How to Recycle, Repurpose and Reuse in Your Outdoor Spaces

This house is small but the living space is large with the addition of outdoor rooms. A sleeping porch and an arbor outfitted with mix-matched chairs, gliders, and tables accommodates large gatherings. (Photos by Bob Farley)

Thingamajigs, whatchamacallits, and doohickeys make up the garden art at the home of Jo Anna Cassady and Kelly Davis. Discarded objects become treasures with the application of the couple’s creativity and ingenuity. Every time I visit their green acres on top of Pine Mountain in Blount County, Alabama, I see things I haven’t seen before. Their resourcefulness and the keen style in which they adorn their place, inside and out, inspires me.

Too much stuff gets thrown away these days, and with growing populations in the world today, it makes me wonder: Where in the heck are we going to put all of that stuff? Repurposing what others throw away is a great way to take a little responsibility for that worrisome problem. Kelly doesn’t journey into town very often, but when he does, he keeps an eye out for objects that he might want to confiscate and use for later. “Don’t ever throw away the interesting things until you figure out what you can make out of it,” Davis says. “Of course, you may have to build an extra barn just to hold all of what you keep.”

Jo Anna, an interior designer, has a knack for finding the perfect place for each object. She gives this advice: “Consider the setting, the neighborhood, and the collection you want to display, and be sensitive to where you live. Since we live in a rural area, I am delighted to have this outlet for creativity and the ability to share it with others in our garden.”

The deck of the guest cottage is outfitted with finds from old department store demolitions.

Davis calls this creation a “fiddler.” He explains: “You know, when you are just fiddling around and you find something, you might want to make a hangy thing out of it.”

See more repurposed outdoor creations from the Cassady and Davis home in this photo gallery, then find more ideas in the upcycling section of

One Response

  1. Jo Anna says:

    His name was oficially Mississippi Mudpie because of the dessert with chocolate and marshmallows…but we just called him Mr. Mud. He was a sweetheart. You could always count on him to let Kelly know when the food bowl was empty.


About Michelle Reynolds 


I’m a slipcover maker who refuses to fill the trash with the cutaway bits of designer fabrics, so I strive to make use of every scrap. I live with my ...

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