Documents: Special Interest: Gardening In England:

Reclaimed and Recycled Materials
by Alice Bowe
by Alice Bowe

Alice Bowe is an award winning English landscape and garden designer with particular expertise in sustainable landscape architecture and green garden design.

Alice writes regularly for The Times and The Garden Design Journal as well as running a successful Garden Design Studio ( and the garden accessory shop Garden Boutique (

Her contemporary garden designs and painterly planting schemes have been featured in numerous publication including: Gardens Illustrated, New York Spaces, The English Garden, Homes and Gardens, Eve Magazine and House Beautiful.

You can read her planting design blog at

You can read her green garden design blog at

October 12, 2008

Hints and tips for creating more eco-friendly and sustainable garden designs

Green garden design does not mean you have to compromise on good garden design. With so many reclaimed and recycled garden materials on offer, it is possible to create a beautiful and eco-friendly scheme.

Reclaimed landscaping materials may well cost more than new materials but they can give your new garden design a unique edge you won't find anywhere else. Remember that reclaimed brick, stone and timber will immediately give a scheme character and make a garden look established - as well as improving its green credentials.

I've always loved to use recycled stone in my garden designs. Combine them with other reclaimed materials such as tiles, paddlestones and reclaimed bricks and you'd think they had been there forever.

But there's more to recycling than just reclaimed paving. There are some great reclamation yards, many of which specialise in ‘Gardenalia’, where you can find great materials for your new garden design. There are some wonderful statues and urns to be had but also some classic garden elements such as rope top edging that will look town gardens and country estates.


For up to date information its best to look at websites, as they contain recently arrived stock and can save you a wasted visit. Garden Designers use some of these to find unique pieces.


Instead of using new gravel in your garden design, why not used recycled gravel or even crushed sea-shells!

Cockleshell and seashell aggregates are totally organic, and are made from re-cycled waste from the British Shellfish Industry. They have many uses in Landscape and garden design but are most commonly used as a gravel replacement for paths and driveways.

Crushed seashells can also be used very effectively as a mulch for planting beds or to top dress plant pots and containers. They have excellent water retention properties and even act as a natural snail repellent!

Other recycled aggregates for paths and mulches includes granulated CD’s

or recycled glass chips

both available from Specialist Aggregates

However, the most obvious way to recycle in the garden is to make your own compost. Fallen leaves can make wonderful nutritious leafmould and can be used as a garden mulch or dug into the soil. Traditional wooden compost bins are a must for the medium to large sized garden, whilst even a small garden courtyard can compost garden and kitchen waste using a bokashi bin system. Check out some of our composting solutions for large and small gardens at

With a moment to stop and think about where the landscaping materials for your new garden come from, you'll soon discover the benefits of sustainable garden design solutions are not just the green ones!

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