Enjoy the season's bounty and keep items from hitting the landfill.

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IF YOU’RE looking for a new way to enjoy flowers and plants this spring, try creating your own planters using salvaged materials. These alternatives keep items from hitting the landfill, and they provide a simple way to enjoy the season’s bounty.

To get started, visit the RE Store or another salvage shop and pick out your materials. Shown here are examples of items that are cheap and easy to find: concrete blocks, ceramic chimney flue tiles, wooden pallets and drain pipes. Even an old ceramic pot will do.

“I like finding several things in the salvage yard that you can gather together to create a quick and easy vertical element to your yard or patio,” said Bray Hayden, RE Store outreach, marketing and development manager who has planted rare geraniums and pansies in her improvised planters.

If your planters will rest directly on the ground, fill the flue tiles or concrete blocks with crushed pottery pieces. The pottery shards will allow water to drain from the bottom and will keep the soil from escaping. If you want your planters to rest on a deck or apartment balcony, put landscape fabric under the blocks so they don’t drip on the neighbors.

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Next, fill planters with potting soil or a favorite compost blend. When the concrete blocks and flue tiles are turned on their end, they are quite deep, which will allow the plants to put down roots. Plop in some beautiful annuals, fragrant herbs or succulents, water well and watch them grow. Avoid planting edibles in flue tiles, because if they have been used in chimneys, they might not be safe for edible plants.

For a detailed how-to on creating a pallet garden wall similar to this one, visit: http://bit.ly/gMek5g.

For sale: At the RE Store, chimney flue tiles, concrete blocks, drain pipes and other useful materials cost between $1 and $10. The plants in this display are on loan from Seattle Urban Farm Company and aren’t for sale with these planter materials.

Find it: The RE Store is at 1440 N.W. 52nd St. in Seattle. Online at www.re-store.org.

Michelle Ma is a Seattle-based freelance writer. She works for Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, Wash. Greg Gilbert is a Seattle Times staff photographer.

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