Recycling Tips: What To Do With Garden-Related Garbage

Recycling Tips: What To Do With Garden-Related Garbage

  • Editor’s Note: This article is written by Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. Got a question or idea for a recycling tip? Contact Jarland at 630-208-3841 or

Most commonly spoken statement these days: “Yay, spring is here!”

Most common response: “FINALLY!”

Second most common topic after the weather: Gardening!!!

We are all getting busy in the garden, planting flowers and foods; fingers in the soil, eye’s on the prize. But what about all that plastic — pots and trays, ID tags and mulch bags? Containers from fertilizers? Holey hoses, and paper packets from seeds?

And how did I get so many extra hand trowels?

Plastic (Pots, Trays, Tags)

All Lowe’s Garden Centers will take plastic containers, including pots, hanging baskets and trays, as well as the little ID tags!

Curbside recycling programs are unable to accept these plastic plant containers. But there is a recycling solution! Lowe’s provides a recycling cart near each garden center checkout area for customers to return plastic plant trays, pots and ID tags, regardless of condition.

No matter where you purchased the plant, you can return the plastic items to a Lowe’s Garden Center to be recycled.

Once you drop off the plastic items, they are collected and sorted. If they are reusable, they are sterilized and reused for new plants. If they are cracked or broken, then they are shredded and sent to a plastics re-manufacturer and recycled.

See here for a full article on this topic.

Mulch And Soil Bags

Plastic bags from soil, mulch, sand, seeds, dry fertilizers or animal feed are not recyclable in your curbside recycling program. And they are not clean enough for the grocery store plastic bag and film recycling program, so they should not go in there. The best advice I have for these is to reuse them if possible. Here are some ideas.

I reuse mine for storing leaves in the fall for adding to my spring compost. In the fall, I rake the dry leaves and place in the bags and stack them in the corner of my garage until spring.

It is important that the leaves are mostly dry when you place them in the bag; also poke a few small holes in the bag to create ventilation.

In the spring, when I start composting my food scraps again, I use the carbon-containing leaves (dry material) to mix in with the high nitrogen-containing food scraps (wet material), for a happy active compost. (I use the Soil Saver bins for my compost, of which I have two – one for filling and one for resting and breaking down.)

The plastic bags from garden products can also be reused in place of your garbage bags in order to “reuse” them at least once more.

Or get crafty!

Terracycle offers a recycling solution for garden bags as well as any other garden-related waste products. See this link for more information on the mail in program they have available.

Fertilizer Containers

Hard plastic bottles and jugs that contained liquid fertilizer (or even pesticides … which hopefully you are using sparingly if at all) are recyclable in your curbside recycling program!

Once the container is empty, triple rinse it by adding a little water, shaking and applying to the area that you originally put the product on. Then empty completely, replace the cap and put it in the recycling bin.


Unfortunately holey hoses are trash. Throw your old garden hose in the trash, NOT the recycling.

Placing items like garden hoses, dog leashes, chains, ropes and other “tanglers” in the recycling causes extensive damage to the recycling sorting equipment.

So it is that or again if you are the crafty sort, here are some ideas to get you started on some creative reuse projects for hoses.

Seed Packets

Most seed packets are made out of recyclable paper. Please place in your curbside recycling bin.

You could also save them for reuse. They can be used for collage art or even reused to package the seeds you collect from your plants in the fall. I’ve also seen them laminated and stapled to sticks to mark the rows.

And I found this cool DIY seed packet matching game online while I was doing my research for this article.

Garden Tools — Donate Them!

We will be accepting garden tools and hand tools in good reusable condition at our Annual Recycling Extravaganza on Saturday, July 14, 2018.

If you find you have extras that you don’t use or need, please bring them to the event where we are collecting them for the local non-profit gardening group, The Garden Works Project, whose members redistribute them to community gardens!

They are looking for donations of small hand tools; garden tools like shovels, iron rakes and hoes.

NO containers, wire cages, hoses or fencing, please.

Share Your Great Ideas

I know that you are all bursting with ideas by this point, so please email me with your great suggestions, and I’ll put together a follow up to this article and share everyone’s super reuse and recycling solutions with my readers!

  • Contact Jarland at 630-208-3841 or

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