How to reuse old pillows in the garden – 7 genius ways to repurpose yours

Don't throw your old pillows away! Instead, set them to work in your garden...

Benches with red pillows, next to herbs and flowers cultivated in balcony garden
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you prefer yours firm or fluffy, it can be tricky figuring out how to dispose of old pillows. That's why it's such good news, then, that you can reuse old pillows in the garden!

One of our favourite budget garden ideas, there are, of course, some caveats to using even the very best pillows outdoors – and a lot of that has to do with what your pillows are made from.

That's right: just as you have to take some time doing your research on how to reuse an old mattress in the garden, the same is true of pillows. So, if you're planning on opening yours up and using them in the garden, you need to first make sure they're filled with natural, biodegradable fillings like cotton, wool, or feathers.

How to reuse old pillows in the garden

You might find it difficult to believe that a pillow (and an old pillow at that) can be the secret to bringing some of your favourite garden ideas to life, but you'd be wrong.

There are plenty of genius ways to reuse old pillows in the garden – so long as you're willing to embrace a little out-of-the-box thinking!

From enhancing your flower beds to mulching, to fun upcycling ideas for the garden, here's how to put your pillow to work in the great outdoors...

1. Enrich the soil

Raised beds filled with vegetables sitting beside a greenhouse

(Image credit: Alamy)

Soil enrichment is one of the most important things you can do to improve the health of your garden – and, yes, you can use your old pillows to achieve this.

'Tearing open your old pillows and mixing their natural fillings into your garden borders and raised beds can significantly enhance soil quality,' says Steven Bell, the CEO of Paving Shopper.

Steven Bell
Steven Bell

Steven Bell is the managing director of Paving Shopper, known for his expertise in gardening, landscaping and paving. He leads the company with a focus on quality and innovation, ensuring Paving Shopper remains a trusted source for diverse paving needs.'

Steven notes that this is a simple yet effective way to recycle old pillows, not to mention gift your plants the organic matter that they love. 

'Just make sure the material is free from synthetic fibers, which won't break down in the soil,' he adds firmly.

2. Try decorative mulching

That's right: you can reuse the stuffing from old pillows as a decorative mulch around your garden plants, and help retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and add a unique aesthetic to garden beds in the process.

'Repurposing pillow stuffing as mulch not only gives your garden a distinctive look but also plays a crucial role in maintaining plant health by retaining moisture and suppressing weed growth,' says James Chapman, DIY enthusiast and director of Bella Bathrooms.

James Chapman
James Chapman

As a City & Guilds qualified plumber since 1998, James Chapman brings over two decades of home improvement experience as the owner and director of Bella Bathrooms. His passion outside work includes outdoor adventures and DIY projects. 

3. Craft cushions for your outdoor furniture

Black wrought iron bistro set on decking

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

Even the very best garden furniture can use a little accessorising – especially if doing so can ramp up the comfort levels!

'You can reuse old pillows in the garden by upcycling them into new or additional fillers for your outdoor pillows and cushions and floor cushions,' says Hana Leonard from Secret of the Garden, who showcased the beauty of recycled materials in her award-winning RHS Hampton Court Show Garden.

All you have to do, she says, is take the stuffing out of your pillows to make this happen.

'Alternatively, you can just add or make a new waterproof or water-repellent covers for your old pillows, and voila! Out they go,' she finishes.

4. Make plant support structures

That's right:  if you're working with pillows that boast firmer fillings or foam, consider cutting and shaping them into support structures for plants. These can be used to prop up leaning plants or as soft ties for climbers.

'With a bit of ingenuity, those firmer pillows can be converted into support structures that are gentle on your plants,' says James. 

'It's about seeing potential in what you already have and using it to enhance your garden's functionality and beauty.'

5. Create garden comfort enhancers

A vegetable patch in the garden with a basket full of veg

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Have you ever considered buying a kneeling pad at some point? You'll be pleased to learn, then, that our experts say you can save money and reuse old pillows to boost your comfort levels when you're out doing jobs in the garden in February.

'If you cover them with waterproof, UV-resistant fabric, you can transform old pillows into kneeling pads,' says Hana.

'The essence of gardening is not just in the plants we grow but in the creativity and care we put into the process,' agrees James. 

'Repurposing old pillows into gardening aids is a testament to that creativity, blending functionality with care for the environment and ourselves.'

6. Boost your rain harvesting abilities

Rain harvesting is one of the most important hacks any gardener can master and can also reuse old pillows in the garden as water conservation aids.

Pillows with absorbent materials can be placed in the bottom of planters or beneath soil layers to help retain water, which is especially useful in dryer climates or during hot spells.

'Incorporating absorbent materials from old pillows into your planters is a smart move for water conservation,' says James. 

'It's a practical solution that underscores the importance of sustainability in gardening practices. Every drop saved counts!'

7. Improve insulation

A blooming garden with a greenhouse

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

If you want to elevate your greenhouse or summer house ideas, don't throw out your old pillows!

'You can use the stuffing as insulation between your summer house or studio’s  external and internal walls,' says Hana. 

'Alternatively, you can use them as insulation/cover around your greenhouse – which is a must for anyone hoping to protect your plants from frost.'


What is the best thing to do with old pillows?

Whether you prefer to turn them into floor cushions, make them into pet beds, create ergonomic gardening tools, or even use the stuffing as a soil enhancer, there are plenty of ways to reuse old pillows in the garden.

'Highlighting the dual purpose of aesthetics and functionality in modern garden design, James adds that you should 'be creative and think outside the box' with your old pillows.

'Even the most mundane items can be transformed into something beneficial for your garden,' he says.

How do I dispose of old pillows UK?

They're harder to recycle than most household items, but there are options available to you if it's time for a new pillow.

If your old pillows are in good condition, for starters, you might consider donating them to a local homeless shelter or animal charity. If they're too worn out, you can recycle them or repurpose them for use around your garden.

Finally, if your pillow is feather or down-filled, then you can absolutely use this biodegradable stuffing to make compost. Just be sure to add plenty of brown material (like spoiled hay or eggshells) to ensure you get the best results!

Can you use old pillows in the garden?

Again, we have to stress that you should only consider reusing your old pillows in the garden if they are made from biodegradable materials such as natural cotton, feathers, or down.

'There's only so much artificial plastic fabric stuff you can or should use outdoors,' says Hana. 

'Local wildlife will probably try to use it as their bedding if you just leave it out, but it's likely not good for them unless your pillow is crafted from biodegradable materials.'

On that note, the RSPB community has noted that many birds like to use feathers or down from pillows in their nesting boxes – ideal for this time of year!

So, have any of these easy garden ideas inspired you to reuse your old pillows in the great outdoors? We hope so – especially if it means you're giving your soil, plants, or local wildlife a helping hand in the process.

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.