in the Bay Area's landfills.

Reusing plant trimmings as mulch, grasscycling, and using compost improves soils, creates healthier landscapes and in addition, keeps materials out of local landfills.

Using salvaged and recycled-content materials is another great way to reduce waste while creating a unique, attractive garden.


Tips for Reusing & Recycling in the Garden:

  1. Mulch it. Covering bare soil with mulch made from recycled plant or wood waste improves soil health, controls weeds and keeps moisture in the soil. Learn more.
  2. Choose recycled content. Many yard and garden products are made with recycled materials, including decking and outdoor furniture made from recycled plastic and wood byproducts.
  3. Don't down-cycle. Put materials to the highest use. Avoid "down-cycling," which means taking a high quality material and putting it to a low quality use, like chipping good-quality lumber for mulch.
  4. Build with urbanite. Chunks or slabs of broken concrete, also known as "urbanite," are great for building benches, garden walls, raised beds, and flagstone-like paths and patios. The Bay-Friendly Landscaping Guide to Recycled-Content and Salvaged Materials includes instructions for how to build an urbanite bench.



Related Resources

  • This guide explains how to reduce waste and create beautiful landscapes using salvaged and recycled-content materials. It includes types and sources of materials as well as a section on using “urbanite” to build benches, garden walls and more. Although it was written for landscape professionals, it contains useful information for home gardeners.

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