Paint Can planter

Garden Trends: Dumpster Style

If you haven’t figured it out from previous posts, I’m having a visceral and negative reaction to quaint upcycling. Please do not show me something else made out of pallets.  Yuck. A good dumpster dive involves a deep understanding of Wabi-sabi and the beauty of objects just as they are, not as we would like to pretend them to be. Dumpster Style uses objects just as they are found, with minimal intervention.

Paint Can planter
Tape is the only designer additive here
 image via Thea’s Mania

Of course Dumpster Style’s found objects (treasures?) can be used for another purpose, but the difference is, is that they maintain their original integrity. There is a romanticism in the purity of  these objects.  They don’t need to be masked, they can be used with minimal ‘design’ interference from well meaning and overly industrious upcyclers.

Tin Can shingles
Can bottom shingles
image via Pinterest

Somewhat nutty, the roof garden below clearly has respect for what the objects were in a thoughtful and stylized way.  Originally from Apartment Therapy, I shared this one on Leaflets back in July and it spurred a lot of discussion.

Dumpster Style Garden
Rooftop Dumpster Style Edible Garden
Image via Apartment Therapy

As for the Wabi-sabi, a quote from the very first page of Leonard Koren’s wonderful book Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers sums it up:

Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
It is a beauty of things modest and humble.
It is a beauty of things unconventional.

And sometimes it’s just all about the dumpster.  Artist Oliver Bishop-Young hasn’t changed much about this dumpster…or has he?

Dumpster planter Oliver-Bishop Young
Planted Dumpster Style
Dumpster Planter from artist Oliver Bishop-Young
 images via Oliver Bishop-Young

Click for more Dumpster Style on Pinterest.





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8 thoughts on “Garden Trends: Dumpster Style

  1. Quaint upcycling vs. found objects with minimal intervention…that can be a fine line, so I’ll try to ponder that in the background. I also gag at the cliches, no matter the media or context – and some of those need to be put in a dumpster, if they cannot be upcycled by better design!

  2. My personal new landscape trend : the wood chipper. For all those hideous wood pallets .
    I’m also considering a concrete crusher for the equally diasterous design that uses unreinforced concrete blocks as retaining wall planters. Personal injury attorneys must salivate when they see them. I know most engineers let out a loud fart hoping that the wall will quickly crumble before some kid or animal is injured playing around one. Upcycle gone bad.

  3. While I’ve occasionally seen something nice for the garden made from a pallet, I am really tired of seeing them made into interior furniture. (I would also love to see the end of food and drink served in jars.) Yes, let’s see a little downcycling on the quaint.

  4. THANK YOU! I so agree – enough with the pallets, already. Furthermore, if you’ve never actually dealt with one, they’re horrid to work with. This fact just adds to the teeth-on-edge feeling I get when I see photos of things made from them. (Frankly, they aren’t even worth burning, unless you’re having a bonfire, where you can just toss them on from the back of a truck.

  5. To each his own! I personally think pallets are a great item. Burning them is not good for the environment. Sorry you are turned off by them. I suggest you just scroll down beyond them. Some of us look forward to seeing new ways to use them. It takes much more skill to turn them into something useful and attractive than to keep the integrity of a soup can. I work with many different mediums for my creativity,and dumpster diving is fun, but I feel much more creative when working with free wood.

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