If you are starting a new home renovation project, you may be looking into green materials, which have proliferated in recent years. Gone are the days where “going green” meant doubling your expenditures. While there is still a premium on most green materials, that premium has diminished significantly over the past decade. You also don’t have to sacrifice quality or materials in many cases, as the number and variety of sustainable products has increased significantly. From hardwood floors to dining room tables, sustainable products are fairly easy to find.
In addition to the heightened focus on green homes, the number of people using green materials in their outdoor living spaces, specifically their landscapes, has increased as well. Many people are realizing the importance of conscientious landscaping, zero-scaping, and other environmentally friendly ways to fix up their yards.
Depending on the size of your project you may be looking to hire someone to help or perform the landscape renovation. If so, there are many contractors who specialize in recycled landscapes, so doing your research before hiring a landscape artist can be a crucial step in using reclaimed materials. Be sure to review their portfolio and ask for references, as some nefarious individuals use the “green excuse” to add a premium to the cost of the project. Contractors truly committed to using green materials will be happy to share their successes; others, not so much.
If you are doing the landscaping yourself, you may find yourself looking for recycled materials but not sure know how to find them. Ask your local recycling plant, dump, other landscape artists, and building contractors where they find the most reclaimed materials. For pretty much any project you have in mind, there are reclaimed materials that can be substituted for raw materials, saving you money and helping the planet.
Recover the Materials Yourself
Beyond using recycled materials, you may really enjoy reclaiming the materials yourself. Go to an old rail yard or barn for example. There are lots of raw metals and old pieces of machinery lying around most of those places, and all you have to do is ask whoever owns the property if you can use a few of their old rusted nails, bits, or metal scraps for a project you are working on. Odds are they will be happy to be rid of it.
You can also check your local dump. Although the smell is bad at first, there is a true treasure trove of old and new materials that you can recycle and save from the landfill. Beyond just a place with used material, the dump is wonderful in its diversity. You may find that exact item you had in mind, but you may also find news ideas and materials you hadn’t previously considered.
Beyond just using railroad ties as a retaining wall or a piece of wrought-iron for a vine climber, recycled material can add artistic flare. From glass to metal, tile to wood, the variety of materials that you can use to add aesthetics to the landscape is incredible. Color doesn’t just have to come from flowers. In addition, you might use recycled materials to increase irrigation, build small deer fences, or to add textural variety to your landscape. Not only do these little extras save you money, but they can add a truly whimsical and one of kind feel to your design.
Whatever your outdoor project, reclaimed or recycled materials can reduce cost, add personality and help the environment. When you think about green living, remember that those principals can be applied to your “nature projects” as well.
Richard Ells is a freelance writer who does a lot of his writing from the back porch. Several years ago he initiated a major project to turn the field of weeds and thorn bushes into a functional outdoor space; recycled material played a prominent role in the design.
Image Source: jrusselllandscape