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Supported by Generation Green

Trashing the landscape

Turn trash into treasure by using recycled materials to create green spaces in your local area.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Gardening tools
  • Gardening gloves
  • Access to water
  • Permanent markers
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Watering can
  • Gravel or stones
  • Peat-free compost
  • Seeds or plants
  • Equipment and items specific to your chosen project

Before you begin

  • Ask the group to save items that might be suitable for transforming into a recycled green space, such as old furniture, bicycle wheels or glass bottles.
  • Decide on a location for your recycled green space. Remember to get permission for the location you choose.
  • Plan out your recycled green space and source the equipment needed to create it, which will be specific to your chosen project.

Safety checklist

Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional coronavirus-related controls to think about may include:

  • Setting up a hand washing station that you can use throughout the session.
  • Washing hands before and after using any shared equipment and after handling earth.
  • Cleaning any shared equipment before and after use.
  • Reminding everyone to stay a safe distance apart at all times.

Get ready to plant

  1. Everyone should discuss what plants need to grow: light, water, and nutrients (usually from soil).
  2. The person leading the activity should explain that you don’t need acres of green space to grow things. It’s easy to take items that would have been thrown in the bin and turn them into homes for plants.
  3. Everyone should think about the kind of green space they could create using the materials they have. We’ve suggested some projects, but you can be as a creative as you like!

You will need

  • A grassy area
  • Large glass bottles
  • Shovel
  • Rope, string or a garden hose
  • Bricks (optional)

You will need

  • An old chest of drawers
  • Something to protect surfaces, for example a tarpaulin or newspaper
  • Bricks
  • Garden paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • A drill
  • Hessian sheets
  • Scissors

You will need

  • A grassy area
  • Old bicycle wheels
  • Something to protect surfaces, for example a tarpaulin or newspaper
  • Access to water
  • Dish soap
  • Cloths
  • Bricks
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • A drill
  • Nuts
  • Bolts
  • Shovel
  • Wooden posts
  • Hammer and nails

Keep up the care

  • Once your garden is planted, you’ll need to plan times when you can visit to ensure it is well fed and watered, and any fruit or vegetables are harvested.
  • Have a look at the RHS’s plant care advice and work out the specific things your plant needs to grow happily.

Reflection

This activity was all about valuing the outdoors by creating a space for plants, and helping the community by stopping unwanted items from being sent to landfill or becoming litter. Did the group enjoy turning trash into treasure? What other things that often end up in the bin could you use for creating green spaces? Do the group think they’ll be able to take good care of the plants in their recycled planters? How will the planter help their local environment? Think about encouraging wildlife (including bugs) to the area and making it a greener place for everyone to enjoy.

Safety

All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Gardening and nature

Everyone must wash their hands after the activity has finished. Wear gloves if needed. Explain how to safely use equipment and set clear boundaries so everyone knows what’s allowed.

Rubbish and recycling

All items should be clean and suitable for this activity.

Scissors

Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Glue and solvents

Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using glue and solvent products. Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation. Be aware of any medical conditions which could be affected by glue or solvent use and make adjustments as needed.

Hand and electric tools
  • Inspect tools for any damage before each use. An adult should supervise people using tools, and people should follow instructions on how to use them correctly and safely. Tools should be properly maintained and kept sharp.
  • Use an appropriate surface and make sure materials are stable and supported when you’re working on them. You should cut and drill away from the body and in an area clear of other people.
  • Be extra cautious of trailing cables and water when using electric tools; use a cordless tool if one’s available.