Polystyrene – an uncommon green-fingered ally

It’s probably safe to say that when you hear the word ‘polystyrene’ the last picture you imagine would be one of green fingers and anything to do with nature.

Polystyrene is not a material necessarily linked with the environment or the garden and when you think about its benefits you’d be more inclined to favour its protective qualities in providing a cushion for your latest Amazon purchase.


Polystyrene – your plants’ next best friend

We kid you not. Polystyrene is actually a cost effective alternative to pebbles and gravel for plant pot drainage.

We wouldn’t recommend using it when growing potted peppers or mint, or anything edible for that matter, just in case.

Before you pot a plant for the first time or when repotting, place a layer of small polystyrene chunks at the bottom of the pot, fill with soil and plant your flora as normal. Be careful not to use too much because there still needs to be some level of equilibrium – a top-heavy plant is no good to anyone when it starts to lean.

This method is particularly useful if your plants are large or the pots are bulky because the difference in weight between pebbles and polystyrene is actually quite a lot. Think of your back and practice positive weight-lifting techniques.

A hidden friend in the flowerbed

Moulded polystyrene trays or deep food packaging containers can be repurposed for DIY raised flowerbeds in your back garden.

Depending on the size of the trays or where you want your flowers to bloom you may need to devise some way of concealing the colour of the polystyrene by painting or covering it in some way. Carefully choosing a tumbling variety of flower will allow them to grow and cascade over the edges of the polystyrene.

Some trays will come prepared with their own ‘mini drainage’ system in the form of manufactured precision holes, especially if its original purpose was to package something that needed aerating. Failing that, use a small sharp object to prick a few holes at the bottom.

More surprising uses of polystyrene

We hope this short article has made for an interesting five-minute read. Please stay tuned for more surprising uses of polystyrene over the next few weeks.

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