by Shirley Jo and John Kelley Master Gardeners
When we say “junk yard gardening” we really mean using things that might end up in the dumpster, garage sale, landfill, or maybe the junkyard.
We had an abundance of tree stumps that had to be disposed of, so instead of taking them to the landfill or burning them, we picked an odd space in the backyard and marked out an area for a “junk bed”. After planting the stumps upright in an oval design we placed an old railroad cart that was headed to the scrap yard in the center of the bed. We planted two old wash tubs with native and adaptable plant material, placed those in the center of the cart, planted native plants between the cart and stumps, and added native mulch. This bed was very inexpensive, the cost of gas and landfill rates covered the price of plant material, and the mulch is free from the time machine on 42nd . St. Everything else was “junk”.
Having junk on your mind, you begin to be on the lookout for different ideas where things can be used and enjoyed in your landscape. One bed caught my eye that was totally xeriscaped using Thompson yucca, black foot daisy, hesperaloe yucca, and a rusty three point plow with new gold lantana planted around and in between the plow points. The bed was boarded with lueder rocks and top dressed with native mulch. This might not be to everyone’s taste but it was surely a low maintenance bed.
We’re really not sure how we feel about the old purple bicycle with double wire baskets over the back tire. It was placed under the vitex which is listed as a large shrub or small tree. A lovely conversation area might be created by planting Red geraniums in the basket, autumn sage around the front tire and bronze leaf cannas behind the vitex.
Old wooden chairs painted bright colors can fill in blank spaces in flower beds. The seat can be replaced with chicken wire and planted or a planted pot can be set on the seat. The good thing about this is that during the winter you still have color while in the spring it can contrast with your established plant material. Don’t worry about having to hand water the plants in the chair; you can always add emitters to water when your irrigation system comes on. Emitters can be easily installed by connecting them to your drip irrigation or bubblers with adapters and tubing.
Wooden wagon wheels aren’t really considered “junk” to antique dealers since they have been very popular in the last few years. You can find them in wood and also metal. They can be used to add interest to most any area. You can use fencing, cedar staves, or drive in posts to mount your yard art.
Xeriscaping is not “O”scaping. It is using low water, low maintenance, adapted, and native plants in your landscaping. When choosing the right plants you can have color, attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Everyone has” junk mail” and we have a solution for that and cardboard, clippings, trigs, leaves, rocks, and kitchen scraps except for meat and dairy products. It is called a “Keyhole” garden. This is an excellent way to dispose of all of these products and give you something in return for your labor. Keyhole gardens are about three feet tall and only take up about a 6 foot by 6 foot area. They are low maintenance and use very little water. You can get more information by contacting the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension service Office in Odessa at (432)498-4071 and Midland at (432)686-4700.