8 easy, DIY gardening tips & tricks for the beginner and seasoned gardener. Simple ways to make your time spent in the garden more enjoyable!
Everyone loves shortcuts or out-of-the-ordinary ways to solve problems. Sometimes the simplest household items, or using an item in a different way, can be the solution. Here are eight DIY gardening tips to make your gardening chores easier and less expensive. Sometimes it pays to think outside the box!
8 Easy DIY Gardening Tips
Use soap shavings to keep away squirrels.
Some people think squirrels are cute…however, I am not one of them. I really have no use for squirrels at all! There is nothing more maddening than planting lovely containers, raised beds or a regular garden only to have squirrels dig up the soil and sometimes even the plants. An easy and inexpensive way to keep the squirrels away is to grate a bar of Irish Spring bath soap around your plants. Depending on the amount of space you need to cover, just a few bars should be enough. Unless you receive record amounts of rain, the soap shavings should work for a few weeks. Even after the soap dissolves, the scent lingers and keeps the squirrels away.
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Put plastic forks in containers to keep away animals.
A great solution to keep squirrels or bunnies out of your containers is to stick plastic forks in your soil with the tines pointing up. It doesn’t harm your plants at all (or the animals) and there is literally no room for them to dig. I use this method every spring when my container dirt is new and the plants are small. In the past, I have had squirrels dig out half of my container soil and it makes the biggest mess. This fork trick really does keep most of them away.
Use egg cartons to start seedlings indoors.
It’s very exciting when winter is over and spring is just around the corner…and it’s time to start seedlings for the garden. One of the easiest ways to do that is to plant them in egg cartons! Each egg well holds the perfect amount of potting soil. Just make sure to put the cartons on a water-proof surface.
Use packing peanuts or plastic bottles in large containers.
Large containers pack quite a punch when it comes to curb appeal. Filling them with potting soil can be expensive and it also makes the containers very heavy. To lighten the load and cut down on the potting soil, fill the bottom half of your containers with packing peanuts. A small amount of soil will slip down through the peanuts but most of it will stay at the top. Another option is to fill the bottom of a large container with plastic soda or water bottles.
Update: I heard from a reader that it’s best to put the packing peanuts in a mesh bag (like onions or oranges come in) before you add them to your container. This will keep the peanuts contained and they won’t float around in your dirt.
Use plastic bins for container gardening on a budget.
Plastic bins are a convenient and budget-friendly option for container gardens. They come in a variety of sizes and are very durable. Just make sure to drill holes in the bottom for drainage, and use the plastic bottle trick to cut down on the amount of potting soil needed to fill your bins.
Make your own weed killer.
No DIY gardening tips list would be complete without the mention of weeds. Sometimes weed killer is necessary, especially in the spring when weeds seem to be the only things growing. If you need a lot, it can get very expensive. A homemade recipe that works great is to combine one gallon white vinegar, one cup table salt and one tablespoon Dawn dish soap. Mix it all together in a garden sprayer and show those weeds who is in charge!
Update: I heard from a few readers who said that using salt can deplete the soil. If you are killing weeds in a spot where you aren’t planning to plant, go ahead and use the salt. If you are using the mixture in a place where there are existing plants, or where you plan to plant, just leave out the salt. In this case, you will need a different ratio. For every cup of vinegar, use 2 tablespoons of dish soap. The vinegar will kill the weeds, and the dish soap helps it stick until they are dead.
Pinch back herbs and flowers for fuller plants.
Pinching back the tops of some plants is a good way to stimulate growth and encourage the plants to fill out. Pinching is a type of pruning that can be done with your fingers on tender stems. Find a set of leaves and pinch the stem right above them. Do this when the plant is young and you will end up with bushy, lush plants.
Line containers with coffee filters to keep in the dirt.
Container gardening is becoming more and more popular but with it comes certain challenges. Rule #1 when planting a container is that it must have proper drainage. That means a hole in the bottom of your pot. To prevent all your potting soil from slipping through the hole, line your container with a coffee filter. It will let the water through but not the soil! Don’t have any coffee filters? A double layer of paper towel will work too!
I hope you have learned a new DIY gardening tip or two. Now go out and do some digging!
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