Some outdoor areas are enjoying a little extra sparkle — with assistance from old beer bottles and other recyclables used as landscape glass. 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 repurposed glass is formed by grinding various types of recycled glass. Sometimes referred to as “glass mulch,” the pebbles are tumbled to round off sharp edges. They are sold as “glass pebbles” at some landscape shops around the nation, and via online retailers. Depending on the supplier, glass pebbles are available in an assortment of hues.
ASG Glass in Utah produces recycled landscape glass in a wide variety of individual colors and blends. Some are the natural color of the bottle or window being recycled and others feature added pigment, according to ASG Glass President Berkeley Booth.
Not Just for Your Backyard
The array of available colors allows gardeners to create beautiful customized designs. For example, a football team ordered a truckload of green and white glass to place a sparkling team logo on the ground near its stadium.
Blue hues featuring soft sea tones and clear pieces can be used to lay out a faux stream or pond to highlight a landscape. Darla Senter shares glass landscape ideas on her Pinterest page, where you’ll find dozens of ideas.
The creative possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
Cost and Benefit
The price of the ASG Glass products depends on the color and quantity. Twenty-five-pound bags of tumbled landscape glass are between $57.75 and $105.50. You’ll need about seven pounds of glass per square foot.
Andela Glass Systems, a manufacturer of glass recycling equipment, touts the benefits of using recycled glass aggregate for landscaping:
- Reduces glass waste in landfills
- Adds unique color and glimmer to surfaces
- Enhances filtration within soil
- Does not break down or rot as natural aggregates do
- Repels insects and weeds for ease of maintenance year over year
A website offering gardening guidance, Gardening Know How explains that tumbled landscaping glass jas no sharp edges, so it’s useful for pathways, fire pits, and rock gardens with “plants that tolerate rocky, sandy soil.” They suggest using landscape cloth under the glass so it doesn’t work its way into the soil.
An Artistic Touch
Charlie Nardozzi, a nationally recognized gardening writer, said he regards glass pebble 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, Gardening Know How notes that some city recycling facilities or Department of Environmental Quality locations may offer recycled glass free of charge. But don’t expect a wide range of colors and sizes.
Originally published on February 9, 2009, this article, was updated in September 2022.