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24 Genius Gardening Hacks You’ll Be Glad You Know

This collection of helpful landscaping hints will give you effective new techniques to get the beautiful garden and backyard you’ve always wanted.

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Genius gardening hacksPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

Plant-in-a-Pot Landscaping Design

Ever wish you could reorganize your garden after seeing how the mature plants look? Here’s a clever way to do it. You’ll need a bunch of pots of the same size, so they’ll nest in each other. Put your plants in doubled pots, and then bury them at ground level. Whenever you want a change, lift out the top pot and put in a different one. This method is also really slick for bringing plants indoors over the winter. This method is great for quickly changing out seasonal plants, and allows for easy experimentation with colour and placement of plants and flowers.

Can’t decide what to grow in your planter pots? We’ve rounded up the best annuals for containers.

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Saving Soil with Old Cans

For deep planters, fill the bottom with old cans and plant pots. The cans and pots improve drainage and create air pockets for better aeration and healthier soil.

Are you a novice green thumb? Here’s what you should know before starting a garden.

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Wood plank HH Handy Hint Lawn edgingPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

Simple Lawn Edging

To edge your lawn, garden, or flowerbed, lay down a 2×6. While holding the board with your foot, drive a flat spade along the board’s edge. Move the board as needed to create a clean, straight line.

Find out 18 things you should never do to your lawn.

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Genius gardening hacksPhoto: Family Handyman

Micro Greenhouse

Do you have a hard time starting seeds or cuttings? Try soda bottle greenhouses. Cut the bottom off 2-litre soda bottles and remove the labels. Each seed gets its own micro greenhouse! Remove the greenhouses once the seeds have germinated and cuttings are rooted.

No budget for new planter pots? No problem! Take inspiration from these thrifty repurposed garden containers.

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HH Handy Hint Plant seeds in toilet paper tubesPhoto: Family Handyman

Cardboard Seed Tubes

For an easy and green way to start seeds, save your toilet paper and paper towel tubes. Cut the tubes into two in. lengths and set them in a waterproof tray. Fill the tubes with potting soil and plant your seeds. When the seedlings are ready to move to the garden, plant them right in their cardboard tube. The cardboard will decompose. Be sure to keep the tube below the soil surface, so it doesn’t wick moisture away from the roots.

Want to do your part to save the honeybees? Add these bee-friendly plants to your yard, garden or balcony.

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Genius gardening hacksPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

Fertilize Dense Plants

Fertilizing bushes or other dense plants requires getting the fertilizer to the base of the plant, so I use a length of 2″ PVC. Slide one end down to the plant base and pour the fertilizer into the pipe. Cut the top of the pipe at 45 degrees to give yourself a larger opening to pour in the fertilizer. —Gordon R. Watson

Not all bugs are pests! Here’s how to roll out the welcome mat for insects that are actually good for your garden.

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HH Handy Hint Sponges stay plants stay hydratedPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

Healthy Plant Hydration

Water settling at the bottom of pots can lead to root rot. To combat this problem, cut up old sponges and put them in the bottom of the pot. The sponges retain moisture and create necessary air space. They also help prevent water from flushing out the bottom. The sponge acts as a water reserve and keeps soil moist longer.

Interested in growing a healing garden? Consider adding these medicinal plants to your plot.

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HH easy mulch spreading handy hint bucketsPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

Easy Mulch Spreading

Getting mulch up close to flowers and bushes is easier if the mulch is in a small container. So I place buckets and pails in my wheelbarrow and fill them up with mulch. It doesn’t matter much if the mulch misses the bucket and lands in the wheelbarrow. Once you’re done dumping the buckets, dump what’s left in the wheelbarrow in an open area and spread it out. —Eric Swartz

These colourful plants are guaranteed to brighten up your landscape.

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Genius gardening hacksPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

Greenhouse from the Salad Bar

The next time you hit up a salad bar for lunch, save the plastic clamshell container. It can be reused as a mini greenhouse for starting seeds in the spring. When you’re finished with your lunch, wash the container thoroughly. Use an awl and hammer to punch a few small holes in the top part of the container for airflow. Then fill the bottom half with potting mix or your own special seed-starting soil. Plant your seeds, spreading them out in the container as suggested on the seed packet. Give the seeds a small drink of water and close the lid. Place the container in a sunny spot, and patiently wait for your seeds to sprout!

The clear plastic container acts like a greenhouse, allowing the sun and warmth to reach the plants while holding in moisture.

Get the biggest bang for your buck with these high-impact yet inexpensive plants.

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Genius gardening hacksPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

To-Go Coffee Cup to Water Plants

A clean to-go coffee cup with a lid makes an excellent watering can. The hole in the lid is the perfect size for pouring the water slowly, so you don’t overwater your plants. This quick watering can is especially useful for plants such as aloe vera and cacti that don’t require much water, as well as office plants. Be sure to wash the cup and lid thoroughly before reusing it as a watering can.

Check out more inspired indoor gardening ideas.

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Coffee Filter Dirt Stopper 2Photo: Family Handyman

Coffee Filter Dirt Stopper

Every spring, I spend a lot of time adorning my deck with flowers. I love every part of it: potting the seedlings, daily watering and relaxing in my lounge chair relishing their beauty. But there’s one thing that drove me nuts. I used to have trouble keeping the dirt from flowing out the bottom of my potted plants when I watered them. I tried using larger stones in the bottoms of the pots, but that didn’t completely solve the problem.

The solution was to place a coffee filter at the bottom of the pot before filling with dirt. The coffee filter stops the dirt while still allowing the water to flow through and not waterlog the plant. Now I have solved one of my tiny pet peeves and can move on with my life! —Kevin Daniel

Find out more clever uses for coffee filters in your home and garden.

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milk jug watering can 2Photo: FamilyHandyman.com

How to Turn an Empty Milk Jug Into a Watering Can

I only own one watering can, so I need to refill it four or five times to water all of the plants on my patio. Instead of buying more overpriced watering cans, I use old milk jugs. I drill a few holes in the caps, fill up the jugs with water and I’m good to go. —Harrison Berg

Find out 50 more things to repurpose.

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epsom salt fertilizerPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

Epsom Salt Fertilizer Trick

Epsom salt (hydrated magnesium sulfate) is known for its home remedy uses, but the garden might be the place that it shines the most. Like store-bought fertilizers, Epsom salt contains magnesium, which aids in seed germination, chlorophyll production and absorption of vital nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus.

Most plants grow better with a ratio of two teaspoons to one gallon of water per month. You can also dilute the Epsom salt with water in a bottle and apply as a foliar spray. Misting the plant greatly increases its growth. This works especially well on vegetables and roses. —Taylor Peterson

Don’t miss these tips for growing a vegetable garden—anywhere!

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Genius gardening hacksPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

New Use for Old Backyard Game Pieces

We spend a ton of time planting, fertilizing and watering our flowers. Once, while dragging the hose across the yard, I inadvertently raked it across the garden and destroyed a bunch of flowers. My solution was to make a path for the hose using the wickets from my croquet set. As I’m watering, I feed the hose through the wickets, keeping my flowers safe. —Ryne Rover

If you do these simple autumn chores this September, you’ll save work next spring and help your garden survive winter.

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zip-tie vine winderPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

Control Your Climbing Plants with Zip Ties

Getting my vines to run up just how I want can be tricky. To direct the vines, I fasten zip-ties around the stalks, strapping them to anything stable. Don’t strap the vines too tightly. They need to be able to move and grow. —Craig Sullivan

Make sure you never plant these flowers in your garden.

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chimney flue planters terra-cottaPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

Chimney Flue Planters

To make these terra-cotta planters, go to a brick supplier and buy 3-ft. lengths of clay chimney flue liner ($15 each). Cut them to different heights using a circular saw fitted with an abrasive cutting wheel. You can put them on a deck or patio, or accent your yard wherever you like—just pick your spots and bury the ends in the soil a little. 
 Fill the liners with gravel for drainage, leaving eight inches at the top for potting soil. Since the water can drain, the liners won’t crack if they freeze. Or just set pots on top of the gravel and bring in the plants for the winter. —Nancy Belmont

Want to keep the biting bugs at bay this summer? These are the best mosquito repellent plants.

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tarp for lawn clippingsPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

Invest in a Heavy-Duty Tarp

Nothing is quite so useful in landscaping projects as a durable tarp. It’s excellent for moving leaves, weeds, soil, and small rocks (among other materials) quickly and safely when working in the yard. You can also use it to cover plants or landscaping materials on a truck bed when transporting them or to protect projects from a fierce storm. Just don’t leave a tarp laying out on the lawn for too long, or it will kill your grass.

You’ll be glad these hilarious DIY disasters didn’t happen to you!

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FH05OCT_462_08_100 garden tool mailbox hideawayPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

Garden Tool Hideaway

A mailbox hidden behind shrubs near your garden provides a convenient home for tools. A small mailbox like this one costs less than $20 at hardware stores and home centres. King-size models cost about $35. Lynn Samples

These smart shed storage ideas will also help keep your garden tools organized.

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Easier vegetable plantingPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

Easier Vegetable Planting

We have a really big vegetable garden and I’m getting older, so the less time I have to spend hunched over on my hands and knees, the better. When I’m ready to plant new vegetables, I set aside my trowel and grab my posthole digger. Just one or two plunges into the soil for each plant and I’ve got perfectly sized holes for all my crops! —Barbara McGrew

Here are 10 vegetables you should start indoors.

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Genius gardening hacks Photo: FamilyHandyman.com

Truck-Bed Caddy

Pickup trucks are great for hauling big stuff, but small stuff has a way of sliding all over the place. To solve the problem, I made a simple caddy from 2x4s and fastened with deck screws. The compartments help small items like nursery plants stay put. —Tom Rawson

Check out more thrifty hacks for the outdoors.

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replanting flowersPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

A Better Way to Replant

When I bring home new flowers or shrubs for my garden, I avoid yanking them out of their plastic pots by the stems because it can hurt the plants. Instead, I use a sharp knife to cut down two or more sides of each pot to free the plant, being careful not to tear the roots when separating the soil from the container. —Leslie Poehler

Working with a tiny yard? These urban gardening tips are perfect for small spaces.

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5 gallon bucket No more rusty garden toolsPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

Use Mineral Oil and a Pot of Sand for Your Tools

This hack ensures your tools are always ready and clean. Find a pot or small bucket and fill it with clean sand. Take several of your most-used landscaping tools and stick them into the sand—they will stay upright and easy to grab this way. When finished for the day, spray your tools with a quick coat of mineral oil and put them back in the sand. Over time, the combination of mineral oil and sand will help clean your tools and keep them sharp.

These clever yard tool hacks will make your life so much easier.

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Citrus-rind seed startersPhoto: FamilyHandyman.com

Citrus-Rind Seed Starters

Grapefruit, orange and other citrus rinds are just the right sizes for starting new seedlings. I make a hole in the bottom of each one for drainage and add some damp seed-starting mix and seeds. Then, when it’s time to move them outside, I plant the whole works in the ground—peels and all. The citrus rinds make the soil more acidic, however, so I only do this with acid-loving plants like radishes, peppers and the like. —Judy Wilder

Check out more simple landscaping ideas for the perfect garden.

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5 gallon bucket tool bucketPhoto: Family Handyman

Tool Bucket

A five-gallon bucket comes in handy out in the garden—and not just for collecting weeds. You can load it up with all your gardening tools and carry them easily from place to place. If it starts to rain, protect the tools with the lid. But here’s the best part—it doubles as a portable stool when you need to rest or do some pruning. The only problem is that the lid can be hard to pry off. Solve that by cutting off all but two of the plastic tabs. The lid will go on and off in a snap. —Julie Abbott

Now that you’ve got these gardening hacks under your belt, check out 19 gardening tips that can save you time, money and effort!

Originally Published on The Family Handyman