29+ Unconventional Gardening Hacks
| LAST UPDATE 02/20/2023
Believe it or not, some of the best gardening hacks have actually been lying around in plain sight. From the kitchen to the garage, we've rounded up some unconventional tips bound to leave our plants thriving.
Yesterday's News Fights Today's Weeds
Let's face it, there are many of us with a growing stack of outdated newspapers that we have little to no use for after having read them. So rather than sending them to a dump, we can repurpose them with this handy gardening hack!
By placing the single sheets of newspaper in a uniformed fashion in our garden bed and layering some soil on top, the paper will act as a barrier against pesky weeds looking to place their roots. Plus, the thin paper still allows for moisture to pass through to our thirsty plants below!
Mini and Portable Greenhouses
If one lives in a city that experiences some harsh winters, protecting plants during the cooler months can be a challenge - especially if one can't splurge on a fancy greenhouse system. But, thanks to this easy and cost-effective hack, we can now craft them on our own. All it takes is some plastic bottles, soil, seeds, and water.
The bottles act as a mini greenhouse that will help keep plants feeling moist and comfortable in a humid environment. By situating them near a sunny spot by a window, heat will get trapped in the bottle and will help our plants survive those icy months before being repotted outside in the summer!
Repurposing a Jug to a Watering Can
Looking to get the whole family involved in garden care without purchasing unnecessary doubles when it comes to supplies? Then look no further because this hack with get everyone feeling their inner green thumb. All it takes is an empty jug to get some extra help watering the plants and veggies.
And it's as simple as one-two-three. The jugs cap just needs a few holes poked into to allow for the water to pour out. Then, fill the jug with water, twist the cap back on, and voilà! We've fashioned ourselves another handy watering jug without another trip to the local garden center.
Protect Against Rotten Roots with Diapers
While we may not like to admit it, many of us are guilty of accidentally sabotaging a plant or two due to miscalculations in watering and so much more. And that makes sense, seeing as root rot is enemy number one when it comes to plants. So how can we make sure our little green babies are getting just what they need?
No need to fret over a taxing watering schedule - because the solution is likely already in most of our cupboards! By using a sponge or diaper and resting it at the bottom of our plant pot, it will serve as a lifesaver for our plants. Rather than have the roots drowning in water, the material will drink up any extra water!
Closet Sorter Turned Space-Saving Garden
When it comes to apartment living, sometimes garden space isn't exactly what dreams are made of. But that doesn't mean that we can't flex our green thumb - it just calls for creativity! And this next vertical garden hack can help make the most of any balcony garden. Shoe organizer, soil, and seeds? Check, check, and check.
After securing the organizer to a sturdy spot, punch a hole at the bottom of each sleeve to allow for draining. Next, top the sections up with soil and tuck in the seeds of one's choice! Finally, sit back, and enjoy the vertical garden - after watering, of course!
Recycled Plant Tags
Now, this next environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing gardening trick will be sure to get any wine and plant lover excited! Looking to get a handle on that garden organization without wasting money on plastic tags? All that's needed are wine corks, skewers, and a sharpie to solve the problem.
The corks can be used as the tags themselves. Then, by puncturing them with a skewer, pick, or chopstick, they can be securely planted into the pot next to a plant of choice. This can especially come in handy right early on before it's totally clear what plant is sprouting from the seed.
Sprouting Produce Leftovers
Ever been stuck with the root of a green onion? Or perhaps looking to up that indoor gardening game and get some fresh produce along the way? Then we've got just the solution! All that's needed is a clear glass jar and some old root-ends of some green onions - it's as simple as that!
After filling a jar with about an inch or two of water, place the onion butts root-side down in the jar, ensuring that all those thirsty roots are safely underwater. Place the jar by a window, and within a couple of days, some new growth will start to appear! One will have a fresh salad garnish in no time.
Plastic Forks as Critter Repellers
If a neighborhood rodent has rummaged through the garden one too many times, then we'd definitely consider this next affordable hack to save plants once and for all! And the solution can be picked up at any dollar store or grocery store, for that matter! Let's see what it's all about.
By placing some plastic forks tines-side up in between our plants, it will block those pesky squirrels and rabbits from trampling around the garden bed - or worse - chowing down on our plant babies. It's an easy and cheap security system to try out in our time of need, that's for sure.
Toilet Paper Rolls Repurposed Into Seed Organizers
Sure, those empty toilet paper rolls could be chucked into the recycling bin, but what about giving them a second life as a handy garden hack instead? The bathroom staple can be transformed into the perfect seed germinating site before they get transferred into the garden.
All one has to do is line their carton rolls up and fill them with some damp soil and the seed of choice. It's the perfect seed-sized place to get one's plant babies started on their journey to the big leagues (AKA the garden or a bigger pot). Plus, this way, they're neatly organized!
Leftovers Turned to Compost
Not only is this next hack an environmentally friendly option, but it can do wonders for our gardens as well! And all that's needed is some collected kitchen scraps and a place to store them. In about a week's time, get ready to discover nutrient-packed fertilizer to bring straight to the garden!
Some of the A-plus compost options include fruit and veggie peels and cores, coffee grains, eggshells - and even stale bread crumbs! Pack that stinky compost in the garden bed under a layer of soil, and those plants and flowers will be saying thank you in no time!
Every Rose Has It's Thorn - & Potato
Roses are adored in just about every household. That is, until they begin to wilt, and it's only a matter of time before they've reached their expiration date. Luckily, this gardening hack will have them back and better than ever in no time. Start by grabbing those flowers, trimming the stems, and removing all petals. Next?
Grab some potatoes from the pantry and, using a knife, carefully poke a hole into each one of the vegetable's longer sides. Lastly, place the dying rose's stem inside the hole. And voila! Get ready for a beautiful rose bush, all from the convenience of our own backyards!
Muffin Tins for Mapping Gardens
When it comes to gardening, it's normal to get a bit ahead of ourselves. After all, from fruits to veggies - to flowers - it's hard to not want to cram in as many options as possible. But the truth is that our precious produce needs plenty of space to grow. Thankfully, that's where our old muffin tins come into play...
Using the baking tin, one can accurately map out their garden without having to worry about eyeballing anything. Simply push the muffin tray into the soil -firmly enough that small imprints will begin to emerge (as seen above). Now, we've got the perfect resting spots to house our seeds. It's really that easy, folks.
From Scraps to Soil
We already know that baking tins can come in handy here - but they're actually not the only kitchen product that serves a double purpose. In fact, those veggies in our gardens can actually be created all thanks to extra produce lying around in our fridge (or pantry).
That's right. If one has a bell pepper at their disposal, now would be the time to fetch it: simply cut it in half, scoop out some of the seeds and place them inside one half of the cut vegetable. Next, fill the cut pepper with soil, place it in the ground, and water it accordingly. The same can also be done for tomatoes!
Grocery Goods = Goodbye Weeds
Weed killers are great and all - until they're killing other visitors in our garden. But don't worry, those days worrying about our innocent vegetables or nearby flowers are long gone. We've scrounged up a foolproof recipe that'll get the job done, without harming any surrounding plants.
How? Go ahead and measure out 1 gallon of white vinegar, 1 cup of salt, and 1 tablespoon of dish soap. Next, combine all the ingredients, mix, and spray onto the weeds during the daytime - ideally when it's sunny outside. Those days of using harsh chemicals are officially a thing of the past.
Looking to give that greenhouse the upgrade it deserves? Look no further. Not only will this budget-friendly option serve as the perfect place to store those plants, but it'll also keep those pesky backyard visitors (ahem, squirrels, raccoons, the list goes on...) away. Here's how it works.
Start off by fetching a to-go container. Place the desired soil inside and keep it secure by placing a clean lid on top. By storing those plants inside the customized greenhouse, we'll be keeping those animals away - all while providing a safe, humid space for our experiments to grow!
Weeds Double as Water?
For most of us, the thought of weeds isn't always welcomed with open arms. But what if we said those pesky growths could actually serve as beneficial to our garden? That's right. Believe it or not, we can actually use those same weeds to water our plants.
Next time one goes collecting weeds from their backyard, place them in a bucket, cover them with water, and let them sit. After a few hours, remove the weeds and pour the remaining water over the surrounding garden. We might not appreciate the unwanted visitors, but our plants will love the nutrients they've provided the H20!
A Cup of Joe Brews a Perfect Pot of Soil
Whether one's working with an indoor or outdoor garden, this hack is for everyone! Ever wonder how to prevent that outpour of soggy dirt from the bottom of a planter? Two words: coffee filters. Yep. Simply place a filter at the bottom of a pot, before placing any soil.
Not only will the kitchen accessory serve as a much-needed protective barrier, but it'll also prevent any rogue soil from disappearing through the pot's drainage hole. Definitely a win-win if ya ask us. But we're not done just yet. Go ahead, keep scrolling!
A Squeaky Clean Garden
Getting squeaky clean is about to take on a whole new meaning! While most of us can't get enough of that "fresh out of the shower" scent, there's one person - well, creature - who doesn't: pests. Long gone are the days worrying about those stray cats or squirrels snacking on our precious plants...
Well, how does it work? Simply place a bar of scented soap at the center of the garden, and those pesky creatures will stay away. It's really that simple. One can also scatter soap gratings across the property by shredding soap in either a food processor or cheese grater.
Table Salt To Help Spice Up Fertilizer
Most of us already know salt that can be used on our property. But this time, we're not talking about that black ice hijacking the front driveway. We're talking about our backyards and our baby plants that need fertilizing. Running low on fertilizer? We've got just the trick...
Believe it or not, sprinkling a bit of salt throughout our flower beds - either on its own or mixed with water - can provide great benefits. That's right: sea salt can be beneficial to a variety of plants, including flowers, trees, lawns, and veggies. Who would've thought?
Eye on the Target...
We're all familiar with the saying, "keep your eye on the prize." But how about when we need to keep our eyes on the enemy? When it comes to weeding, oftentimes it can be tricky not to spray nearby grass with weed killer. Luckily, we've come up with the perfect solution: aluminum tins.
How does it work? First, grab either an empty aluminum can or bucket. Next, carefully cut the bottom out by using either a can opener or sharp knife. Once that's done, simply place the carved can over the targeted weed and spray! Why didn't we think of this one sooner?
Elevate Those Plants with a Recycled Stage
A fair number of avid plant lovers are guilty of splurging on a beautiful plant pot without knowing exactly what leafy baby will be calling it home. And sometimes, that can result in a fit that's a little too big for comfort. But, luckily there's a way to customize any pot to fit even the shortest of stumps.
By placing some empty plastic bottles at the bottom of the pot, followed by a generous layer of soil, it will act as the perfect stage to give our plants the boost they need to fit the pot snuggly. Plus, the added room will allow for more air circulation, which helps fight against root rot!
Secure Lanky Stems with Zip Ties
Vines, stalks, and sunflowers... What do they have in common besides making beautiful additions to any garden? They also fall over incredibly easily. Luckily, with a couple of household items, our beloved lanky greens will stay upright no matter the weather outside. Just grab some sticks and a handful of zip ties...
By securing the stem up against the upright stick with zip ties, we've got your plants the ultimate shoulder to lean on. Now, no matter how tall they grow, or how heavy their bud or leaves may be, we can rest assured our plants will remain strong and growing towards the sun!
Say "Cheers" to This Slug-Repelling Hack
The pesky critters that come and wreak havoc on our garden aren't always fluffy and cute. They come in the small and slimy variety, too. That's right, slugs are an incredibly devastating visitor for most green thumbs - but thankfully, there's an easy way to deal with the problem: offer them a fresh brew!
By placing a cup or plate of beer at the site of the slug infestation, the unwelcome garden guests will be attracted to the taste, therefore distracting them from our precious plants. Simply pick up the thirsty slugs in the dish and dispose of them safely. And voilà!
A Dash of Cinnamon to Ward Off Ants
Despite how tempting another trip to the garden center may be, it's incredibly likely that most solutions to our garden troubles are already somewhere in your home. For example, the common household spice, cinnamon, can be used outside of the kitchen to save some of our beloved plants!
Believe it or not, cinnamon doubles as a great ant repellent for both indoor and outdoor gardens! And that's not all - sprinkling some of this warm spice on a stem of a new plant clipping will boost its growth rate significantly! Keep scrolling for more need-to-know garden hacks...
A Cistrusy Potting Solution
In addition to providing us with our daily boost of vitamins, who knew that citrus like grapefruit and orange peels could live a second life as mini plant pots? Take the empty rind, skewer a hole at its base for draining, and fill it up with soil and a seed of choice.
But, it's important to note which types of seeds will excel in an acidic soil environment - which these peels will definitely provide! Options like peppers and radishes are just some of the seeds that will thrive in a vitamin C-infused pot before being ready to be replanted in any garden!
A Cardboard Base to Fight Weed Growth
It seems like the fight against weed growth can, at times at least, suck all the fun out of gardening. But luckily, some wise green thumbs have shared this genius hack that can greatly reduce the presence of weeds in our gardens. Apparently, it's as simple as placing a base of cardboard underneath the dirt in any garden!
The flattened and opened-up boxes will act as the perfect one-sided door for our gardens. Moisture can get it, but weeds can't! The barrier is just thin enough for moisture passage, but a weed piercing through? Forget about it! Plus, it saves our empty boxes from a trip to the landfill.
Bubble Bath Fertilizer
Epsom salt, or more formally known as hydrated magnesium sulfate, is a beloved bath time product that helps soothe muscles and relax the body. But it has a second use outside of the bathroom. That's right, the magnesium component is a standard ingredient in the best fertilizers on the market!
By diluting Epson salt in a spritz bottle and spraying it on most plants, it can really help with key aspects of plant growth like chlorophyll, germination, and the osmosis of other key vitamins from the soil. One can give it a try by mixing two TSPs of the bath product into a gallon of water!
Fighting Tool Rust with a Trip to the Sandbox
From our favorite knife in the kitchen to our trusty spade, once we've got our special tool, it's pretty safe to say we'd do whatever we could to keep it around as long as possible. So, when it comes to our garden tools in the shed, we can't wait to try out this cheap hack!
All it takes is a mixture of sand and mineral oil (like baby oil, for example!). By placing the moistened sand in a bucket with our tools medal-side down, it will help fight rust growth and clean our tools at the same time. Plus, everything will be in one convenient spot.
Keeping Plant Growth in Check with Disposable Containers
There's nothing quite as frustrating as spacing out our plants for the season, only to have one quick grower take over half the garden! Luckily, there's an easy hack to keep outrageous root spreading in check - and chances are most of us already have the solution in our garden shed or garage!
By burning our territory-snatching plants first in a plastic pot, then in the garden, we will help keep the root growth in check and save our weaker plants from being taken over. And as an added bonus, if one ever decides to switch up the garden layout, this makes relocating plants that much simpler.
Sodium Bicarbonate Can Help Sweeten Garden Veggies
Before tackling the next tomato season in our gardens, try checking out this next hack that can help elevate harvest flavor to new heights! But it comes with a risk - one definitely should avoid having any direct contact with the baking soda and the leaves or roots of the plant.
But by simply adding some powder to our watering cans (one TSP of baking soda to roughly a gallon of water), we can get this mineral-rich hydration to our plants and let our tastebuds be amazed later on in the season. People can't get enough of this sweet hack!
Turning Wine Bottles into a Watering System
Heading out for a day or two and can't find someone to come over to water the plants? Or perhaps looking to cut down on that tedious watering schedule? Then chances are that this next tip will come in handy. All that's needed is a washed and clean wine bottle and a punctured cork.
Next, one can fill up the bottle with water, place the punctured cork back in the neck, and tuck the bottle cork-side down in the dirt next to the plant of choice. It acts as an on-demand watering service to give some peace of mind. It's as easy as that!
Plant Strawberry Patches in a Laundry Bin
Strawberries... They're a delicious addition to our fruit and veg patches, but they sure do take up a lot of space! So, rather than sacrificing half a garden bed or more, how about this nifty trick to maximize their growing space? To get started, we need a laundry basket with lots of holes like the one shown below.
Next, place a burlap sack or garbage bag in the basket and fill it with nutrient-packed soil. Lined up up the basket's holes, cut some slits in the bag or sack, and place the seeds accordingly. And there ya have it! We've got yourself a movable full-rotation strawberry patch!
Bring New Life to Old Avocado Pits
Who doesn't want more avocado toast in their life? Well, next time one chows down on one, try saving the pit to grow one's own personal avocado supply! All one needs to give it a try is a clean pit, some toothpicks, and a clear glass. To get started, poke some picks into the pit.
Next, balance the pit in the glass so that the bottom of the seed is comfortably underwater. In a matter of days, one should see some new growth sprouting, at which point one can replant and water away! All that's left is to patiently wait for the avocado tree to grow.
Keep Track of Next Year's Seeds in Pill Bottles
Those flimsy paper envelopes that we buy seeds in at the store just sometimes don't do the trick. So this next hack will help keep track of those unused seeds in a neat and organized fashion until they're ready for use in our garden! To try it out, one'll need some cleaned and label-free pill bottles.
These containers can easily be relabelled and can solve all our seed storage problems in one easy swoop! If stored correctly, Gary Pilarchik from The Rusted Garden praises this hack for keeping seeds for multiple seasons! Keep scrolling for more gardening tips...
Keep Succulents Happy in a Water Bottle
Looking to grow that succulent collection without dishing out a ton of money? Then, perhaps it's time to take matters into one's own hands! And it's surprisingly easy, as long as one has a water bottle, scissors, water, and a succulent at the ready. Get started by piercing holes all over the bottle...
Then, add about two inches of water to the bottle's base. With great care, take some healthy-looking succulent petals and nestle them in the holes with the roots facing inward. Make sure the cap is twisted on firmly, and ya should have some new succulent babies ready to replot in about a month!
Keep Plants Watered with an Easy Drip System
Enjoyed the wine bottle hack for a weekend away from our indoor gardens? Then this next idea will be just as exciting. First, gather a big container, some twine, and scissors to get that water system set up. Add a generous amount of water to the container and cut up some strands of rope.
With each arm-lengthed piece of twine, place one end in the water and connect it to the plant's root in the pot. Just make sure the water is higher up than the plants! The twine will act as a highway from the water to our thirsty plants and keep it hydrated and happy while we're away or busy.
Keep Nails Dirt-Free with Bar Soap
While half the fun of gardening is getting down and dirty with our hands, that doesn't necessarily mean that the time spent scrubbing dirt from our fingernails couldn't be put to better use. And so why not try scratching our nails with soap prior to diving into our next garden project?
The soap shavings will act as a buffer between our nail and finger, blocking any dirt from entering those hard-to-reach places. Plus, by the time we're ready to wash our hands, we'll have gotten a head start on the cleaning process. Win-win, right?
Turn Scrapped Tires into New Garden Beds
Back from the auto garage with a set of tires one's got no use for anymore? Or maybe some from years back taking up space in the shed? Then put them to good use with this crafty trick! One can even give them an aesthetic upgrade with a fresh coat of paint. The choice is ours...
All one needs to do is place some cardboard at the tire's base to ensure no soil gets out. Once secure, top up the tire with any dirt of choice and get busy planting! These shallow planters work great for flowers whose roots don't shoot too far down.
Make a Gutter Garden
If one hasn't noticed the trend yet, this roundup is all about repurposing things that we have lying around the house to take our gardening game to the next level. And that's exactly what the gutter garden is all about. So let's see how this DIY hack works...
By taking a section of a used gutter and filling it with soil, seeds, and a little H2O, we've got ourselves a space-saving and easy to move garden on our hands! This can be the perfect addition to a deck railing or window sill. Plus, it can be reused over and over again.
DIY Bug Repellent Mixture
While we may try our best to keep our plant babies out of harm's way, sometimes those annoying intruders can beat us to the punch and wipe out a season's worth of gardening with just a few bites. So why not try and get ahead of the critters and rodents with this easy DIY spray?
And a quick glance in the kitchen may reveal one has all the ingredients needed already! In a blender, whiz up some garlic, one and a half cups of mint, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, six cups of water, and a squirt of dishwasher soap. A quick spritz on the plants should do the trick!