Recycle Wine Bottles with a Garden Border

It’s easy to recycle wine bottles in the garden. I pondered about the best way to combine two things that I enjoy… gardening and wine. Creating a garden border with the empty bottles is a great way to recycle and create a unique visual accent.

A wine bottle garden border

My wife and I share a bottle of wine on our Friday date nights and I save the bottles. The empties multiplied in boxes stowed in a shed while I decided on the best way to recycle them and after a few years the wine bottles needed to be used before we were overrun by glass. Many bottles can make a long garden border and I have a big garden.

A wine bottle border is long-lasting, colorful, distinctive, sturdy, and can even repel gophers and moles (more on that in a minute).

The process is easy: dig a hole and put in the bottle. Digging a trench makes the process a little faster and more uniform as you place the bottles side by side. Digging individual holes adds a slightly more random look.

Bottles placed before digging

Wine bottles come in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. Depending on which wine you drink you may have many similar bottles or many different bottles. Wine bottle borders can reflect your personal tastes in wine and gardening. Using the same kind of bottles can make a border of consistent and vibrant color. A more eclectic design comes when you mix shapes, sizes, and colors.

There are no rules when creating recycled art in the garden. Burying the bottles with the bottle top in the hole and the bottle bottom above the soil allows the widest part of the bottle to define the border. Placing the bottles with the open end up creates a slender profile. Mixing the orientation combines both aspects.

Burying the wine bottles with the open end facing up can even repel burrowing creatures. The concept is that when wind blows over the bottle top it creates a tone, like the music from a jug band. This creates noise that vibrates through the soil. The theory is that this random annoyance repels animals sensitive to sound, namely gophers and moles. I’m not aware of any studies on wine bottles repelling animals, but the idea seems plausible.

My gopher-deterring border

I’ve buried hardware cloth beneath the fence around my garden in an effort to keep gophers out. If weird soil noises keep any brave gophers from exploring weaknesses in the buried metal fence, I’m all for it.

Removing the label beforehand makes for a cleaner look. Soak the bottle in water to loosen the label. Some labels only need a few minutes in water while others need hours. Some labels are plasticized and come off in one piece, others need to be scraped with a knife or thumbnail to remove the paper and glue. It’s not hard work but it may take a little time. I placed a number of bottles in a large bucket filled with water to hasten the process.

Bottles ready for soaking

When deciding on creating a wine bottle garden border keep in mind that the bottles are made of glass and broken glass is not a good soil amendment. Consider placing the bottles in an area that is not exposed to activities that could break them.

Spots that border the lawn and could interact with lawn mowers and trimmers pose possible breakage. Spots that border walkways raise potential of someone kicking or tripping over the bottles. Spots that border children’s play areas pose risk for the kids.

I’ve placed some of my bottles in a border around my perennial vegetable bed, the asparagus and rhubarb. That bed isn’t tilled and the soil isn’t disturbed so the bottles are safe from potential damage. It also sets that bed apart from the rest of the garden, defining its uniqueness.

My perennial bed border

Other bottles can be used to make a garden border, but they may be more susceptible to breakage. Wine bottles are thicker than most beverage containers and can handle great pressure. Beer bottles can look great as a border, but they’re made with much thinner glass and can break when exposed to sun, wind, and hail. Plastic bottles won’t hold up to weather and don’t look nearly as good either.

So if you have a lot of wine bottles or have the potential to collect a lot of wine bottles, consider making a garden border. You’ll probably be the first in your neighborhood to have one.


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