Some outdoor naturescapes are enjoying a little extra sparkle - with assistance from old beer bottles and other recyclables. Bits of repurposed glass, in jewel-like nuggets, provide a decorative accent at the base of hedges, potted greens and other types of landscaping.
The product, formed by grinding various types of recycled glass, is sold at some landscape shops around the nation, and also via online retailers. In Austin, Texas, the solid waste department gives the stuff away for free.
Depending on the supplier, the glass pebbles are available in an assortment of hues. Also, the product, sometimes referred to as "glass mulch," is tumbled to round out sharp edges.
ASG Glass in Utah produces landscape glass in a wide variety of individual colors and blends. Some are the natural color of the bottle or window being recycled, others feature added pigment, according to ASG Glass president Berkeley Booth.
Not Just for Your Backyard
The array of colors allows gardeners flexibility for customized designs. A football team ordered a truckload of green and white glass, which probably will be used as a team logo, Booth said. He also noted that often, blue hues (such as the Caribbean mix, featuring soft sea tones and clear pieces) are used to form a faux stream or pond that winds along a portion of the landscape.
At a flower show, someone created a diamond design with pink glass, and an art center in Arizona created a striking look for cactus planters by lining each one with a different color of glass.
The price for the ASG Glass products depends on the color and quantity. The 25-pound bags, for example, are between $20 and $108. Usually, about seven pounds of glass is needed per square foot.
Online supplier is EnvrioGLAS, in Plano, Texas touts another environmental benefit of the recycled product. “Glass mulch does not absorb water like wood mulch, so the water goes where it is intended – into the plants – and even less water is used." Most of its products are sold in 50-pound bags for around $35.
Charlie Nardozzi, senior horticulturist for the National Garden Association in Vermont, said he regards the product as primarily a decorative feature. Unlike organic mulch, glass doesn’t break down and fertilize the soil. He said he’s not sure if it offers other mulch functions, such as keeping the soil cool and moist. It does, however, offer an interesting aesthetic value.
“It’s really kind of cool,’’ he said. “It’s really more of an artistic expression.”
For those who want to express their artistic personality through glass mulch for free, the city of Austin gives away crushed glass at its landfill. Of course, the pallet is a bit more limited. The city of Austin’s decorative glass is a blend of the containers they collect - clear, brown and green.