Reduce, Re-Use, Re-Purpose, Recycle


Home composting not only saves fuel for collection, processing, and re-delivery, it means your local council saves money to spend on other services and you get some free compost to use in the garden.

You could use a simple compost bin (ideally made from recycled plastic), of which many councils offer at a reduced price, buy ready-made timber bays, or make your own out of old (untreated) wooden pallets.

See the composting section of the website for more details on what to put in and how to use it.

Plant pots

Plastic is made from oil and so we need to re-use and recycle plastic plant pots as much as possible to prevent it ending up in landfill or incineration where we are, in effect, still burning fossil fuels.

Plant pots can of course be re-used many times. If you really do have too many, offer them to friends or neighbours, use websites like Freecycle, Freegle or local Facebook groups or look for any local community garden groups.

Many garden centres and nurseries will now take back plant pots for recycling.

As a last resort, in Central Bedfordshire, plant pots can also be put in the ‘hard plastics’ container at the local recycling centre. Check with your own local authority as how best to recycle these.

Polystyrene is not recyclable so avoid buying products sold in this type of packaging.

Of course, the food we buy often comes in plastic pots trays and these can also be used in the garden e.g. yogurt pots can be used for seedlings, just pierce a few holes in the bottom for drainage.

If you keep any plastic out of sunlight they will last for longer.

Compost bags

Compost can sometimes be bought loose in fill-your-own-bag schemes but often it will only be available in plastic bags. Don't immediately throw them in the bin though. They can be used for storing compost and leaf mould made from your own garden, can be cut up and used to line hanging baskets, or used to cover areas where you want to suppress weeds (weigh them down with old bricks or add a temporary layer of bark. Check local recycling but the bags can often be put in your kerbside recycling if you have washed them out first.

Plastic bottles

Soft drinks bottles can also be used in the garden. If you cut off the bottom you can use them to make cloches to protect tender plants in spring. Keep the lid on in chilly weather and remove it when you need more ventilation.

Supporting and protecting plants

Instead of buying ready-made supports, you can make your own using plants already in the garden. Bamboo, Willow or Dogwood canes can be cut in spring and used in this way.

If you need to net your plants, you can re-use old net curtains.


Always use timber from sustainable sources. Ideally buy locally produced timber products that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or PEFC certified.

Even with FSC approval it is best not to use tropical hardwoods as it has further to travel.  For native hardwoods use green oak (although it will warp and move as it dries out over a number of years) or Sweet chestnut which is best as poles for rustic pergolas, fences and retaining walls. Western Red Cedar is also good. Look for a local renewable supply.

Check what the timber has been treated with and see if it is compostable.

Old timber could be used to make seats, wildlife habitats, logs for firewood (after a long period of seasoning) or be chipped for use as path surfacing. Small amounts of chipped wood can also be put in the compost heap.

Reducing the amount of materials used, particularly paving and walling

Hard landscaping is probably the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions due to quarrying and shipping, production of man-made products, and laying, as it is dependant on using cement which is the source of about 8% of the world’s CO2.

 To cut down on cement use, think about how much paving you really need. In some instances you could replace cemented walls with alternatives such as dry-stone walls (I have one made of broken up old paving stones), gabions filled with recycled materials (like old bricks), sustainable timber, or for boundaries or screens use planting/hedging.

Re-using and recycling materials where possible

Aim to waste nothing and export nothing from the site. This is not always possible but as a minimum try to ensure that waste material is kept separated and recycled appropriately and not all put in a general skip destined for land-fill or incineration which releases large amount of greenhouse gases.

Any materials taken on or off site will be using fuel (as well as costing money) so try to re-use as much as possible. Often, the landscapers will advise on what can and can’t be used in terms of existing materials being re-used or broken up for hardcore. If the existing materials are good and re-usable you can always list them on a website such as Freecycle if you can’t use them yourself.

This also applies to soil. Try to create ground levels that mean that good topsoil is re-used as much as possible. If it does have to go offsite, ensure it is kept clean and not contaminated with concrete or metals for example, so that it can be collected for recycling.

Use recycled materials in the design

There are now a variety of products on the market that are made from recycled materials or you can create your own features using found or existing items.

Reclamation yards/antique shops are good places to find features for the garden.

Garden Tools and accessories

Avoid using energy-hungry items in the garden, e.g. hot tubs, patio heaters. Also review your use of other gadgets. Raking leaves is just as effective as a leaf blower.

If you want lighting, make sure it is low energy lighting. (Lighting negatively affects wildlife so keep it to a minimum and use lamps that are warm white.) Allow space for a clothes line and use it as much as possible.

“We were really impressed with the design service offered by Jayne. Jayne was able to take our initial brief and translate this into a stunning contemporary design that really made the most of the small space we had and provided a great backdrop to our new kitchen extension. The combination of hard landscaping and planting have completely transformed the garden. Over several meetings she was able to communicate the concepts and hone the design and even sample materials. She then recommended and then liaised with the landscaper to ensure the implementation went to plan before completing the final planting.”

Mrs Fenner
Marston Moretaine

"I found Jayne to be very friendly and pleasant to work with. The design is lovely - very attractive. I was impressed with Jayne's willingness to adapt to and take account of our cost constraints and likes and dislikes regarding plants. All work was carried out efficiently and pleasantly. Jayne was always ready to discuss and advise about design and plants and has transformed a boring and rather difficult small garden into an interesting area which will only improve as the plants grow and mature."

Mr & Mrs Barwell
Welwyn Garden City

We love our garden now. Our two dogs had pretty much destroyed it and it had become an embarrassment. We never used it, not even just for ourselves. It now has structure and a proper patio area and is always good to look at even in this bleak weather!

This will be our second spring with it and I'm really looking forward to seeing everything grows again and how it will change this year.

Mr & Mrs Crooke

Jayne was always totally reliable, whether coming out to look at the garden or providing plans and ideas, and is a very knowledgeable plantswoman.

She had a good understanding of what I wanted to do with the garden, and always listened to my ideas and then made suggestions that were appropriate to the location and aspect.

Mr & Mrs Townsend
Houghton Conquest

Jayne's ideas of how to transform a long straight garden into something more interesting were quite inspirational. By introducing shape and perspective the garden now has structure.

The planting plan she suggested has added interest and constant colour which changes with the season.

Needless to say we are delighted.

Mr & Mrs Collier

We were delighted with Jayne's approach to our garden and her understanding of what we were trying to achieve.

Her knowledge of plants and what will actually work is fantastic.

Three years on we are still delighted with our garden.

Mr & Mrs Bryant

Jayne has a real passion for gardening and her knowledge of plants is highly impressive. She seems to know exactly which plant will thrive in a particular part of the garden - sunny, shady, soil type and so on. She also thinks about the proportions and overall effect.

To work with, she is extremely flexible and happy to give you just the bits of advice or help you need.

Mel Henson
Welwyn Garden City