04 Jun 2015

Waste not want not


Many self-builders find themselves at the end of a project with a beautiful home surrounded by a bare garden. However, there are many ways to create a beautiful garden by using resources already on your site.


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Any self-builder or renovator will have long dreamt of finishing their project and moving into the completed home is a euphoric feeling. However, whether small or large, it’s inevitable that the garden will have faced some tough months, probably weighed down under building materials stacked high and possibly even left over machinery. It may be that you have a beautiful home surrounded by left over construction materials, as well as an exhausted budget incapable of fulfilling any garden design ambitions. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to create your own Garden of Eden by using leftover materials and household waste.

Reusing build materials

Many find themselves at this stage with no budget to bring in a garden professional, as well as a garden full of leftover materials, from bricks and tiles to old masonry and plasterboard.

Before you order a skip, think about how some of these materials could become part of your garden design. Why not lay a path with leftover brickwork, use left over timber to make a unique garden bench or make a pizza oven using abandoned tiles? Not only is reusing leftover building materials environmentally efficient, but it will also save you money and create a unique aesthetic.

B&Q’s resident DIY expert, Project Pete shares his tips for reusing building materials in garden design: “Building waste such as broken up brick and block is ideal to use as hard core for either creating solid base for a patio or used for landscaping. You can also get creative to great effect with other materials; for example, copper pipe can be can be used to make garden features for climbing plants to grow around - the copper will turn green over time which adds a rustic effect. I’ve also seen old bath taps used to create a water feature by connecting them to a water pump and hose!”

Making use of household waste

All flowers, plants and trees get the majority of the nutrients that keep them alive and in bloom from the soil in which they are planted, so starting a compost heap at home is a great way to produce quality plant food for free. A compost also greatly reduces the amount of waste you send to landfill – almost 50% of the contents of the average dustbin could be used effectively for compost.

There’s no trick to creating your own compost, you just provide the ingredients and let nature do the rest. The rich, dark and crumbly end product will be full of good nutrients that can work wonders on your garden.

Most people prefer to use a compost bin. This will prevent any animals from getting into your heap and stop any bad smells emanating from it; whilst also retaining the warmth and moisture that’s necessary for good compost and allowing good air circulation. A compost heap can also be started on the bare earth and kept covered with a tarp, this way worms will be able to get in and aerate the pile, helping the materials to breakdown faster.

Most types of kitchen and garden waste are fine to throw on the compost heap, but there are a few things you’ll definitely want to avoid. Knowing which materials to compost can be a little complicated as too much of the wrong things could end up damaging your plants. It is therefore important to make sure that what’s in your bin is good for your garden and for feeding your plants.

Ordinarily, compost can take up to nine months to break down to usable level, and even longer if you have a lot of fleshy fruit peels or other large items in there. Turning over the compost with a pitch fork every couple of weeks will help the process along, there are also a range of compost accelerator products available which add extra microbes and enzymes to the mix, encouraging faster breakdown.

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