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10 Upcycling Ideas For Your Outdoor Spaces

10 Upcycling Ideas For Your Outdoor Spaces

Did you know that the U.S. is the number 1 trash-producing country globally, with each citizen generating 1,609 pounds of waste per annum? The University of Southern Indiana puts things into perspective when it concludes that “This means that 5% of the world’s people generate 40% of the world’s waste.” 

If Americans indeed generate 40% of the world’s waste, there is no denying that we have a waste challenge that needs to be solved. The good news is that this is a challenge we can solve if we work together to upcycle instead of throwing away stuff we no longer need.

But how do I get started upcycling? This is the question we want to answer in this article. We provide some examples of how you can upcycle household items to decorate and add personality to your outdoors. 

What Is Upcycling? 

Most of us have heard about recycling, but upcycling is not a concept that many are familiar with. UpcycleThat.com, a website dedicated to providing upcycling ideas and inspiration, says, “Upcycling is taking something that’s considered waste and repurposing it.”

UpcycleThat.com adds that “The upcycled item often becomes more functional or beautiful than what it previously was.” The same source says that the process is called upcycling because it increases the value of the item. 

Apart from increasing value, upcycling and repurposing items helps the environment by reducing waste in landfills. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions because fewer goods are manufactured when people reuse old items for new roles.  

In defining upcycling, it’s often important to clarify how it is different from the more familiar concept of recycling. UpcycleThat.com says that the difference lies in the processes that recycling and upcycling include. Recycling breaks down an item before its components are reused. On the other hand, upcycling creatively reuses the materials, giving them a second function and life. 

Let’s now look at some cool, easy, and fun upcycling ideas for your outdoor space. 

1. Turn a Wine Bottle into Outdoor Pendant Lights

Turn a Wine Bottle into Outdoor Pendant Lights

Researchers trying to find out why heart disease rates were lower in France than in other countries in the 1970s concluded that wine consumption had to do with it. Even though some studies have been debunking this notion for some years now, those who love their wine have accepted the conclusions hook, line, and sinker. 

But what do you do with all those wine bootless when the last drop of wine is out? You create outdoor pendant lights for the covered parts of your patio: 

LivinSpaces.net, an online architecture and design website, lists some of the items you will need to create the wine bottle lights: 

  • Empty wine bottle, label removed
  • Acetone
  • Cotton wick
  • Scissors
  • Lighter or match
  • Ice water
  • Sandpaper
  • Hanging light bulb socket
  • Light bulb
  • Cork (optional)

You can see the images depicting the steps you should take to create the lights on the LivinSpaces.net website.

2. Create a Garden Goodie with a Chest Of Drawers

 

With a bit of creativity, furniture upcycling can turn any old piece of furniture into a beautiful item. The great thing about a chest of drawers is that you don't need to do much work to repurpose it. 

To create the garden in drawers, start by sealing the drawers with a clear sealant so that the wood doesn't start rotting when you water the plants. 

Check out how Cloe Thomson, a presenter on the YouTube channel The Gardenettes, created a lovely succulent garden below:  

3. Plant in Old Seats 

Plant in Old Seats

Check the clutter in any home, and you are likely to find an old seat among it. It can be a challenge to find new roles for an old seat that is no longer useful. However, with a bit of creativeness, you can turn your old seat into a planter that can improve your outdoor space. 

The website that provides creative home decor ideas, HomeBNC.com, has a host of unique chair planter ideas you can use.   

 

4. Use an Old Ladder to Display Anything

 

an Old Ladder to Display Anything

 

Using an old domestic ladder that hasn’t been maintained well is not always a good idea. Seniors are also usually advised to stay off ladders for their own safety. If you find yourself in this situation, you don’t have to throw away your old ladder; you can use it to display things.

In his article published by LittleThings.com, Phil Mutz shares some creative ladder upcycling ideas. LittleThings.com shares content about little things that spark joy, such as cooking, DIY, and caring for pets. 

Mutz shows that you can repurpose your old ladder into a shelf for storing books, a coat hanger rail, or hanging lanterns on your front porch. 

5. Build a Mini Fire Pit in a Flower Pot 

a Mini Fire Pit in a Flower Pot

Having a small patio and a shoestring budget can be considered as disadvantages. However, if you have some flower pots, you can turn the disadvantages into advantages by creating a mini fire pit in a plant pot.

Lee Wallender writes for a decorating and gardening online magazine, TheSpruce.com. In his piece, he suggests 10 creative DIY ideas for backyard fire pits. One of the ideas involves a DIY fire pit that you can mold from a container like a plant pot or an urn.

To raise the mini fire pit, you can place it on a concrete Hexagon Side Table in the patio. 

6. Transform a Dresser into a Potting Bench with a Sink 

Transform a Dresser into a Potting Bench with a Sink

Covid-19 has taught us the importance of washing our hands all the time. If you are hosting family and friends outdoors, you would want to ensure that there is a place where people can wash their hands whenever they need to. 

If you have an old dresser sitting in your garage, it’s time to give it a new life as a potting bench with a sink. Arricca Elin Sansone has an excellent example of what the finished product can look like in her article published by CountryLiving.com.   

7. Make Stylish Outdoor Seating with Pallets 

Stylish Outdoor Seating with Pallets

If you don’t believe that outdoor seating doesn’t need to be expensive, you probably haven’t seen old pallets that have been creatively used. The advantage of manually upcycling pallets is that they are very easy to work with. 

Brian Patrick Flynn produced an article published by HGTV, an American pay television channel owned by Discovery, Inc. In this article, he offers some stylish outdoor pallet seating ideas. He suggests that pallet seating can “Bring rustic, repurposed charm to your deck or porch.” 

Flynn also presents a step-by-step process for creating pallet seating. Add class to the patio where you place these seats with a Dinosaur Wall Hanging Décor.  

8. Transform Old Kitchen Utensils into Mini Herb Gardens

Old Kitchen Utensils into Mini Herb Gardens

While some kitchen utensils may last several generations, many have to be replaced regularly. For example, your nonstick pots and pans will need to be retired once they have scratches and food starts to stick. However, you could give these utensils a new life as mini herb gardens. 

In an article titled, 20 Mind-Blowing DIY Garden Ideas Using Old Kitchen Items, published in the DIY home and garden ideas blog, TheArtInLife.com, Z. Dimova presents some fun ways of upcycling kitchen utensils. Dimova’s herb gardens in teacups provide nutrition and aesthetics. 

A stylish Hand Shape Side Table can provide an excellent place for the mini herb garden. 

9. Let Bicycles Stand on a Transformed Crib Rail

Bicycles Stand on a Transformed Crib Rail

What do you do with crib rails once all your children are too old to sleep on a crib and you know you will never have another child? Many people faced with this question often delay making a decision and just leave the rails lying somewhere in the home. 

Remember, anything unused and gathering dust around your home is clutter. HGTV has a solution: turn a crib rail into a bicycle stand. Hgtv.com lists the materials, tools, and steps for turning the crib rail into a neat bicycle stand.   

10. Create a Stunning Plant Holder with Road Tires 

Stunning Plant Holder with Road Tires

In the United States alone, 246 million tires will form part of the waste this year. Because tires have a complicated mix of ingredients, they are challenging to dispose of safely. If each person getting rid of a tire upcycled, the problem would not be as bad. 

Tires are pretty easy to upcycle. In most cases, all you need is paint and a brush to transform the tire from dull black to something attractive. In a list of over 50 unique and creative upcycling DIY projects, HomeBNC.com shows how you can hang a nicely painted tire to a tree and plant flowers in it. 

Tips for Upcycling

Now that you have some fun upcycling ideas to start with, let’s look at some tips to make the process even more enjoyable: 

  • Carefully select materials based on where you want to place the upcycled item. For instance, wood would need to stay in a covered place. 
  • Start small to build up your confidence.  
  • Consider your existing outdoor theme so that the new items you create match it. 
  • Get essential DIY tools like paintbrushes, a hammer, screwdriver, jigsaw, drill, sander, nails, and gloves. 
  • Take risks and experiment with colors. 

Once you get used to upcycling, you will begin to see potential in almost everything you look at. Remember to take your time and be patient, as coming up with a great upcycled product is often a labor of love rather than a task that you do solely for practical purposes.   

outdoor patio and yard

12 Creative Ideas for Outdoor Patio and Yard Design

A well-designed patio or yard comes with many benefits. It provides you with an opportunity to put a personal touch on an important part of your home, making both your family and visitors feel more comfortable in the outdoors. If you decide to sell your house, your patio could appeal to potential buyers, adding more value to the property. 
While there is no doubt that a great patio or yard invites the people staying in the home to spend more time outdoors, benefiting from the advantages of fresh air and sunlight, designing these spaces can be challenging. 
If you are looking for creative ideas for designing your outdoors, this article is for you. 

Use What You Have 

Creating a great patio does not always need to be expensive. Start by looking around to see if there are any items lying around or in storage that you could use.
The idea of using old things to make new ones is known as upcycling. Writing for Reuters.com, Belinda Goldsmith defines upcycling as “reusing an object in a new way without degrading the material it is made from, as opposed to recycling which generally involves breaking down the original material and making it into something else, using more energy.” 
Lina D is a writer at BoredPanda.com, a digital art and pop culture magazine. She presents some cool upcycling ideas you can use in your patio, such as turning old bowler hats into lampshades, tennis rackets into mirrors, a bathtub into a couch, and skateboards into a children’s picnic table.  

1. Rekindle the Love with a Romantic Bench 

 
romantic bench
If you have a patio, there is no need to walk to a park just to sit on a romantic bench. You can create your own romantic space by putting a bench in your yard. This idea is perfect if you have a garden with tall trees. 
If you don’t have a garden with tall trees, you can still have your romantic bench and put it under a foldable umbrella. All you need is a secluded space where lovers can get their privacy to whisper little nothings to each other. 

2. Save Space with a Vertical Garden 

 
vertical garden
The website that delivers health and wellness information, Healthline.com, lists science-backed reasons plants are good for all of us. For example, it says that plants can help reduce stress, sharpen attention, help us recover from illnesses, and improve our general outlook on life.  
When it comes to wall plants on your patio, you have several choices. If you are looking for a more permanent solution, you can create a vertical garden. Apart from making your space look great, vertical gardens help save space. You could also reap more benefits if you include edible plants. 
If you want something temporarily, a pocket shoe organizer could be the best place for growing the plants. 

3. Attract Company with a Custom Fire Pit 

 
outdoor fire pit
If you want to gather people in a specific place, light a fire. Apart from keeping people warm, an outdoor fire pit is a great marvel to watch. This is the reason people sometimes say you don’t need a television if you have a fire. 
When designing a fire pit, you need to ensure that it’s positioned in place where you can really relax. Do this by getting comfortable benches with cushions and pillows. The idea is to ensure that people can sit around the fire pit no matter how cold it gets.  
Before you purchase and install your fire pit, be sure to check your area regulations to determine any legal issues you need to consider. 
 

4. Keep It Cool with an Outdoor Shower 

 
outdoor shower
Ask anyone that has ever taken a shower in the outdoors overlooking a lake or other water body on a summer day, and they will tell you that nothing feels better. Depending on the amount of space you have, an outdoor shower can either be permanent or temporary. 
Bob Vila, the television host of various shows, including This Old HouseBob Vila’s Home AgainBob Vila, and Restore America with Bob Vila, has some stunning ideas for an outdoor shower. Examples range from fully exposed showers to tree shade showers. 

5. Add Sophistication with Fountains 

Sophistication with Fountains
A fountain is a must-have in your patio or yard. If you can’t find enough reasons for getting one, we have gathered them for you: 
  • It creates a relaxed ambiance. 
  • The sound of falling water lessens unwanted noises.
  • If you meditate, a fountain can be an altar. 
  • A water fountain attracts different forms of wildlife, including birds and butterflies. 
 

6. Fill Spaces with Gravel 

spaces with gravel
The main advantage of gravel in the patio or backyard is that it is affordable and does not require much maintenance. If you have filled all the other spaces with plants, tiles, or concrete, and there are spaces you don’t know what to do with, put gravel in them and see your outdoor space transform. 

7. Create Comfort with Colorful Pillows 

colorful pillows
When it comes to decorating any part of a home, pillows are a staple. However, putting pillows on uncovered patios makes many people worried about the elements 
Before buying pillows for your patio furniture, ensure that the fabric is specifically made to withstand the elements. Abe Abbas writes for Spruce.com and advises that you should “Make sure you have room to store your outdoor furniture for winter, or at least for storing pillows and other fabric items.” 
If you purchase an all-weather patio set, all you will ever need is to store the pillows in a covered place during the winter or when not being used. You can then leave the rest of the furniture in place.   

8. Cook Up a Storm in the Outdoor Kitchen 

outdoor kitchen
When it comes to outdoor kitchens, the old saying “too many cooks spoil the broth” doesn’t apply. This is because the outdoor kitchen provides more space for more people to help in preparing meals. 
It’s also a lot easier to clean an outdoor kitchen after preparing a huge meal than it is to clean an indoor one.   

9. Add a Dining Spot for The Family

Dinning spot for family
Suppose you love celebrating life, hosting great company, or having family barbecues. In that case, your life is not complete without a dining spot on your patio.  
To create a perfect outdoor dining spot, you need to do your homework first. One of the most critical factors to determine is the location. When you do this, consider your comfort and your guests’. Look for areas where there is shade on sunny days. It should also not be exposed to strong winds. 
It is important to consider the location where the food is cooked. If you are bringing the food from the kitchen, you want to make sure that there are as few obstacles as possible for those carrying the food to the guests. This is why you want to avoid selecting areas where people have to walk over steep surfaces or steps.  

10. Create a Mood with Lighting 

Even though many people take lighting lightly, it is probably the most important design feature we should consider when designing a patio. To understand why lighting is important, let’s go back to a bit of biology and talk about circadian rhythms.   
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences defines circadian rhythms as the “physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle.” Adding, “These natural processes respond primarily to light and dark and affect most living things, including animals, plants, and microbes.” 
Based on the definition above, we note that it’s crucial to ensure that the lighting in your patio is appropriate for the time of day when it would be used. You could get a better idea of what you need to do by consulting a lighting designer.  

11. Invite People to Play with a Swing Chair 

playing with swing chair
Swinging chairs, also called hanging chairs, in the yard or patio are indispensable if you love comfort. If you have teenagers who like to put on their headphones and listen to music all day, then the swing chair is what you need. 
Teenagers are not the only ones who will love a swinging chair, adults too will find the gentle rocking permitted by the chair a great way to relax. Sharon Cecil presents the benefits of a rocking chair in an article published in the Courier Journal.
Cecil quotes Dr. Heinrich Addleheim of the Kinetic Therapy Clinic in Berlin, Germany, who says, “We’ve seen cases of patients recuperating from heart attack and stroke – without any trace of permanent damage – simply because they used a rocking chair while they were recovering.”  
The great thing about a swing chair is that it can suit any design. This means that you can bring it into any space without worrying that it may not match the rest of the design. 
 

12. Join the Latest Craze with an Outdoor Bar 

 

beautiful outdoor bar
Walk into a home with an outdoor bar, and you will suddenly realize that you need one too. An outdoor bar creates an excellent place to relax as a family or with guests. 
The bar also turns an ordinary home into a sophisticated place. Moreover, if you are ever going to sell or rent out your home, many buyers or renters will like the sound of “the house has an outdoor bar.” 
 
 

How To Marie Kondo Your Outdoor Spaces

How To Marie Kondo Your Outdoor Spaces

If you have been spending 90% of your time indoors like the majority of Americans, you probably haven’t heard that “spending time outdoors seems to have discernible benefits for physical and mental health.” 

Many people spend most of their time indoors because their outdoors is not appealing enough.

If you face this challenge, read through to the end and learn how to Marie Kondo your favorite outdoor spaces. 

This article focuses on an organizing method known as the KonMari Method. We start by providing a background of the Japanese TV host, organizing consultant, and author behind the method.

Her name is Marie Kondo. The article will then focus on how you can follow her six organizing rules to create the outdoors you want to spend most of your time in. 

Even though the KonMari Method covers both indoors and outdoors, we only focus on the outdoors in this article.  

 

Who Is Marie Kondo? 

Marie Kondo

(Photo: Marie Kondo)

 

On her website, KonMari.com, Marie Kondo describes herself as “a tidying expert, bestselling author, star of Netflix's hit show, ‘Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,’ and founder of KonMari Media, Inc.”  

Marie Kondo says that she has always been enchanted with organizing since she was young.

This interest saw her establishing a tidying consultancy at 19 while still a university student in Tokyo.

From these humble beginnings, Marie Kondo would later become so influential that Time Magazine named her as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2015.

The Method 

The KonMari Method has become extremely famous because it differs from most tidying methods that advocate for a slow approach that moves from space to space.

Instead, the method “encourages tidying by category — not by location.” 

Another factor that makes the KonMari Method unique is that the focus of tidying is not what you need to eliminate but rather what you want to keep.

Central to the process is the question: “Does this spark joy?”  

Marie Kondo says that “People around the world have been drawn to [her] philosophy not only due to its effectiveness but also because it places great importance on being mindful, introspective and forward-looking.”   

Even though many people mistakenly believe that the KonMari Method advocates for minimalism, Marie Kondo corrects this view: “KonMari is not minimalism.”

She adds, “Minimalism advocates living with less; the KonMari Method encourages living among items you truly cherish.” 

Now that we know who Marie Kondo is and the basics of her organizing method, let’s get organized and see how you can use the method to turn your outdoors into spaces you want to spend much time in.

We follow her six basic rules of tidying. 

 

Commit Yourself To Organize All At Once 

garden work

 

Instead of looking at decluttering or transforming your favorite outdoor spaces as something to be done over an extended time moving from one space to the next, the KonMari Method stipulates that you go all out once you have decided to tidy your space. 

In practice, committing yourself to organize all at once means that you start by deciding that it’s time to turn your garden or backyard into the version you want.

This commitment is realized by setting aside the time, money, and labor you will need to transform the space.   

The challenge with methods that advocate for a slow approach where you tidy a small part at a time is that there is a risk that you will never finish.

Organizing the whole area at one time is an indication that you understand that your spaces are linked and that it’s not possible to experience the joy of one organized space if the others are still disorganized. 

 

Write Down The Ideal Version Of Your Outdoor Space 

Write Down The Ideal Version Of Your Outdoor Space

 

The KonMari Method is based on the realization that the “tidying process is not about decluttering your house or making it look neat on the spur of the moment for visitors.”

Instead, “It’s about tidying up in a way that will spark joy in your life and change it forever.”  

Once you have decided that you want to turn your favorite outdoor spaces into the version you want, take out your pen and paper or notepad on your phone. Wherever you go, you will see inspiration.

However, you will not remember everything. So snap away and take notes that will assist you in creating the best outdoor setting you can imagine. 

The advantage of writing down what you want your ideal garden or backyard to look like is that it gives you an idea of what fits into the picture you have created and what doesn’t.

Whatever you write, be as clear as possible. Indicate how you will evaluate the work done to see if you have met your goals at the end. 

If you have no idea what to write, look at the spaces that inspire you, whether in magazines, TV shows, or neighbors’ gardens.

Write or take images of what you like about those spaces. Have a rudimentary sketch or a vision board of what you want the space to look like once you are done. 

 

Does Visualization Work? 

Some scientific studies support the idea that visualization can help you attain your goals. A study published by the National Library of Medicine concludes that athletes who used visualization had almost the same improvements as those involved in physical training. The researchers say, “We conclude that the mental training employed by this study enhances the cortical output signal, which drives the muscles to a higher activation level and increases strength.”  

 

Discard First

discard

 

Even though the KonMari Method doesn’t mainly focus on what you want to eliminate, it sees elimination as an important process from which we should draw lessons.

This is why the discard first rule is premised on the idea of focusing on what you want to keep by looking at the items in your outdoor space and asking yourself if each of the items still sparks joy or brings you happiness.

The discarding process involves thinking deeply about the items in your outdoor space and asking yourself if you still need them.

The KonMari Method is based on the belief that introspection helps you decide what you don’t need to bring into your life in the future.

There is a difference between eliminating items and storing them.

When you take all the things you are not using and find somewhere to store them, you have simply stored your clutter.

Getting rid of stuff means getting it out of your life for good. You could sell some of it, give it to those who need it, or send it away with waste removal. 

From a practical point of view, discarding the things you don’t need from your outdoor spaces first helps you understand the amount of space you have left.

This knowledge makes it easier to organize what you are left with and what you really need. 

 

Organize By Category, Not By Space 

The KonMari Method advises that you should organize your spaces by category and not by location.

But what does this mean in reality? It means that you should start by categorizing the items in your outdoor space.

Examples of categories include garden tools, outdoor furniture, plants, decorations, and the like. 

The reasoning behind tidying by category and not by location is that there may be similar items in more than one place.

Therefore, when you tidy your outdoors based on location, you will most likely end up doing the same job many times in different locations.

Organizing by category means that you will start by piling all the similar items in your garden or backyard together.

From this pile, select the items you want to keep and let the rest go. It’s important at this point to remember that you are not storing anything with the hope that you may need it one day; you are either keeping an item because it is still useful or you are getting rid of it. 

Once you have decided what you will keep, consider how you will lay it out in a way that sparks joy.

This means that everything should be placed where it belongs. Doing so makes it easier to keep things tidy going forward. 

 

Follow The Right Order 

Tidying your favorite outdoor spaces can be a considerable challenge, mainly when dealing with sentimental items.

This is the reason Marie Kondo advises that you start with the simple stuff, like those flower pots that haven’t been used in years or the tools that you needed when you lived in a different environment. 

The “follow the right order” rule is premised on the understanding that “As you move through each category, your energy and enthusiasm increases; you may be physically tired, but getting rid of unnecessary clutter acts as an invigorating pick-me-up.”

Starting with stuff that you are not too emotionally attached to provides you with a chance to hone your skills in the KonMari Method.

When you get to the sentimental stuff like that bench you bought with your first salary when you were 19, you are starting to understand the difference that your organizing attempts are making.

Focusing on sentimental stuff, in the beginning, will distract your attention.  

Begin organizing your space by removing all the rubbish, containers that are no longer useful, and packaging you forgot to get rid of.

Move to other items that may seem intact, but you no longer use. This could include garden tools or furniture.

Find plants that no longer spark joy or those you never got a chance to plant. And finally, you could end with the sentimental items you were placing aside as you were tidying. 

 

Does It Spark Joy? 

Mother and two kids spark joy in outdoor spaces

 

You are making an effort to organize your favorite outdoor spaces because you want to find joy when using them.

The KonMari Method is based on the conviction that “Only you can know what kind of environment makes you happy.”

Therefore, you need to ask a simple question when you look at every item in your outdoor space: Does it spark joy? If the answer is yes, you keep the item. 

Answering the above question can, however, be challenging when you are dealing with sentimental stuff.

It may not always be easy to be objective when dealing with such items because getting rid of them may feel like a betrayal to those that gave them to you, to the memories they trigger, or the service that the items have given you. 

The KonMari Method has an answer to the challenge of providing an objective answer when dealing with sentimental items: “your feelings are the standard for decision making — specifically, knowing what sparks joy.”

The method advises that when you pick up an item and ask whether it still sparks joy, “Pay attention to how your body responds.”

If the item brings inspiration and still excites you, take it as a cue that you still need it. 

 

Be Thankful 

Getting rid of stuff that doesn’t spark joy is not easy. It may come with feelings of guilt.

This is the reason Marie Kondo says, “Cherish the items that bring you joy, and let go of the rest with gratitude.” For her, “It’s about choosing joy.”

The idea of gratitude is supported by Dr. Yuko Hanakawa, a licensed New York City clinical psychologist.

She is quoted by HuffPost.com saying, “By treating your items with respect, kindness and gratitude, you are enhancing the spirit of the given item. ...

From that perspective, by saying ‘thank you,’ you are respecting the spirit of the items that you’re letting go of with gratitude, instead of getting rid of them with negativity or force.”

While the KonMari Method is appealing to those who have decided to declutter and organize their lives, it’s vital to note the importance of maintaining the order you have created so that you never have to declutter in the first place.

Suppose the disorder you see around yourself emanates from psychological conditions like a hoarding disorder or depression.

In that case, you may need to seek professional help.