From Yard Trash to Garden Treasure From Yard Trash to Garden Treasure

Shawna L. Krautheim
It's hard not to admire a flower or vine-covered garden arch, or to resist the romantic charm of a trellis covered in climbing roses, bright morning glory, or aromatic jasmine. Of course, while we might enjoy them, not everyone can afford to go out and purchase costly garden accents for their home. For many, the phrase "champagne tastes on a beer budget" rings true, but it's nice to dream isn't it?

Now what would you do if you were told that you could tip those scales? With surprisingly little work and just a couple of dabs of creativity, we can tidy up our yards and use the debris that is collected there, in order to make attractive rustic accents for our house and garden both. Talk about the ultimate in recycling! Interested in hearing more? Continue reading to learn how to turn your yard trash into yard treasure.

Isn't it a pain, when you finish pruning your trees, to have to drag all those old limbs and branches off. Whether you run them through your own chipper, have a bonfire, or haul them to a dump, they are still a pain to have to dispose of. Without thinking, every year, we prune and throw away perfect opportunities to jazz up our yards. Spare limbs, branches and twigs can be used to create some of the most beautiful accents for your yard - lashed together to form supports, arches, or even a trellis for your clematis vine, it's amazing what your imagination can create, once you let it run free.

Crude fences, fashioned of long horizontal branches for support beams, can be lashed together with thin upright branches to create a quaint country fence. Don't want to go that country? Try a beachcomber feel for your garden. Take a variety of short posts, all of varying lengths, and debark them (you may even try leaving them exposed to the elements for a while, if you want that weathered look). Once you have debarked them, arrange them alongside your flowerbeds or walkways to form a pier-like border that calls the ocean to mind.

For simple structures, like a trellis of branches, nails can be used to hold your wood in place. If you need more stability, you can wrap the joints securely with thin wire. A pair of pliers will help twist the wire tightly around the joints and, if needed, a pair of pruning sheers can be used to take off any excess from the branches or remove any sharp or pokey ends. Be sure to plant with the stability of your structure in mind, as well. If you're making a very light and loosely held together trellis, you will want to avoid overly aggressive climbers, such as the trumpet vine, which can make short work of your handiwork.

With the use of mortise-and-tenon joints, structures requiring greater strength can also be created from your yard debris. Attaching a tenon-maker to your drill, you can create tenon joints that can be inserted into the mortise holes. Apply a bit of wood glue to the hole prior to sliding the tenon in to add even more stability and allow you to form rustic chairs and benches, on which you can sit, have a glass of lemonade and enjoy your beautiful garden. A rather rough tenon can also be created with the use of a pocket knife, though this is a slow (and potentially dangerous) process.

The branches of the weeping willow is a favorite material among those who enjoy making twig structures; long, straight and flexible, they create beautiful arches with relatively little work. Other trees can also produce useable branches, however. Experiment and try different kinds and see what you can come up with. For best results and the most flexibility, try to form and use your branches within a day or two of having cut them. It's also important that, if you plan on doing curvy arches and fancy designs, you have either a second set of hands or a lot of patience - it can take a little while to get into a groove and really find yourself at ease when it comes to bending branches. You may want to loosely wire joints together, so that you can make adjustments and then tighten it all down later.

For greater stability, you can weave twigs together or wrap several twigs together with wire. Almost any size or shape of wood can be made into a beautiful rustic structure. Some require uniform branches, and others will take whatever comes their way - the key is just how wide you're willing to open the window of your imagination. Accent with some large rocks or stones that you find on your property or, using a stone bonding agent, try using small rocks to decorate planters and pots. The beauty is all there, just waiting for you to come along and unlock it. Give it a shot today - if you don't like your creation, you can still run it through the chipper and make some lovely mulch for your beds. What have you got to lose?

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