Gardening helps connect us to nature and restores us to peace as we watch our green spaces grow each year. As the seasons change in our gardens, it is inevitable that plants, especially herbaceous perennials, will need to be cleaned. In this article, Savana will tell you the top 5 ecological uses for used plants in the garden instead of putting them in the bin!

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No matter how big your garden is, plants will at some point wilt within a year and need to be removed. While shrubs and trees provide structure and height, herbaceous perennials (plants that fall to the ground each year) need to be cut down once they set seed. Usually, this task is done in late autumn or winter.

It may be tempting to just put the cuttings in the bin, or add them to your green bin for council recycling. However, there are other uses for your herbaceous perennials before they end up in the compost pile or green bin. By recycling garden waste, you are helping to close the garbage cycle. That means less garden waste ends up in landfill or ends up being broken down at recycling centers using electricity.

The less green stuff we need to send, the better for the environment as a whole. As ethical gardeners, we should always strive to reduce, reuse and recycle our gardens.

1. Collecting Seeds from Plants

Collecting seeds from herbaceous perennials is not only great fun, but a cost-effective way to propagate plants in the garden. By collecting seeds from plants, you can help expand your border or give seeds to friends to help them introduce a wider variety of pollen-rich plants to their gardens.

To collect seeds, wait until the herbaceous perennials start to become brittle. Then carefully remove the seed heads using a wire cutter. Stand them up so you don't scatter the seeds. Sometimes tying a paper bag around the seed heads and cutting them out will keep them from spilling.

Then shake the seeds into the palm of your hand or into a paper bag. You can then store these plants in a dry and cool place until you are ready to reseed them to propagate more plants!

By growing your own plants from seed, you can help expand your garden without spending more money on container grown plants. Seed sowing is again a great way to reduce our carbon footprint in the garden as it allows us to reduce the number of container grown plants that are usually imported from overseas.

2. Using Dried Plants in Floral Arrangements

While people often buy fresh cut flowers, there's nothing stopping you from using dried flowers in the same way. Once again helping you reduce spending at the florist and unnecessary carbon spending! Dried herbaceous perennials often have very interesting seed heads when germinated in the garden. Once the petals have dropped, the seed heads look almost alien and have a fascinating structure.

These waste plants make excellent cut flowers or floral arrangements before you recycle them into the compost heap. By using dried plants with seed heads in vases or arrangements, you can bring fall vibes into your home interior. Many times dried flowers have a unique and strange appearance that can give your florist an original look.

Considering how unusual they look, you can guarantee it will be a great conversation starter for tourists and friends alike.

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3. Making Eco Firelighters from Plants

Did you know that dried plants, like herbaceous perennials or branchy spring grasses, can be recycled as starters for a wood burner or fire pit? Why waste money on tinder when you can make your own and spend the extra money on more botanicals or gin? ! By creating your own lighter, you again reduce your carbon footprint and help reuse garden materials.

It's so easy to make a lighter from plants. Cut back any dry brown and brittle herbaceous perennials. Then fold them into smaller sections to fit the size of your log burner or fire pit. These are usually about 20 cm long.

Then tie them into bundles with string and store in a dry, rain-proof place. Usually under the porch behind the garage. Then use them to light the log burner when needed.

4. Improving Bug Hotels

If you have a bug hotel in your garden, planting shoots and prunings is a great addition at any time of year. Insect hotels are an important part of horticultural ecology because they encourage beneficial insects into our towns. This in turn helps pollinate crops, flowers and fruit, which means a more diverse and productive garden.

Recycling plants into bug hotels serves two main purposes:

  • Added material for overwintering insects and protection from harsh weather
  • Provides a food source for insects and their larvae

Cutting off used plants and stacking them in bud hotels helps increase the diversity of beneficial insects. It also adds a touch of green to your other plug-ins, helping them become focal points in the garden. Insects and reptiles can then use this material for shelter during the winter, or to use it for food.

Bug hotels are a great way to help urban gardens provide environments for all kinds of beneficial bugs and wildlife. If you have kids, building a bug hotel is a great way to get them involved in the garden from an early age.

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5. Composting cut back plants

Last but not least, we need to mulch the composted waste plants in the garden. Not only is making your own compost super easy, it's a great way to reduce garden waste without relying on bins or piles like landfills. Homemade compost is often called "black gold" in gardens and allotments because it helps to slowly feed plants throughout the gardening year.

Compost also helps improve soil texture, retains moisture, and when used as mulch, prevents weeds from encroaching on our flower beds or raised vegetable beds.

If you've tried all of the above, the final step is to build your own compost bin and start creating your own wonderful plant feed each year. The cut plant is rich in nitrogen and some carbon, which helps create an excellent peat-free compost,

As with all composts, you need a good balance of greens, or nitrogen, and browns, or carbon. Making your own compost bin couldn't be easier, and it's a great way to recycle plant waste from your garden. I made large junction boxes out of cheap and cheerful pallets. However, you can also use smaller bins or small piles of plant waste to create your own compost pile.

You can use an easy-to-remember mix of 50% green (nitrogen) and 50% brown (carbon) in your compost bin to make excellent compost in about 12-18 months. The more you turn your compost, the faster it breaks down. If your compost gets too muddy, it has too much green (nitrogen) to dry out, and when there's too much brown (carbon), it won't decompose. Therefore, the goal is to achieve a balanced mix.


By following the above 5 tips for recycling your garden plants, you can ensure that you can reuse almost all of your garden plant waste. Reduced carbon miles when it comes to bringing compost to the garden and removing waste from the property. It's better for the environment.

Another good idea is to team up with a neighbor if one of you has a compost bin. You can swap cuttings and plants to help use each other's space more efficiently. One neighbor can make compost, another can build a bug hotel or make leaf mold.

December 19, 2022

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