A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Bottles in the Garden

You may think I am joking, but I drink for my garden. Not heavily mind you, but I raise a toast to the benefit of my plants. Then I save my beer or wine bottle for a bit of recycling that you may not have considered.

Being a Texas German who loves to explore old homes, particularly ones from my community, I came across a unique garden edging that was common among the Germans here. The tradition started in Germany, and you may find it still practiced in some gardens there, but there are a few of us here who carry on this recycling trick. There are two uses for a beer bottle once you are finished with it: garden edging and snail trap. Garden edging, you gasp. Yes. Here in Texas, we mainly use bottles from Shiner beer. You will find historic homes with this edging throughout the German belt of the state. I clean the labels off of the bottles by soaking them in water. I have used other bottles to create designed looks. Square bottles every so often create a visual break, but I have also used bottles of different colors for patterns (three green with two brown). Beer bottles are not the only ones to use. I replace broken bottles with new ones, but no one has been hurt, if you have this fear. My children have played around this edging all of their lives. For a snail trap, simply leave a pool of beer for the snails to drown in. I pick up the bottles every couple of days when I do use this system, to throw them away. Alright, maybe I should recycle the glass, but I do not know of an easy way to remove all of the snails.

I have used the wine bottles as edging too. I find that bottles from Becker, Messina Hof, or Llano work well. Any bottle will do, but why not plug some Texas wine. A more interesting use for the bottles comes from the African American community though. A tradition brought over from Africa used bottles to scare away or capture evil spirits by hanging the bottles from trees or poles. Now the tradition lives on as an art form. I am in the process of making a bottle flower. An old pole stuck in the ground has green bottles hanging down. Blue bottles are being placed up as a flower.

You never know what might work as a garden edging. You will be surprised how elegant some of these edgings can look when you put in a little effort into the design. You can even be creative with some art projects for the garden. I made bottle neck flies from wine bottles for a wall decoration.

Your Houston home inspector,

Frank Schulte-Ladbeck



  Amy wrote @

That is a super good idea, it seems such a waste just sending them to be recycled and then neevr really seeing them again, lush idea, I deffo will do that, bring the idea here to Wales in the UK!! DIOLCH!

  frankschulteladbeck wrote @

I am glad that I could introduce this to you. My city has stopped excepting glass in its curbside recycling program, and I have not found a nearby center for my glass, so this has been a good way to keep them out of landfills. Thanks for dropping in!

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