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30 Top Gardening Tips And Hacks
Love gardening? We’ve rounded up 30 of the best gardening tips and hacks to make your life easier. Whether you’re a pro or are just starting out on your gardening journey, we’ve got something for everyone from tips and tricks for beginners to make your plants grow faster to garden art ideas, space savers for small gardens and more. Pick up those garden tools and get your green fingers at the ready with our easy gardening ideas.
1. Store tools in builder’s sand
Keep your tools from rusting by storing them in a plant pot filled with sand. Simply fill a terracotta pot with builder’s sand, and stir in some mineral oil to dampen the sand - the mixture of the two will gently clean your tools and prevent them from corroding.
2. Transform a shoe organiser into a vertical herb garden
This is a great garden hack for smaller spaces, perfect for transforming a balcony into a herb garden or making the most of the side of your garden shed. Take a shoe organiser and fill each segment with potting soil. Then you simply need to plant your favourite herbs in the pouches - go for a different herb in each pouch, each row, or maybe even each organiser. After some sunlight and a little care and attention, you should have a thriving herb garden!
3. Use old coffee grounds to fertilise your soil
If you’re a coffee drinker, put your leftover coffee grounds to good use by mixing them into your soil. Some coffee shops even give away bags of coffee grounds for this very purpose, so keep an eye out for these! Grounds work well as a slow-release fertiliser. Just sprinkle them thinly on top of your soil or add them to your compost heap and let them work their magic.
4. Help soil stay moist with paper towels
If you have an indoor jungle and you’re going to be away for a few days, you don’t need to worry about getting someone in to water your plants - all you need are some paper towels to do the hard work for you. It’s quick and easy and will ensure that your plants retain moisture for days, so you won’t come home to dead and dying plants.
All you need to do is grab some paper towels and roll them up as tight as possible without letting them break. Pop the ends in a glass of water and then lay the other end of the towels across the soil. The idea is that the towels will soak up the water from the glass and spread it evenly across the soil to keep your plants hydrated.
5. Turn old plastic bottles into watering cans
Don’t let your old plastic bottles go to waste. Instead, turn them into watering cans - this is a great tip for beginners and green-fingered kids will love that they can get involved and help out in the garden. Thoroughly wash out any old milk bottles and then use either a hammer and nails or a knife to poke some holes into the lid, and another in the handle, if your bottle has one. Then fill up with water and use it as a handy watering can for either indoor or outdoor plants!
6. Turn old milk jugs into mini greenhouses
Another use for old milk cartons is to turn them into mini greenhouses! Cut the bottom off the bottle, keeping it to plant your seeds in. Then close the top and put masking tape around the carton to keep the moisture in, and pop the ‘greenhouse’ on a windowsill that faces the sun. Check it every few days, spraying water on your seeds if necessary, and after a few days, you should start to see your seeds sprout! You can also use this technique outdoors - just plant the seeds directly into the soil rather than the bottom of the milk jug.
7. Use old toilet roll tubes as seeding pots
Did you know that you can recycle your old toilet tubes to repurpose them as mini biodegradable pots for seedlings and young plants? Pop the tubes into a waterproof tray, then fill them with potting soil and add your seeds. When you’re ready to move the seedlings to the garden, you can simply plant them inside the tubes as these will eventually decompose - neat!
8. Make your own vegetable markers
This is another one that’s fun for kids to get involved with, and it’ll ensure you know where you’ve planted each seed so you can properly take care of them as they grow. Grab some pebbles and stones, then paint them with whatever you like - a picture of the vegetable along with its name, perhaps - and add them to your garden. It’ll brighten up your vegetable patch for sure!
9. Grow lush grass with saltwater
You might associate Epsom salts with long, relaxing baths, but they can actually work wonders for growing grass as well. These salts contain magnesium which is beneficial for seed germination, nutrient absorption, growth and general grass and crop health. Simply add two tablespoons per gallon of water to be used on your lawn - then sit back and relax as you watch lush green grass spring up!
10. Use baking soda to tackle fungus
Baking soda is commonly used as a secret weapon for cleaning inside the home, so it makes sense that it also works outside. If your plants are suffering from black fungus attacking them, it can be an effective solution. For black spot fungus, mix four teaspoons of baking soda with a gallon of water and use the mixture when the fungus first starts to appear. The solution should work to change the pH levels of the leaves, making it harder for fungus to infect your precious plants.
11. Keep your plants hydrated with old sponges
If you have a lot of potted plants, you might have noticed that water settling at the bottom of the pots can lead to rot. To combat this issue, cut up some old sponges and pop them at the bottom of the pot. This should work to wick up moisture and create air for your plants, keeping the soil moist and your plants healthy.
12. Grow roses using potatoes
If you’re struggling to grow roses, potatoes could be the trick that you’re looking for! The idea is that, by inserting rose cuttings into a hole in a potato, it’ll be kept moist and be given all the nutrients it needs to survive. As the rose grows, the potato will break down over time, feeding the soil and keeping the cycle of growth going.
13. Line flower pots with coffee filters
Prevent soil from falling out of drainage holes in your indoor plants by lining your plant pots with coffee filters. All you need to do is place the filter at the bottom of the pot and then fill it up with potting soil. When you water the plant, excess water will drain out but the soil won’t go all over your living room.
14. Use eggshells as seed starters
This is one of the easiest ways to bring greenery into any indoor space. We like wheatgrass, as it’s simple to grow and requires very little maintenance, but you can use any seed you like. Fill the eggshells with soil, plant the seeds, keep the soil moist and wait for your seeds to turn into something wonderful! It’s a great way to grow herbs that you can quickly grab when you’re whipping up dinner.
15. Grow basil from leftover cuttings
Speaking of herbs, there’s no need to rush out to the supermarket every time you run out. It’s far cheaper and easier to grow your own at home, and you can even grow new basil plants from leftover cuttings. Take the tops and place them in a glass of water. Then you can repot them with fresh soil, and they’ll provide you with fresh basil for many months to come!
16. Make your own ladybug feeder
There are some bugs and pests you’ll want to keep out of your garden, but ladybugs aren’t one of them, as they eat many harmful pests. All you need is a piece of bamboo, roughly 10” long, some garden twine and raisins. Hang the bamboo from the twine and poke a couple of raisins into the centre of the bamboo - this will draw the ladybugs towards it, and will provide them with a food source if there aren’t any aphids or other insects nearby.
17. Fend off bugs the natural way
Coffee, grapefruit and eggshells are all good ways to deter snails and slugs from munching on the plants in your garden. Once you’ve had your morning grapefruit and coffee, place the grapefruit shells, halved and turned upside down, around your plants, and sprinkle coffee grounds on the soil to keep these little critters away. They can also be deterred by crushed eggshells, as they don’t like rough ground.
18. Use eggshells for a calcium boost
Another way to use up your eggshells is to grind them into a powder and mix the powder into your potting soil. Plants need calcium to grow strong and healthy, just like humans, and it can also reduce the risk of certain diseases such as bitter pit in apples and clubroot in brassicas.
19. Keep mosquitoes away
If you notice a lot of pesky mosquitoes in your garden, some plants can be used as a natural repellent thanks to their strong smells, so you don’t need to cover yourself in chemical sprays. Try lavender, citronella geranium, catnip or lemon thyme in and around your garden seating area to keep the mosquitoes away - with the added benefit of introducing wonderful aromas to your garden!
20. Make your own bird feeder
If you love watching the birds in your garden, keep them happy with an easy-to-make bird feeder - this is another one that children will love to get involved with. Simply make a mixture of oats, seeds and peanut butter and add to a hollowed-out orange half that you can hang on a tree branch.
21. Give wisteria a helping hand
Do you have wisteria in your garden that just doesn’t seem to be getting any taller? Give it a boost with rotten cider! It sounds unlikely but we have it on good authority that it works wonders. If your wisteria is refusing to flower, simply pour rotting cider over its roots and watch it blossom.
22. Change the colour of your hydrangeas
What you add to the soil can have a dramatic impact on the colour of your hydrangeas - unlike most other plants, the pH level of the soil affects the colour of the flowers. When the soil is acidic, the flowers will be blue, but if it’s alkaline, the hydrangeas will turn out pink. So if you’re not loving the colour of your flowers, you can change it simply by adding different elements to the soil. Pine needles will make the soil more acidic, whilst mushrooms will help to make the soil more alkaline.
23. Make a butterfly feeder
Like ladybirds, butterflies are important pollinators and can help to keep your garden healthy. Encourage them to visit your garden with this easy-to-make feeder. Butterflies love rotting food, which means this feeder is a handy way to get rid of any overripe fruit. If you have a fruit tree in your garden, allow any fallen fruit to ferment on the ground to naturally attract butterflies. Otherwise, create butterfly food by blending rotting fruit with honey, then placing it on a ceramic plate for butterflies to feed on.
24. Use an old colander as a hanging planter
Old colanders make for great hanging flower pots, with holes in the bottom ideal for drainage. You’ll just need some wire for hanging the colander up, and of course, soil and flowers to create a beautiful display.
25. Keep your soil moist with nappies
It sounds weird, but it works. Use clean nappies to keep the soil moist if you’re going on holiday, as the granules in the nappies, designed to keep them fresh and absorb liquid, will soak up water and gradually release it onto your plants to keep them thriving whilst you’re away.
26. Make your own fertiliser with nettles or rice
Rather than spending money on fertiliser, you can make your own at home - all you need is some nettles or rice. With nettles, just fill a bucket with them and top it up with water. Weigh it down with a stone on top to keep the nettles underwater, and leave it for a fortnight. Then empty out the nettles and use the water on your plants for a nitrogen boost - perfect for leafy plants and vegetables. Alternatively, next time you’re making rice, keep the water and use it as a fertiliser.
27. Use vinegar as a natural weed killer
Vinegar will drain the moisture from leaves, eventually killing the plant. This makes it a great cost-effective, natural weed killer for those pesky weeds that always seem to crop up in between your paving slabs or around the edges of your garden. Be careful with it, though, as it doesn’t discriminate - it’ll kill every plant it comes into contact with.
Create a solution by mixing regular kitchen vinegar with a cup of salt, a tablespoon of vinegar and two tablespoons of washing-up liquid. Pop it all in a spray bottle and go to town on the weeds.
28. Use old jars to plant succulents
Used jam jars make for great little planters – especially for succulents and other small, low maintenance plants. Cover the base of the jar with potting soil, then add your succulent, and fill the rest of the jar with soil around the sides of the succulent. These plants will rot if they sit in wet soil, so be sure to only water them when the soil is dry to touch.
29. Keep climbers under control with cable ties
If you have any climbers like sweet peas or rambling roses, you’ll know how quickly they can get out of control. Cable ties, also known as zip ties, are a cheap and convenient way of keeping them under controls. Simply attach a cable tie around the growing plant, and it’ll ensure it grows upwards rather than outwards. Be careful not to pull it too tightly though, as the plants still need room to breathe and grow.
30. Plant starting seeds in lemons
Once you’ve used lemons for cooking (or for gin and tonics!), rather than chucking them in the bin or the compost heap, you can use them for starting seeds. Put your seed mix and soil inside half a lemon, and keep an eye on them inside as they start to sprout. Then you can plant them in a bigger planter, either indoors or outside, and let them flourish. The great thing about this hack is that you can simply plant them in the lemon, which will disintegrate into the soil over time.
If you've found inspiration to get out into the garden this summer from the list of gardening tips above, be sure to kit yourself out properly with the correct clothing for gardening before getting down in the dirt. Check out our range of work shirts and body warmers to make sure you’re kitted out for gardening in all weathers.
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