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Recycling a Garden

Here's how Craig Rognholt reinvented his Minneapolis garden.

Craig Rognholt sits at one of his water gardens. The garden is "an orphanage of recycled goods." The structures, a garden shed, arbor and pergola were made from lumber recycled from theatrical sets, the pavers that edge the lawn are from a neighbor's garage, and a stone walkway was made from pulverized sidewalk. The garden also includes water gardens, raised beds and a terraced, front-yard area. (SHNS photo by Tom Wallace /Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune)

Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

  • Garden in raised beds: They are compact, easier to tend and add dimension to a garden.

  • Plan your layout: Although an intuitive gardener, Rognholt labored over the layout. He used a garden hose to simulate the pathways and stones to indicate the size, shape and location of the garden beds.

  • Don't force it: Choose the right plant for the right place. If a plant doesn't thrive, don't fuss over it. Move it or give it away. "You can want that plant to grow right next to your back door, but it may not be the right soil or sun," he said.

  • Throw them a curve: A garden should reflect nature. So, instead of straight lines and sharp turns, create beds and pathways that have natural, graceful curves.

  • Go for it: Rognholt has no formal training as a carpenter. Still, he built an arbor, pergola and garden shed. "Every project, I look at as a chance to learn something new," he said. "I just do it. Sometimes I have to rip it out."

  • Always be alert: Rognholt is always on the lookout for fabulous finds to use in the garden. His advice? Go to garage sales. Walk the alleys. "Keep your eyes and your mind open. Something will fall into your lap."

  • Rehearse: "You might not get exactly what you want, so don't be afraid of using rehearsal props until the right thing comes along."

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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