30 Useful Tips That Will Change Your Garden For the Better

Ready to take your outdoor space to the next level? Use these practical, easy-to-use gardening hacks to change your garden for the better.

Gardening is a particularly gratifying hobby. While it gives you something to do when you’re feeling restless and bored, it also allows you to connect with nature and bring new life into the world in the form of your beloved plants. Those who don’t have a green thumb can’t fully understand the satisfaction of watching your garden flourish before your eyes. Of course, gardening also takes quite a bit of work. Take a look below at these useful (and easy-to-use) gardening hacks that will change your garden for the better.

1 Get a Shoe Organizer

Vertical Herb Garden With Shoe Organizer
Instructables

If you want to save a little space in your garden, you can create a vertical planting ground with an over-the-door shoe organizer. When you get the shoe organizer, stick a few holes in the bottom of each compartment to allow water to drain. Then fill each compartment with soil. After that’s done, you can put a different plant in each section.

This method is especially useful for creating an at-home herb garden. Loop the organizer over an outside door and there you have it—your own vertical herb garden that fits beautifully in any space.

2 Put Your Muffin Tin to Work

Muffin Tray Planting Grid
Do It and How

When planting your garden, the spacing of your plants is important. You want to give your shrubs enough room to grow, but you also want to ensure even spacing to create a pleasing aesthetic when your seeds sprout. If you’re looking to get your spacing completely perfect, pull out your muffin tin!

In the cleared area where you want to plant, push your muffin tin into the ground. Move it to the next space and push it in again, and so on and so forth until your entire planting area is covered in little muffin-sized pits. Then place your seeds in each of those pits and watch them sprout into beautiful plants.

3 Make Your Own Raised Garden Bed

Cinder Block Raised Garden
Decoredo

A raised garden bed adds something to your space and allows you to separate your plants from the rest of your yard. Unfortunately, if you don’t have one already built, putting a raised garden bed together can be a pain. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to create your own raised garden, purchase a few cinderblocks.

Arrange the cinder blocks in a rectangle and fill the middle of each one, and the large area in the center of all the cinder blocks, with fresh soil. You can plant all your shrubs in this small space, creating a confined area that’s easy to work with for your garden.

4 Create Pot Markers

Work Cork Pot Markers
Birds and Blooms

Once your seeds go into the ground, it can be difficult to keep all your plants straight. If you want to ensure that you know exactly what’s growing, especially if you’re growing edible things like vegetables, you’ll need pot markers.

Create your own labels by saving old wine corkers and spearing them with kebab skewers. Write the name of each plant onto the wine cork and stick the skewer into the ground near the corresponding plant. It adds a little whimsy to your garden. Not to mention, the wine corks are a cheap and effective way to make your own pot markers.

5 DIY Weed Killer

Heinz Vinegar Bottle
High Profile Green

Keeping the weeds at bay is an essential part of caring for your garden. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get rid of those unwanted plants, you’re probably turning to weed killer.

While store-bought weed killer is effective, it’s also filled with harsh chemicals that may damage your garden, rather than help it. Plus, the cost of weed killer can add up over time. To eliminate those problems, make your own weed killer at home using natural ingredients. Simply mix up a little dish soap, vinegar and salt, pop it into a spray bottle, and watch those weeds disappear.

6 Use Newspaper

Newspaper Laid Down in Garden
Kevin Lee Jacobs

While weed killer can rid your garden of weeds after they pop up, a little newspaper might keep the weeds from ever appearing in the first place.

As you’re planting your garden, layer the soil with a few pieces of newspaper. Newspaper still allows moisture to reach the roots of your plants, but it also creates a barrier that keeps weeds from rearing their ugly heads. The weeds will be unable to establish themselves in the soil, but your plants will flourish.

7 Easy Fertilizer

Epsom Salt as Plant Fertilizer
Family Handyman

While fertilizer is an essential part of keeping your plants healthy, you might not know that Epsom salt acts as an incredibly effective fertilizer for your shrubs. Epsom salt contains magnesium, which allows your seeds to germinate and helps your plants absorb vital nutrients they need to stay alive. It’s cheap, easy-to-use, and it will keep your plants healthy and your garden filled with greenery.

Use roughly two teaspoons of Epsom salt mixed with one gallon of water per month. Pour the mixture onto the base of your plants, then sit back and watch them grow!

8 Make Your Own Spray Collar

Can Weed Spray Collar
Bonnie Plants

Weed spray is the easiest way to rid yourself of those unwanted plants that pop up around your garden, but the spray comes with its own challenges. Each time you spray, you run the risk that you’ll get some weed killer on the plants that you do want, destroying the rest of your garden along with the weeds.

Thankfully, a spray collar solves that problem. Find an old can or small plastic bucket in your home and cut off the bottom and top to create one long cylinder. Then, place that cylinder over the weed you want to kill before spraying your weed killer directly into the collar. It limits the over-spray, and ensures that your weed killer is attacking only the plant you don’t want, sparing the rest of your garden from its deadly wrath.

9 Save Your Plastic Containers

Clamshell Food Container for Gardening
Family Handyman

If you don’t have any soda bottles handy to create your own mini greenhouse, you can also use plastic to-go containers from restaurants. Plastic clamshell containers are the perfect place to get your seeds started.

Wash your container thoroughly after you finish your food and fill the bottom with soil. Then place your seeds inside with enough space between them for each seed to grow. Close the container and set it near the window where it can soak in the sun. The plastic container keeps moisture locked inside while still allowing sun and warmth to reach your plant. Your seeds will sprout in no time!

10 Repurpose Toilet Paper Rolls

Toilet Paper Rolls Filled With Soil
Family Handyman

After you’re done with a roll of toilet paper, you’re left with a cardboard tube that doesn’t have any other use. Now, you can use that tube for your garden. When starting your seeds, take a waterproof container, and fill it with empty toilet paper tubes. Fill each tube with potting soil and plant your seeds right inside the cardboard.

When the time comes to move them to the garden, you can plant the cardboard tube right into the ground. The cardboard will decompose over time, but it will keep your seeds safe while they struggle to germinate.

11 Kill the Slugs

Dead Slug in Beer
susansinthegarden

Weeds aren’t the only things that might torment your garden. Hungry slugs can also slither through your greenery, ruining your plants for good. With a little beer, however, you can take care of your slug problem for good.

Simply put a dish of beer into your garden, near the area where you most often see slugs. The slugs will be drawn to the beer and the liquid will kill them, leaving your garden slug-free.

12 Convert Your Coffee Filters

Coffee Filter In Bottom of Pot
Paisley + Sparrow

When planting shrubs in potted plants, you want to allow water to ooze out of the bottom of the pot, but you don’t want the dirt to flow out with it. If you close off the bottom completely, you run the risk of water-logging your plants. If you don’t, you might lose some of the tightly packed dirt that keeps your plants healthy.

A simple coffee filter can solve your problem. Place the coffee filter at the bottom of your pot before filling it with soil. The coffee filter will allow the water to flow through, but it will keep the dirt trapped inside where it’s meant to be.

13 Weed When Wet

weeds
YouTube

Have you ever tried lifting weeds from the tough, dry ground? It’s not easy, is it? Dry ground is unforgiving and inflexible, so trying to tug weeds out from their roots is a difficult (sometimes impossible) task. It’s better to weed when the ground is wet.

Head out to your garden after a rainy day or create your own wet soil by drenching your garden with the hose. You’ll find that pulling weeds out of wet ground is much easier than tugging away at the dry ground. While the task may be a little messier, the disappearance of the weeds will be worth the extra mud.

14 Brew Fertilizer Tea

Bucket of Fertilizer Tea
Robin Sweetser

Weeds are annoying in more ways than one. While they interfere with the growth of your plants, they also soak up nutrients from your soil that your plants need to survive. When you pull weeds and throw them away, you’re essentially tossing out all those nutrients as well. But you don’t have to.

Instead, throw your weeds into a bucket of water after you pull them. Cover the bucket and allow the weeds to steep, just like a bag of tea. After a few hours, you can pour that water back onto your plants and throw the wet weeds away. The process returns a few of the nutrients you’re missing back to your soil.

15 Double Your Pots

Double Potted Plants
Family Handyman

When you start planting your garden, it’s incredibly difficult to imagine the finished product. While taking care of your plants is your first priority, you also want your garden to have an aesthetic appeal. It’s incredibly disappointing when your plants mature and ruin the image you had in your mind of your lovely garden.

To fix this problem, you can plan ahead before you even start planting. When placing your plants, bury them at ground level in two pots. As your plants grow, you can easily lift out the top pot and rearrange your garden. You can change out seasonal plants and mix up colors and placements at will, all the while keeping your precious greenery alive.

16 Change Your Tools

Post Hole Digger
Old World Garden Farms

When planting a vegetable garden, you probably spend a lot of time on your hands and knees, digging the holes you need to plant your vegetables. After a while, hunching over the ground and engaging in so much physical labor takes a toll on your body.

To make the process easier, use a posthole digger to quickly create a few holes deep enough for your plants. This method will be much quicker than digging each individual hole. Plus, your back and hands will thank you for taking some of the pressure off of them during your gardening.

17 Plant Your Soda Cans

Empty Soda Cans in Bucket
Family Handyman

If you have a deep planter, fill the bottom with old soda cans before placing your shrub. The cans create little air pockets that will aerate the soil, leading to healthier ground for your greenery.

With healthier soil, your plants will flourish, even in deep planters where you don’t have as much control over what’s happening underneath the surface. Who knew old soda cans could save your garden?

18 Careful Plant Removal

Removing Plant from Pot
Hawk Hill

Although your plant often grows in one designated pot, it certainly doesn’t have to stay in that pot forever. Sometimes you’ll bring home store-bought shrubs that you want to replant, or you may want to move your own plants out of their designated container. If you pull the plants up and out, however, you risk tearing the roots and damaging your shrub.

To avoid that problem,  take a sharp knife and cut down the sides of the pot. Once you have enough room, you can wriggle the plant out of the container, keeping most of the surrounding soil intact. Using this method, your plant is ready to be replanted, and the roots are thankfully preserved.

19 Make Edging Easier

Edging Lawn With Board and Spade
Family Handyman

While edging your garden, your biggest challenge is creating a straight line to surround your space. Thankfully, the solution to your problem is so incredibly simple.

Lay down a 2×6 board where you want the end of your garden to be. Make sure the board is laying straight and place your foot on top of it so it doesn’t move. Then, take a spade and shove it into the ground right at the edge of the board. Move your spade down the line until you reach the end of the board. Continue this process all around your garden, moving the board as needed. Once you’re done, you’ll have a clean, straight line that separates your garden from the rest of your yard.

20 Use Your Old Sponges

Sponge in Plant Pot
Pinterest

Too much water can be just as damaging as too little water for the plants in your garden. If water settles at the bottom of your pot, it can rot your roots, causing your precious plants to die.

To maintain a healthy balance of water for your plants, put old sponges at the bottom of your pot. The sponges will soak up the excess liquid that could damage your plants, while simultaneously maintaining enough moisture to keep your plants healthy.

21 Take Care of Your Tools

Gardening Tools of Sand Bucket
The Impatient Gardener

To take care of your garden, you have to take care of your tools. If you want to ensure that your tools are always ready and clean, all you need is a bit of mineral oil and a bucket of clean sand. The sand in the bucket allows you to stick your tools right in where they’ll stand upright, ready for the next use. When you’re ready to garden, you simply have to grab the handle and pull your tool out.

Once you’re finished with the tool, spray it with a bit of mineral oil and put it back in the sand. The combination of sand and mineral oil will keep your tools clean and sharp. Most importantly, it requires almost no effort from you.

22 Create a Tiny Greenhouse

Soda Bottles as Mini Greenhouses
Laidback Gardener

If you’re having trouble starting your seeds or cuttings in your garden, a tiny, at-home greenhouse might provide a solution. Take an empty 2-liter bottle of soda and remove all labels so you’re left with clear plastic. Then remove the bottom of the soda bottle and place it over the soil that houses your seeds or cuttings.

The result is a tiny greenhouse that allows your seeds to grow, protected from environmental factors that might interfere with their germination. Once your seeds have germinated or your cuttings have rooted, you can remove the soda bottle and allow your plants to grow on their own.

23 Fertilize With a PVC Pipe

Woman Fertilizing With PVC Pipe
Family Handyman

If your garden houses dense plants, fertilizing your greenery is a challenge. Your fertilizer has to reach the base of the plant, but it’s difficult to reach the base of close-packed shrubs. That’s when a PVC pipe comes in handy.

Cut a 45-degree angle at the top of the PVC pipe to create a larger opening. Then, place the other end of the pipe at the base of the plant you want to fertilize. Pour the fertilizer down the PVC pipe, ensuring that it lands right where it’s supposed to. The result is healthier plants with less effort on your part.

24 Scatter Soap

Soap Scattered In Garden
The Homespun Hydrangea

Sometimes hungry rabbits or deer unfortunately assume that your garden is their personal feeding ground. They’ll mulch away at your greenery, ruining all your hard work in one meal. Thankfully, soap provides a solution to this problem. Shred some soap in your food processor and scatter it among your plants. Don’t cover the entire ground, but leave a healthy supply of shavings interspersed with your mulch.

The smell of the soap will keep hungry animals away, but the soap itself won’t damage your plants. You’ll have to replenish your shreddings if they wash away, but other than that it takes very little effort for you to keep your plants safe.

25 Use Cardboard

Cardboard Laid on Ground in Garden
Gardening Know How

After you have your garden planted, you’re ready to lay down your mulch. Before you do that, however, you can add an easy protective measure that will help to keep your garden free of weeds. Before putting down your mulch, lay pieces of cardboard on the ground around your plants. Then lay the mulch on top of the cardboard.

The cardboard will block weeds from growing, eliminating the need to fill your garden with harsh chemicals and keeping your plants safe.

26 Make a Watering Hole

Small Dish with Water and Rocks
Garden Therapy

While some insects and animals are obviously unwanted in your garden, others are a welcome sight. Bees in particular don’t pose a threat to your plants, and their pollination techniques are crucial for the environment. Invite these little workers into your garden with a DIY watering hole.

Take a small dish and fill it with a tiny bit of water. Put rocks at the bottom of the dish to give visiting bugs somewhere to stand. Place it near your garden so the bees that visit your plants can take a fresh drink without drowning. The simple addition of water won’t cause bees to flood to your bushes, but it will be a nice treat for any insects who decide to fly by.

27 Produce a Watering Can

Milk Jug Water Can
Family Handyman

A watering can is one crucial tool for your garden, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Instead of purchasing a store-bought can, make your own with an empty gallon jug. Once you’re finished with the jug, fully rinse out the previous liquid. Take the cap of the jug and poke a series of tiny holes in the top.

Once that’s done, fill the jug with water and screw the cap back onto the top. After that, all you have to do is head out to your garden and tip the jug out over your plants. Water will pour out, drenching your shrubs in the much-needed liquid. It’s the perfect watering can if you’re gardening on a budget.

28 Improve Your Garden Soil

Egg Shells Around Plant
Homesteading

A thriving garden starts with thriving soil. When your soil is full of nutrients, your plants will grow bigger, stronger, and healthier. If you want to boost your soil, you don’t have to buy expensive products. In fact, you can use kitchen leftovers bound for the trash heap.

Banana peels, coffee grounds, and egg shells can all boost the nutrients in your soil. Simply plant these throwaway items in your garden and watch your greenery grow. You’d be throwing them out anyway—you might as well use your garbage for something meaningful.

29 Fill Your Soil With Plastic Forks

Forks in Garden
Shareably

Even animals that have no interest in eating your plants can tromp through your garden and ruin all your hard work. If you want to keep every critter out of your space, plastic forks might be your saving grace. With the pointy end up, stick forks intermittently throughout your soil.

By leaving little room for animals to walk, you’ll effectively keep them out of your garden. Plus, the forks won’t cause any damage to your plants.

30 Make Your Own Insect Spray

Homemade Bug Spray
Mommypotamus

While a weed spray will kill off the unwanted plants in your garden, an insect spray will keep away the beasts that want to feed on your plants. From snails to mosquitos, insects will be drawn to your garden. They’ll chew away at your leaves and might even bite you if you’re unlucky enough to run into them.

To take care of any insect problem, simply combine a healthy amount of garlic and mint, and put the mixture into a spray bottle. This cost-effective, organic spray will keep the insects away without harming any of your plants.


Cover photo credit: Shareably