Last Updated on March 26, 2021
This is my first year having a true garden, and so far I'm loving the time I get outside playing in the dirt and absorbing the sunshine, but I desperately needed some gardening tips and ideas. As a beginner, I'm learning a lot of things that will make next year's garden easier, and hopefully a little healthier, too. I don't want to win the prize for the largest squash (not there yet), but I do want enough juicy tomatoes to last all summer long.
Whether you like to get your hands dirty in the garden or not, it's nice to have a few gardening tips and ideas up your sleeve. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for your yard that I hadn't heard of before. I thought they were all pretty clever, but then again, I'm still a rookie at this soil and seed stuff!
1. Pot-in-Pot Landscaping
I don't know about you, but I'm not a huge fan of redoing the landscaping every time the seasons change. Don't get me wrong, I love the time outdoors, but the shovel and I are not best friends. Here's an idea that was a bit of an “aha” moment for me. Dig a hole for your seasonal plants and fill it with an empty plastic pot. Now you can just drop your seasonal flowers (or herbs and veggies) in there and easily switch them out once they're ready to retire.
2. Packing Peanuts & Pots
Because packing peanuts still allow for good drainage, they are perfect for lightening the load in large flower pots. They are also cheaper than soil, so now you can justify a $4 cup of coffee while you get the job done. Just be sure to add a layer of landscape fabric over the top of them so that the soil doesn't slowly sink to the bottom.
3. Give Your Garden A Calcium Boost
My blender rarely sees daylight, but now it might just get the chance to see the kitchen counter with this genius tip! I'm starting to understand the idea behind compost a little more now that I'm dabbling in the garden, so this just makes a lot of sense to me. Just like grinding your food makes it easier to digest, grinding eggshells makes it easy for your garden to absorb the calcium egg shells provide.
4. Keep The Pets Out
Animals (cats especially) seem to think all of the hard work you've put into your garden looks like a huge litter box. To keep them from pooping on your basil, strategically place a few plastic forks around your plants to deter them from destroying your fresh herbs, fruits, and veggies.
5. Rubbermaid Container Garden
Just because you don't have much of a yard doesn't mean you can't have a nice little garden going! Rubbermaid storage containers are lightweight and just the right size to get you started. Fill the bottom with packing peanuts and a layer of garden fabric to keep them easy to move. This could even work on a small apartment balcony!
6. Diapers Retain Moisture
Diapers aren't just for doo doo! Place one in the bottom of a potted plant to help it retain moisture for longer. This would be great for those summer annuals that require daily watering.
7. Epsom Salt in the Garden
Epsom salt has so many uses, including aiding in a beautiful and healthy garden. It's rich in magnesium and sulfate which are crucial to plant life. For potted plants, mix a couple of tablespoons of the salt into your watering can once or twice a month. You can also sprinkle it in your garden's soil to help your seeds germinate better. Tomatoes and peppers benefit the most because they both tend to have a magnesium deficiency. Add a tablespoon or so in with the soil when first planting, and then sprinkle more into the soil once mature.
8. Fertilize Your Plants
Save your vegetable cooking water! The water has a lot of nutrients that your garden thrives on. Wait for the water to cool down first, and then use it to “fertilize” your garden or potted plants. This makes for a green and happy garden! You could also drink the stuff, but who wants to do that?!
9. Seeds & Citrus
Start your seedlings in a citrus peel, and not just because it's really cute; It will compost in the soil and nourish the plants, so you can just go ahead and plant the whole thing once it's ready. Just don't forget to poke a hole in the bottom for drainage.
10. Cinder Block Garden Bed
Not all of us have the skills to build a raised garden bed out of wood, and that's when cinder blocks come to the rescue. I love how they have all the holes so you can easily separate your herbs. For a smaller space, you could even take out 2 or more of the block to create a narrower bed. After you've got a level place to start your garden, the rest is pretty simple! Check out the full details here.
11. Line Pots with Coffee Filters
I really like this idea for my indoor plants! Every time I water them in the sink, I lose a lot of the soil down the drain, not to mention the mess it makes under the pot. Coffee filters allow the water to still drain, but keep the dirt contained.
12. Eggshell Starters
Get your garden started early by planting your seeds in eggshells indoors before the weather permits outdoor growth. There are several reasons why eggshells are the perfect pot for this, but the biggest is that they are cheap (free really), full of calcium to give your seedlings that extra boost, and easy to plant in the garden when ready (the shell can stay on!).
13. Roses in Spuds
First of all, I had no idea you could grow a rose bush just from the trimmings of another bush. I love all of this new found information — I've never been so excited about my garden! Push the bottom ends of your rose trimmings into a small potato to help it retain moisture as it develops roots. Read the details here.
14. Stop Invasive Plants
Simply cut the bottom off of a plastic pot and bury it in the ground! Use it for invasive plants that tend to grow too large and take over your garden. This simple garden technique limits the growth of the root system, giving you better control over the size of the plant once it reaches maturity, and also protects the plants around it. Check out the details here.
15. Plastic Pot Watering System
Place a sink pot (empty plastic nursery pot with holes) in the middle of your garden to create a well for easier and deeper root watering. This is especially helpful for squash. As the roots mature, they get deeper and deeper into the ground's soil, making it harder for the water to reach in a dry climate. Read the full details here.
16. DIY Mini Greenhouse
Get your seedlings off to a good start with their very own little greenhouse! The bottom 3/4 part of a plastic soda bottle makes for the perfect little dome to cover your little pots with. You can also use the top of the bottle, just keep the cap on. You want high humidity! This would be a fun project to get the kids involved with.
17. Pinch Your Herbs
Pinch the upper portions of your herb plant stems off (basil in particular) to encourage new leaf growth. Herbs have a natural instinct to stay alive and multiply, so when they are pinched, they send a signal to the dormant leaf buds to grow. It's strange how this works, but it's true for most plants.
18. Homemade Rain Barrel
How resourceful is this?! Collect the rain directly from your gutter spouts, and use it to water your garden, lawn, and potted plants. You will just need a heavy duty trash can, a drill, a pair of pliers, and a few other basic tools. Doable! Read more about it here.
19. Dry Creek Bed Garden
To break up a large portion of the yard, consider a dry creek bed for added visual interest. It not only looks fabulous, but it's also great for landscape drainage and redirecting rain water on a slope. And, it very low maintenance!
20. Homemade Weed Killer
These three combined every-day household ingredients are great for getting rid of weeds! Even if you love working in the yard, chances are, pulling weeds just gets in the way of all the fun. You've probably already got all of these ingredients handy in the kitchen, too.
*Be careful because this solution can be harmful to grass as well, so it's best used in sidewalk cracks, landscape borders, and other areas where grass, flowers, and other plants won't be affected. Also, if you spray them when they are exposed to direct sunlight, it works its magic a lot faster.
21. DIY Water Fountain
Each year I try to up the ante on my front porch atmosphere with a new diy garden idea. Spring and summer season just isn’t long enough for a complete overhaul of our fire pit, front porch and front yard. So, I make it a goal to at least invest in one small outdoor improvement each year. After seeing this Easy DIY Water Fountain, I can’t wait to take this project on this spring. A calming diy water feature is the perfect project for spring and summer relaxing.
22. Get an early start on your Vegetable Garden
This may seem like a no-brainer to most. But if you are a novice follow this tip. If you would like to harvest from your garden all summer long it's important to get an early start. Frosts can kill young plants. Give your seeds a head start inside so that they are ready to go into the ground as soon as possible. Not to mention starting plants from seeds saves you lots of money! Check out this article about WHEN TO PLANT YOUR VEGETABLE GARDEN. Then get those seeds started using a premixed seed starter soil. Using the right seed starting soil is really the key to getting off to a great start on your garden. Seed starting soil gives your plants healthy growth that will keep them strong all season long.