Eco Garden Design Part 2

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In part one I gave some stylish ideas that I will be using in my garden to save, better use and collect water … 

In this post I wanted to shed some light on how easy it is to use recycled, eco and chemical-free building products to build the hard landscaping, i.e. fences, steps, flowerbeds, pathways and garden structures.

STONE  is unique and highly prized for the patina it gathers over time…

Reclaimed Yorkstone Paving
Reclaimed Yorkstone Paving

Get to know where your local builder’s salvage yards are (see Resources on the top menu bar for some ideas) and look online at eBay/craigslist/gumtree sites.  All types of stone, gravel, rocks taken from old churches, schools, factories etc… can be found – there is a  multitude of fabulous product out there and not only will you have a unique look but the satisfaction of seeing it in a new home (together with a quirky backstory) is not to be underestimated! 

Reclaimed Brick Driveway
Reclaimed Brick Driveway

I am often asked why is using new stone bad for the environment it’s natural?  The problem is that to produce use new stone it must be cut from quarries. This requires huge amounts of water in the cutting and extraction process, together with general the manufacturing and transportation causing air pollution all adds up to an un-eco product.  Especially when there is so much beautiful stone around just waiting for someone with a bit of imagination to come along and reuse it! Perhaps we could also start to think of natural resources as finite, i.e. once they are gone that is it … and surely we need to consider to leave some for future generations. The other big advantage of using reclaimed stone is that it has a patina which gives your garden instant gravitas and blends better with nature….

Small courtyard garden by isabellalopezquesada.com
Small courtyard garden in Madrid by isabellalopezquesada.com

Concrete is a highly debated subject in the eco world.  However it can tick a lot of eco boxes; be locally produced, needs no maintenance,  is highly functional, lasts a very long time and can be recycled again.

 As with many eco decisions it is about weighing up the pros and cons!

The most damaging component in concrete is the use of portland cement in the mix which causes vast amounts of CO2 emissions when produced.  The good news is that this component is no longer necessary (unless you are building skyscrapers) and can be replaced by other things including fly ash from steel production waste instead. So investigate that you are getting a greener concrete and you should not feel un-eco to use it. 

Swiss concrete production
Swiss concrete production
Recycled broken concrete pavers source: greenposting.org
Recycled broken concrete pavers source: greenposting.org

It is fair to say that here in Switzerland they do like the modern look. The terrain is quite hilly and they love concrete. I managed to find some concrete walls that I don’t find hideous!  

images of concrete below from creabeton.chScreen Shot 2016-04-12 at 12.35.06Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 13.12.03

If you do decide that you will go with an ‘eco’ concrete (as outlined above) there is a big variety and concrete can be customised by colour, moulding and texture…… e.g.the wood profile below is quite a good way of having a maintenance free decking/path and I like the ‘trunks’ to sit on or make stepping stones with…

Wood effect concrete
Wood effect concrete
Concrete tree trunks
Concrete tree trunks

Concrete can be coloured and textured to look like stone..

concrete steps look like stone
concrete steps look like stone

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Wood is versatile, and sits in nature without even trying. Here in Switzerland it is no longer allowed to use railway sleepers in your gardens because of the diesel/ chemicals which leach into the soil even after many years.  As a removal incentive the local council even allows you to deduct the replacement of these with something non-toxic from your tax return!

fsc-certified-wood-teaserboxThe best rule of thumb is to use FSC registered wood products (now widely available at your local DIY depot) or repurposed wood (from salvage) which is untreated and free from toxic paints/stains.

Reclaimed rocks/wood planks make a modern entrance
Reclaimed rocks/wood planks make a modern entrance

When painting/staining garden structures use zero VOC products. Look at resources above and check out Sansin Wood stain.

You can also choose to leave wood untreated, allowing it to weather to a lovely silver grey

Weathered wood fence and gate Source: Gardenista
Weathered wood fence and gate Source: Gardenista

The versatility of wood means that you can create just about anything you want, from fencing, pergolas, glass houses etc to suit modern or natural gardens and the colour can blend with your interior or disappear into nature….

Painted wood cladding gives a sense of indoors/out to a small garden by Leopoldina Hayes
Painted wood cladding gives a sense of indoors/out to a small garden by Leopoldina Hayes
Black vertical timber wall source: deavita.fr
Black vertical timber wall gives a contemporary twist source: deavita.fr
Recycled Timber Fence
Recycled Timber Fence

I will be making a shady corner in my garden and am very inspired by this…..

Eco Pergola Idea source: Elle Decor
Eco Pergola Idea
source: Elle Decor

… and I would love one of these to help my non hardy plants in pots survive a Swiss winter – FSC of course! 

Forest Garden FSC Glass House
Forest Garden FSC Glass House
Forest Garden FSC Glass House from greenfingers.com
Forest Garden FSC Glass House from greenfingers.com

Willow and wicker is a great natural and sustainable option (grows quickly and locally found) and gives a lovely texture to your garden, it also allows the light to filter casting interesting shadows. It is hardwearing and requires no maintenance. 

Willow Fence by flechtart.ch
Willow Fence by flechtart.ch
Willow support structure for climbers
Willow support structure for climbers
Terra Willow Panels from greenfingers.com
Terra Willow Panels from greenfingers.com
Wicker raised vegetable beds by Daylesford Organics/The Chelsea Flower Show 2009
Wicker raised vegetable beds by Daylesford Organics/The Chelsea Flower Show 2009

Containers of all sorts can be repurposed, the trick is to keep it simple and not mix too much otherwise you might end up feeling like you are sitting in a junk yard! 

Old zinc tub used as large planter at Petersham Nurseries in Surrey, England
Old zinc tub used as large planter at Petersham Nurseries in Surrey, England
Recycled crate source: petershamnurseries.com
Recycled crate source: petershamnurseries.com
vintage french mushroom baskets from petershamnurseries.com
vintage french mushroom baskets from petershamnurseries.com
Old birdcage used as planter for flowers. source:decorating mamma.com
Old birdcage used as planter for flowers. source:decorating mamma.com

Garden furniture is widely available in FSC woods and can also be reclaimed. Once you start looking you can find…… the wood is likely to be better quality also and last a lot longer so justifies a slight premium on price….

FSC Arbour from greenfingers.com
FSC Arbour from greenfingers.com
FSC Acacia Garden Bench from greenfingers.com
FSC Acacia Garden Bench from greenfingers.com
Reclaimed Garden Furniture from rikstorms.com
Reclaimed Garden Furniture from rikstorms.com

Gates and railings can be found in salvage yards.

Reclaimed Garden Fencing/Gates from burbri.nl
Reclaimed Garden Fencing/Gates from burbri.nl

You might find some interesting ways to recycle – just use your imagination! 

Old Iron Headboard used as garden gate
Old Iron Headboard used as garden gate

Antique terracotta chimney pots look wonderful as plant pots, bird baths or just sculptures in their own right! 

Antique chimney pot
Antique chimney pot

I hope I might have inspired you to look for some interesting ways to make your outside space beautiful and tap into the wonderful eco resources all around us!

Thanks for reading and feel free to share!

Amanda x 

Author: Amanda Jacober

I am and interior designer sharing tips and inspiration on how to create your dream home and garden using authentic materials and sustainable practices

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2 thoughts on “Eco Garden Design Part 2”

  1. Excellent and very interesting tips .
    Some very good ideas which I hope to put to use in due course.
    Keep up this very interesting blog !

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