40 Best Gardening Hacks and Ideas to Save Time and Money


Spring has finally sprung bringing with it the full-blown gardening season with all its joys and delights. Now we all know that gardening can be a rewarding and pleasant experience regardless of whether you are a novice gardener or an old pro.

Whether you’re cultivating flowers, herbs, vegetables, or all of these, gardening success can be extremely gratifying. But gardening can also be a bit intimidating, so if you’re a beginner here are some gardening hacks to help you along the way.

And even those of you with years of gardening experience might benefit from some of these garden hacks so let’s get right into the meat of it, and save you some time and money in the garden.

1. Self Watering Wine Bottle Hack

Love red wine but have no use for those bottles you toss out once the delicious contents has been consumed? Well, now you do!

It’s probably a given that at least once a year, most likely in the summer, you are going to take a vacation to get away from it all and renew your energy. Of course you’re looking forward to it and you deserve it, but your plants are out there looking at you reproachfully. Who’s going to water them while you’re away? No problem.

Just take your empty wine bottle, ideal because of its narrow neck, and thoroughly rinse it out. You don’t want your plants getting tipsy while your away. Actually, any glass bottle that has a narrow neck will do, but using a wine bottle just makes it look more exotic.

Now fill the bottle with water. Then go over to your planter, find the center, and swiftly turn the bottle over and push the long neck-deep into the soil. You need to be certain that the neck of the bottle is about several inches in the ground. So here comes the magic.

The water in the bottle won’t pour out all at once, instead, it will continue to seep gradually into the soil over a period of several days, thus allowing the soil to remain evenly damp. Problem solved!

2. Pop Bottle Mini Greenhouse

Nurturing some herb seedlings indoors before transplanting them perhaps? You can watch them literally burst forth with growth by making a mini-greenhouse using a mere pop bottle with the top cut off.

Remove the cover for at least an hour a day, and avoid letting it remain in direct sun. If it should stay constantly steamy, then make a hole or two in the top. Warmth is good, but your seedlings don’t need a sauna!

3. Milk Jug Watering Can

These are excellent for watering seedlings that have just begun to sprout, seed trays, and even your house plants. They are effortless to fill, pour and carry about. Plus you won’t have to worry that they’ll leak or drip all over the place like watering cans do.

Another great thing about them is that you can specify the amount of spray required by using a larger or smaller needle to make the holes. Heat up the needle and begin making holes in the lid of the bottle.

This is a simple and inexpensive idea because you only need a clean milk jug with a lid, a needle, and a lighter (for heating up the needle).

4. Use Saran Wrap to Protect Tomato Plants

Since tomatoes enjoy staying warm, when the wind blows and the temperature drops even a little, they really feel it. But all you have to do to keep them feeling nice and snug is to wrap Saran Wrap around the two bottom rungs of your tomato cage. This creates a greenhouse environment by keeping the heat inside and sheltering your plants from the wind.

5. Damp Towel Seed Tester Gardening Hack

Don’t just assume that your old packets of seeds are useless and toss them away. Test them first using this damp towel seed testing idea.

Just take a paper towel dampened with warm water and lay some of the seeds on it. Fold the paper towel so that it covers the seeds. Continue to keep the towel damp for several days and check it to see if there are any sprouts. You might be surprised to discover that those old seeds that you were willing to give up on have some life left in them yet.

6. Foam Peanut Drainage Hack

One of the drawbacks to gardening is those backbreakingly heavy outdoor planters loaded with potting soil that you need to move about. Seems like they get heavier every year, right?

You can put an end to this struggle immediately with this gardening hack. There’s a secret many gardeners aren’t aware of. Your plants don’t need all that soil! So halve the weight by packing the bottom third to half of your planter with foam packing peanuts.

Cover the peanuts with a piece of landscape cloth and use the rest of the space for your potting soil and plants. This will also help to improve drainage.

Your back will thank you!

7. Old T-Shirt Watermelon Slings

A good way to create space to grow watermelons in the garden is to train the vines to climb up a trellis.

Once the watermelons start to bulge and become heavy, they will require some type of support to stay on the vines. This is accomplished easily enough by using old t-shirts to make a sling to safely hold them in place.

8. Coffee Filters In Potted Plants

Placing coffee filters in the bottom of a potted plant will not only keep dirt in the pot and not falling onto people’s heads if you have a hanging plant, but it will make transplanting your plant later on relatively simple. All you need to do is lift the filter out and the plant and soil remain in one piece, preventing a big mess that will have to be cleaned up.

9. Composting Leftovers

Place the food that is leftover and cluttering up your refrigerator into leftover takeout bags, then bury them right there in the garden beside the plants. Using this method will give you healthier, happier plants, eliminate waste, and aid the environment.

The video below takes you through everything you need to know, to be able to make nutrient-dense compost at home for FREE!

10. Vinegar For Weeds

 Unfortunately, weeds are an unavoidable part of gardening. Pulling them out can be a pain for your back, and aggravating as you try to maneuver so that you don’t uproot your plants as well. Bet you always thought it was just something you had to put up with doing to maintain your garden. Well, now you can solve the problem by giving them a good dose of vinegar. Yes, that’s correct. Good old fashioned vinegar will do the job. Using this method in full sunlight is the ideal time to do it. Best of all, it will rid your garden of weeds without harming the environment.

11. Cinnamon For Fungus

Frequently, gardeners will move plants from one area to another. The trouble is that if you are replanting, you do not want fungus to begin to grow in the area surrounding the plant.

All you need to do is use cinnamon. Dip the root of whatever plant you are moving into cinnamon. It will prevent the growth of fungus, plus keep your plants healthy.

12. Coke For Azaleas

It might seem like this is a joke, but this is a proven fact. If you want to have the best azaleas possible, one of the ways to get them without a lot of expensive soil and feeding, is to use Coke. Now, it doesn’t absolutely have to be Coke, as any cola will do, but just pour four ounces of cola directly into the soil, and watch what happens.

You’ll be stunned as your azaleas will start growing like mad! So Coke really is the number one way to treat your azalea bushes. They will slurp it right up and reward you by thriving.

13. Use Leftover Waste to Grow Food

Now while you already learned about using leftovers as compost, you might be surprised to find that your waste can come handy in other ways too. Since a lot of the foods we eat have seeds or other parts that can be planted to grow more of the same, why not save them and grow them all by yourself!

Put the seeds and parts that regrow into soil, and soon there will be results. Thus you are growing your own food and sparing the earth from having to deal with more waste.

14. Eggshells For Calcium-Rich Soil

Naturally, you want your garden to grow and flourish, so year after year you buy mineral-enriched soil that costs a fortune. Well, you don’t have to do that anymore. Rather, you can make your own. Take the eggshells from the eggs that you have eaten and put all of them into the blender.

Then blend them until they become a fine powder. Take this powder and sprinkle it into your soil. Now you will have calcium-rich soil with no extra expense!

To learn more about what you can do with eggshells in the garden, Check out the video below to learn more hacks.

15. Plastic Bins For Mini-Greenhouses

While it seems that clear plastic bins can be used for almost anything, here is one use you probably never thought of. Plastic bins can be wonderful mini-greenhouses for growing your seedlings. They are cheap and can be used for many purposes even in the off-season. That’s what makes this a great gardening hack for beginners.

16. Chopstick Labels

Love Chinese takeout, but have no use for those leftover chopsticks? Now you do. Here is a fast and easy way to make labels for your plants. The next time you have leftover chopsticks after your Chinese meal, don’t throw them out. Wash them off thoroughly and use them as an inexpensive way to label your plants.

You can attach the seed packet from each plant to them and then place them in the soil beside the plants they represent. Now how much easier can you ask for?

17. Recycle Old Planters

Do you have a collection of old planters which can still serve their purpose, but don’t have a very attractive appearance? Here’s a fun, easy way to convert them into planters to be proud of. Rather than merely spray painting each of them with a solid color, try adding simple patterns and various colors to each planter. You’ll be very pleased with the amazing result.

18. Convert a Hanging Pocket Organizer Into a Vertical Garden

Take your ordinary, run-of-the-mill pocket organizer, the identical type you would hang inside of your closet to hold your shoes. Find a suitable place to hang it outdoors and use each pocket for a plant.

Makes a perfect way to have a small herb or flower garden without needing almost any space at all. Not only that, but it serves to protect your plants from animals that will root plants on the ground.

19. Plastic Forks to Keep Animals Away

Here plastic forks have a duel use. You can place them in your garden near your plants to keep animals out. But you can also use the tines of the forks to place the names of the plants on. Now you won’t forget what you planted where.

20. Use Eggshells for Seedlings

Bet you never thought of it, but eggshells make ideal indoor seedling starters. They are free and loaded with calcium that’s excellent for your plants, and when you want to move your plants outside, you don’t need to remove the plant from the shell. A great gardening hack!

21. Garden Tool Holder Hack

Take a terra-cotta pot and fill it with sand, then add some mineral oil. Then place any small, sharp and rustless gardening tools you have right into it. This way you will be able to sharpen and oil them at the same time. Great time saver and cuts back on work too.

22. Plastic Pot Invasive Plant Preventer

To keep herbs with spreading roots, place plastic edging under the ground. Just take a plastic pot, one of those you get from a nursery and then throw away, and cut off the bottom.

Then bury the pot itself in the ground. This prevents over-zealous roots from reaching the plants around them, plus it enables you to keep control over the size of the plant after it reaches its full maturity.

23. Cover Freshly Dug Areas With a Tarp

All of your garden and this is the absolute truth, all of your garden has weed seeds. Even if you don’t see them they are everywhere. Normally, the seeds don’t germinate because of lack of light, but when you dig up a large section of your garden, you bring these seeds to the top of the soil. So once you’ve finished clearing any large section of garden, cover the area with a tarp to prevent weeds from forming.

24. Eat Your Weeds

While this may sound a bit strange, there are a lot of weeds that can be quite tasty when they are young like dandelions, violets, and many more. A caution though.

Before you use this gardening hack and begin dining on your weeds, make sure you do some research and find out for certain which ones are safe to consume.

25. Solarize Your Garden

This involves laying black plastic on top of your prepared flower beds. The beds should also be thoroughly watered. The plastic prevents sunlight from entering and the water turns to steam.

This will definitely kill off any weeds or weed seeds, plus you’ll have the additional advantage of killing some diseases and fungi too. Keep the cover on for 30 days or longer before planting.

26. Create a Garden Bed Over Lawn Using Cardboard

Lacking the money to build a raised garden bed? Try this gardening hack instead. Place cardboard over the lawn to create a garden bed. The cardboard will serve the purse of preventing grass and weeds from growing by keeping light out and it will also make for a carbon layer for the garden.

Not only all this, but it will save you many painstaking hours of digging sod out and provide healthy soil too. Be certain the cardboard layer has no separations or openings so that weeds will not be able to grow between the cardboard sections.

27. Use Potatoes to Propagate Rose Cuttings

All you need to do with this gardening hack is to cut some healthy rose stems, and then push the bottom ends into large potatoes. Afterward, bury them about 3-4 inches down in a mixture of soil and peat moss.

The purpose the potatoes serve is to assist the stems in keeping moisture while they take the time to grow roots.

28. Pot in Pot Planting

Place empty plastic pots into the holes where you intend to put your seasonal plants. Buried pots in your garden can brighten the garden and make for an orderly and pleasing space.

They will use fewer amounts of water and energy too. This is because you can efficiently change seasonal plants, and experiment with colour and location.

29. Paint Stones For Garden Markers

Take some river stones, and apply some paint and have some fun with this gardening hack. These can be used as garden markers, or just scattered about to add to the colour and cheer of your garden. It’s also a good art project if you have children and need to keep them occupied.

30. Use Honey For Plant Cuttings

Not many people know this, but honey has enzymes that help encourage root growth, and can be used as a ‘Rooting Hormone’. It will aid plant cuttings in setting their roots and ensure they propagate without difficulty. Plus, it can keep fungal problems away.

31. Cooking Water to Fertilize Plants

Here’s something different for you! Whenever you have reason to steam or boil some eggs or vegetables, you are wasting useful water if you pour it down the drain afterwards. Wait until the water has cooled, then pour this healthy vegetable water in your outdoor plants. It will serve to provide them with excellent fertilizer.

32. Use PVC Pipe to Fertilize Dense Plants

The important thing to remember about fertilizing your plants is that it necessitates getting to the base of the plant so that you can put your fertilizer down near the roots. Utilize a piece of 2″ PVC to do the job with dense plants. Place one end at the plant base and just pour the fertilizer right into the pipe. If you want a wider opening through which to pour the fertilizer, then cut the top of the pipe at 45 degrees.

33. Salad Bar Greenhouse

Whenever you make your next trip to a salad bar, remember to save the plastic clamshell container. You can actually reuse it as a mini-greenhouse in which to start your seeds come spring. Thoroughly wash the container.

Take an awl and hammer and use them to punch some small holes in the top so that there will be adequate airflow. Place potting mix in the bottom half. Plant the seeds, give them a little water and shut the lid. Put the container in a spot where it will get lots of sun, and then sit back and watch your seeds sprout!

34. Garden Tool Mailbox

If you have some shrubs near your garden, then you’re lucky, because you have the perfect hiding place for a mailbox. No, you’re not going to be getting any secrete mail. That’s where you can store away your gardening tools and still have them nearby when you need them.

No more having to walk back to the garage or shed to retrieve a certain tool, It’s inexpensive too because you shouldn’t have to pay more than $20 for the mailbox.

35. Zip Tie Plant Fasteners

Convincing your vines to travel upwards precisely how you want them to can be a bit tricky. Sometimes it can seem like they have a personal vendetta against doing what you want them to do.

So in order to keep them growing in the right direction, fasten zip ties around the stalks, wrapping them around anything that seems stable enough. Just don’t tie the vines too tightly because they need some freedom to move and grow.

36. Repurpose Old Croquet Wickets

Ever determinedly drag your hose across the yard with your mind set on reaching a particularly hard to get to spot to water, only to turn around and find that you accidentally annihilated part of your flower bed? If you have, you won’t forget that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Want to ensure that never happens again? Well, the answer is to create a path for your hose using the wickets of your old croquet set. While you’re watering, simply feed the hose through the wickets, and you will keep your flowers safe and healthy.

37. Citrus Ant Repellent

Is your garden under attack from ants? Don’t worry, the solution to your dilemma is simple. Boil some citrus peels in water and pour the liquid in the problem areas to discourage your little multi-legged friends. Water from a pot of cooked sweet potatoes will work too. Keep this up for a while and you’ll find that you’ll soon have your uninvited guests on the retreat.

38. Add Milk to the Garden

Milk can infuse your soil with valuable nutrients and also has anti-fungal powers. If you have any expired milk in your refrigerator, don’t just pour it down the drain. Your garden will appreciate it a lot more. And your soil isn’t going to complain even if it happens to be a bit sour.

39. Heat Seedlings

Give your seedlings some heat by putting a heating mat under the seed starting trays. This is a good thing because the steady warm temperatures will increase their growth rates. The seedlings should be in individual small containers for the best results. Remember that while you want to give your seedlings warmth, you don’t want to sear them to a crisp, so be careful and you’ll have success.

40. Turn Your Shovel Into Non-Stick

Since gardening involves lots of digging, particularly at planting time, you certainly need a shovel. To avoid having mud stick to it spray the shovel with a silicone or Teflon lubricant which will have the effect of making any soil just slide off. That makes it a lot easier than constantly having to bang and shake your shovel to dislodge any soil that decides to stick there, usually in large lumps.

Conclusion

The above are just some of the gardening hacks you can use to save you both time and money. Gardening is never going to be easy, but it doesn’t have to be a chore either. After all, it’s a hobby that supposed to be relaxing and give you pleasure.

You can have fun creating and using these hacks while planning the next one you’re going to try. Using these hacks will not only be good for your garden and the environment, but you’ll have a sense of pride knowing that you tackled these problems yourself and came up with a solution without having to resort to professional help or the advice of that know-it-all neighbour you really can’t stand.

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Remember folks you reap what you sow!

Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter and long term gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 45. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

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