by Rebecca Rockefeller
Do you have a patio umbrella that’s just seen its last summer of functional use? If yours has lost its ability to open and close, or the panels are ripped or torn, you may be ready to cast it off in favor of a fresh one next time the sun shines on your patio table.
Before you toss yours in the trash, check with your friends and neighbors to see if there’s a flock of chickens who would like some shade. We’ve got the expression “madder than a wet hen” to remind us that chickens don’t particularly care for wet feathers, but many people don’t know that they also need shade on hot days. Your old patio umbrella might be just the thing to shade a chicken run, keeping the hens happy in the rain and shine.
Two years ago, we turned our worn out fabric and metal patio umbrella into an all-season shade over our chickens’ day run. It keeps our girls dry in the winter and cool in the summer, all of which means more eggs for us – Stressed and unhappy hens just don’t lay as much. We cut a small hole in the poultry wire roof of the run, then anchored the umbrella’s outer edge to the run in a couple of spots with tiny bungee cords. So far, the umbrella has held up through two years of wind storms, snow, ice, rain, and days of full-on sun.
If you’re in a chicken-free zone, look for other areas that might need shade or rain protection – Perhaps a sandbox, a kids’ fort, your worm bins…If you have other reuses for old patio umbrellas, please let us know!
And when your umbrella is well and truly beyond reuse, you can pitch it into the closest scrap metal dumpster. Check with your local transfer station or garbage collection service. Most patio umbrellas have a good deal of metal in them that can be melted down and reformed into something useful.
Do you have a creative reuse for umbrellas, patio or personal? Please let us know! We’d love to feature you and your ideas in another umbrella post.
And if you have a hankering for more reuse ideas for the birds, please visit our Trash Backwards app!