Once you get going, creating and maintaining your own garden is easier than it seems. While not all of us were born with a green thumb, there are plenty of tips and tricks to adopt to keep your garden strong and healthy. We gathered together an incredible list of gardening hacks using items that are most likely already in your home. Plastic forks, coffee filters, and banana peels are just a few things that will health improve your garden cheaply and easily. There's even a hack repurposing a wine bottle to keep your garden perfectly watered while you're out of town.
Make Hot Caps With Old Jugs
You can't predict the weather and sometimes a random night and morning of frost can take out your young plants. One hack to protect them uses an old milk or water jug. These are called "hot caps" and they give your plants protection while still letting in some air and sunlight.
Cut the bottom off the gallon-sized jug and place it over your plant. Remove the lid to allow ventilation. This easy hack keeps your plants at a warmer temperature during the times of the year when the weather is sporadic. Once the weather is warm, remove them.
Sprinkle Cinnamon On Your Seedlings
Plants are living things and just like humans, they're prone to diseases. A common disease for seedlings is called "damping off." It's when a white, furry fungus grows on the stems of the seedling and stops it from accepting the starting mix. This happens in super-humid environments which unfortunately can occur in greenhouses.
If you don't want to get rid of your greenhouse but want to stop "damping off" disease, sprinkle cinnamon on your plants. Cinnamon has natural anti-fungal qualities and as a bonus, it smells great!
Parents, Use This Diaper Hack!
If your tot no longer needs diapers, but you have a pack laying around, repurpose them with this gardening hack. Clearly, diapers retain moisture and this works with gardening, too. Before placing soil in a hanging planter, throw a diaper down.
The diaper will allow your plant to retain enough water without letting too much water drain out. This a great hack for plants that require more water, like iris, swamp sunflower, or cattail.
Keep Intruder Animals Out With Plastic Forks
One thing you have to worry about when growing a garden is all of the animals that will be drawn to it. Whether they're your pets or wildlife in your neighborhood, there's one hack that will make them think twice before trampling your nicely-planted garden in its early stages.
Simply take a box of plastic forks and stick the handle end down in the dirt. Space them out around the newly-planted seeds and sprouts until your plants get a bit taller and stronger. It should be enough to keep your dog from making themselves comfortable in the planter box.
Save Money On Soil With This Hack
Many gardeners make the mistake of buying planter boxes that are too big or deep. These planters require much more soil than a smaller box, and the cost can quickly add up! Save money on soil with this creative hack.
Simply take emptied old soda cans, and even your plastic plant pots, and use them to line the base of the planter box. These take up more space that you won't need to fill with oil, while still providing your plants with what it needs!
Keep Snails and Slugs Away From Your Garden With Eggshells
Another way to keep unwanted pests out of your garden is by throwing down some broken eggshells. Not all gardeners agree on this method, however, snails and slugs may be deterred by the sharp and different surface on the soil.
First, you'll want to rinse off the eggshells to get rid of the residue. Next, break the eggshells into fine, small pieces. Rather than mixing them into the soil, lay them on top of the surface.
Put Coffee Grounds In Your Compost
After you're done with your homemade coffee, repurpose your coffee grounds for your garden. When used correctly, coffee grounds contribute to your compost as a green material to mix in with brown material.
It's rich in nitrogen which helps fertilize your garden when mixed in with topsoil and other dry materials. If you're a coffee addict and have pounds of grounds, be sure to only add in a little bit at a time, as too much will overwhelm the compost mixture and prevent your plants from getting sufficient water.
Turn Plastic Storage Tubs Into A Tiny Greenhouse
How cute is this idea? Someone thought of this genius hack to create a tiny greenhouse. This is also a great way to reuse a plastic storage bin that you already have. Take your potted seedlings and space them throughout the plastic bin.
Clear bins are best, as they allow more light in. This little greenhouse also prevents soil from spilling on the floor, so it's great for inside an apartment or another small space.
Keep The Plants Watered For Days With Paper Towels
This is another useful gardening hack if you're going to be going out of town for a few days, or don't have time to water your plants. It's a cheap and easy technique that again, you can create using a common household item.
Fill a glass of water and place an end of a paper towel all the way to the bottom of the glass. then, take the other end of the paper towel and lay it on the soil. The water will transfer over and give your plants the light, consistent watering that it needs while you're out.
Old Muffin Tins Are The Perfect Hack
Muffin tins are a great solution for plotting out the grid of your garden before you get started. The cups are perfectly spaced to create wells for your seeds and plants. On semi-damp soil, press the tin into the ground.
You may need to dig each well a little deeper, but this will provide a solid layout. Make sure that you don't need your muffin tin in the kitchen any longer, as this will now become your garden muffin tin!
Citrus Peels Help Seedlings Grow
If you have lemons, oranges, or other citrus on hand (or in your backyard!) you can scoop out the fruit and use the peels to help your seedlings grow.
After scooping out the fruit, poke a couple of holes in the bottom to allow water to drain through. Then, fill it with soil and seeds. Once it starts growing, keep the seedlings and soil in the peel, and plant it directly into your garden. The peel will naturally compost and provide the plant with added nutrients.
Line Your Pots With Coffee Filters
Many households have coffee filters in their pantry- these are cheap and also can help out your plants if you're potting them. Sometimes when you water a potted plant, the water will all release out the bottom, when you wish the soil would absorb it more.
Prevent the water from draining too quickly by first lining the pot with a coffee filter. Then shovel in the dirt and set your plant. The filter will absorb the water while preventing the soil from clogging up the draining hole at the bottom of the pot.
Yes, Even Beer Can Help Your Garden!
Just like many of us humans, slugs and snails enjoy beer (the yeast, anyway). However, these lightweights can't handle too much and will drown in the stuff. This is good news if you're trying to get these pests out of your garden.
The hack goes like this: pour beer into a shallow tin and place it in a shallow hole in the ground, so slugs and snails are able to locate it and climb in. Check back later and see if any of them went for a swim in the beer by accident.
Wine Bottles Can Water Your Plants While You're Away
If you enjoy drinking wine and gardening, you're in luck! There's a hack that combines the two that will help water your garden while you're out of town on vacation. This is yet another hack that involves something you could easily find in your kitchen.
Rinse out the empty wine bottle, and fill it with water. When you're going to leave town, or don't have time to water your plants, stick the neck of the bottle into the soil. This will allow the water to slowly drip out to keep the plant hydrated.
Vinegar Can Help Kill Unwanted Weeds
Do you have any white vinegar in your cupboard? This product is often included in store-bought weed killers, but it provides enough punch to take out weeds on its own, too. Use this household item hack to get rid of the weeds around your yard.
White vinegar will suck the moisture out of the weed leaves and cause them to die. Just be extra careful when using this hack in your garden, as the substance will kill all leaves.
Create An All Natural Spray To Fight Off Insects
Here's a safe, all-natural way to create an insect repellent for your garden. Using a food processor, combine two heads of garlic and three cups of mint leaves. Then take the mixture and boil it with 12 cups of water and two teaspoons of dry cayenne pepper. Let it sit overnight.
The next day, strain the mixture and poor the liquid mix into spray bottles. This mixture is safe to spray on your plants, and the strong scent will deter insects from munching on your plants.
Herbs Can Help Deter Mosquitos
Mosquitos are another annoying pest that you'll find around your garden, but there's a hack to help keep them away from your plants. Gardeners have been creating a "mosquito control garden" that's filled with all of the things that mosquitos hate.
Plant citronella geranium, marigold 'lemon gem', lemongrass, catnip, ageratum 'artist purple' and lemon thyme all together in your garden. It will keep the mosquitos buzzing on to the next.
Create Your Own Storage For Garden Tools
Once you get going on a garden, you realize how many tools you've acquired in the process! It's common to lay all of these against the side of a garage or place them in a pile in the shed, but there's another way to make it easier on yourself when you need to reach for a certain shovel.
Reuse a wooden pallet and mount it on the side of a garage, shed, or fence. For a few bucks, you can purchase hooks to hang each of your garden tools in a way that's both helpful and decorative.
Hydrogen Peroxide Has a Secret Use
Hydrogen peroxide is another item you may have around your home that can benefit your garden. While it's helpful to prevent cuts from getting infected, it's also helpful in preventing your plants from getting root rot or fungal diseases. This also helps grow new sprouts.
Make sure that you're using a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Combine 32 parts water to one part hydrogen peroxide and spray it on your plants when you water them.
Use A Potato To Grow A Rose
Did you ever expect to use a simple little potato to grow something as beautiful as a rose? Believe it or not, they're the perfect conductor for growing a single stem! All you have to do is drill a hole in a basic yellow potato. You can use a knife or a nail to do so.
Then simply place a one-inch cut from the stem of a rose bush in the hole. Plant the entire potato and in a few months, you will have your own roses!
Another Star Compost Ingredient: Banana Peels
Another item to throw into your compost pile is bananas. They're loaded with calcium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphates, potassium, and sodium that all benefit your plants. You'll notice that some compost ingredients perform better than others, and bananas are one for the win.
The nutrients in banana peels absorb into the compost at a faster rate than other compost elements. If you cut the peels into smaller sizes, it will provide nutrients at an even faster rate. The trick with banana peels is that you don't want to bury them in the compost but throw them on top.
Cheap and Easy Watering Jugs
Reuse a milk or water jug and turn it into a watering can for your garden. Remove the cap, then either heat up a needle or lightly hammer a thin nail into it to create a grid of holes. You'll just want to make sure that there's enough to get a proper flow of water, without dumping it all out at once.
This hack works great for house plants that need a bit of water, or young plants and seedlings. Plus, you reuse the water jugs before recycling them, which is a win for the earth as well.
Use The Water From Cooking To Fertilize Plants
If you boil eggs or water on your stovetop, this is a great hack for you. After removing your food, and letting the water cool, you can reuse the water from cooking to help your garden grow.
The traces of foods and vegetables in the water will help fertilize your garden in a creative way. Plus, you're saving water, which is always a win. Use it all at once or place in a watering can (or homemade one!) for later use.
A Creative Hack to Kick Out the Weeds
It seems as though gardeners are always fighting against weeds. They're the pest that just keeps coming back for more and they're no fun to pull out of your garden.
Next time, before you lay down a layer of mulch, take your used newspapers and place them on the soil around your plants. This will smother the weeds while saving your plants. Then, place the mulch on top. Another hack that didn't cost you a dime!
Create Labels For Your Plants With Old Spoons
Here's another hack that involves old and used items from your kitchen. Old spoons can be turned into cute and creative markings for the plants in your garden. You can make these print and colorful or sweet and simple.
Hammer the spoon to flatten the head, then use craft paint to go over it. Then, take a Sharpie and label the spoon with the contents of your garden. Stick the handle part into the soil next to the plant's plot, and voila!
Cans Can Be Reused As Decorative Pots
Soda and iced tea cans can be used to create some cool and funky small pots for your indoor plants. Use a can opener to take the top off of an empty can. Careful, this can be sharp!
Poke holes in the bottom of the can to allow water to drain out. Then fill the can with your soil and plant. Who knew there were so many ways to reuse your kitchen and food items?
Add Honey to Plant Roots to Help Propagate
Help the roots of your plants grow by using honey. Honey contains enzymes which help promote root growth in plants. This is a great hack if you're propagating plants.
Before you place the plant in its pot, dip the roots into a cup of honey, then bury in the soil. If you are planning on propagating using water, add a spoonful of honey to the water before watering the plant roots.
Old Colanders Make For Great Plant Hangers
This hack is so obvious, how did it take us this long to pick up on it? If you have an old metal colander laying around your kitchen you can repurpose it into an easily functional and funky plant hanger.
They already have handles and holes for drainage, so this hack really is too easy. Just pack it with soil and your plants, hang it from a tree branch or wooden beam, and enjoy!
Prevent People From Stepping On Your Plants With Wine Bottles
Wine bottles have made this list of gardening hacks once again! This hack is a great way to keep kids and guests from accidentally stepping on the plants that are along a walkway. Take your empty wine bottles and stick them neck down in the soil, along the line of your plants.
You'll want to make sure the neck is totally submerged so that it won't tip over or someone will trip on it. Keep in mind that these are glass, so it's probably not the best idea if it's a key play zone!
Sinks Can Be Planters, Too
Have you ever seen this in a neighbor's yard? Probably not, but if you're the first person on the block to adopt this hack, you might not be the last! If you're remodeling and getting ready to toss a bathroom sink, think about repurposing it for your garden.
Remove the plumbing ends from the bottom and place the sink where you want it in the yard. Add soil and your plants and there you go!
2-Liter Soda Bottles Create a Greenhouse Effect
Another way to create a greenhouse effect is by using an empty 2-liter soda bottle. Cut the bottom of the bottle off, and place it over the seedling in your garden.
This will raise the air temperature for your new seedling while it grows. This gardening hack also protects your seedling from frost, wind, and harmful rain. So next time you finish a 2-liter bottle, don't toss it! It might just come in handy if there's frost in the forecast.
Stones Can Be Creative Garden Markers
If you have some really creative friends or family members, you can do this fun idea. Take large stones and paint them to resemble the plants that you have in your garden.
Paint them like a carrot, squash, or tomato and lay the marker down next the corresponding plot. This gardening hack is also a fun way to allow kids to be able to identify the contents of the garden and it's beyond cute.
Broken Pot? Give It Another Purpose
Yes, it's disappointing when a pot is dropped or breaks, but there is a way to repurpose it and give it a new life that won't bum you out.
Take the pieces of the broken pot and use a permanent marker to write the names of the plants in your garden. Place the pieces in the dirt, or stand them up next to the plants to use them as a creative marker.
Keep Your Tools In Shape With This Hack
As mentioned, gardening requires a lot of tools, and you'll want to keep them properly stored. But you'll also want to keep them clean, sharpened, and in good shape. Here's a perfect hack for that.
Fill a terra-cotta pot with a mixture of sand and mineral oil. This will become a perfect home for your small gardening tools. The sand is abrasive so simply pulling your tools out of the pot and hurling them back in will easily sharpen them with little effort required. The oil in the sand will also keep your gardening tools well-lubricated and clean them for your next use.
Epsom Salt is Useful When Transplanting
Epsom salt is a product that we keep around our homes to aid in digestion, stress, and helping us sleep. It's also a helpful product when you're getting ready to transport your plants from one location to another.
The epsom salt will ease the transplant shock that they'll experience. Once you create a new hole of where your plant will go, add a tablespoon of epsom salt at the bottom. Then cover it with a thin layer of dirt before placing your plant in.
Cinnamon is a Savior for Your Plants
Do you have cinnamon in your pantry? It will come in handy in your garden! Cinnamon's anti-fungal properties save over-watered plants from soggy soil, slime mold, and mushrooms that can pop up when the soil is too wet.
Essentially, cinnamon fights off plant disease but also works as a rooting agent. Apply cinnamon to the plant's stem to deter ant infestations. Who knew that something so yummy could help protect your plants too?
Ladder Plant Stands Are Practical and Pretty
Ladders are a great way of displaying your plants and allowing them to grow. If you have a ladder that you're no longer using (wooden ladders are the most aesthetically-pleasing) turn it into a plant shelf.
You'll just need extra wood or metal boards to connect the two sides. This is a great way to have all of your plants in one place to add some color to your inside space.
Baking Soda And Vinegar Can Be Used To Check Soil pH
It's important to pay attention to the pH levels in soil because it influences the availability of essential nutrients. Most horticultural crops will grow satisfactorily in soils having a pH between 6 (slightly acidic) and 7.5 (slightly alkaline).
So how do you keep track of this in your plants and garden? Using two household products: baking soda and vinegar. If your soil bubbles when you add vinegar to it, then you know your soil is alkaline. If you soil bubbles when you add baking soda to it, you know that your soil is on the acidic side.
Water Bottles Can Help Hydrate Plant Roots
This hack can help improve the hydration in your plants. While this does sound unconventional, it has been proven to be effective. Take a used water bottle and poke a bunch of holes in it. Then plant it in the soil next to the plant that requires more water.
When you fill the bottle, it will help your place receive water closer to the roots. Add more water as needed.
Put Those Melons In A Sling
Whether you've grown watermelons for years, or this will be your first year, you need to know this hack. Clearly, the more watermelons grow, the bigger and heavier this fruit becomes. Oftentimes, their changing weight can cause the melon to break off of the vine before they are ripe and ready to be picked.
When they fall, they can also smash, which is very sad. Give your melons some support with this sling idea. Take an old towel or t-shirt and create a sling that will provide added support while the melon fully grows.