13 Clever Hacks That Will Save Gardeners Time And Money

Gardening Hacks

As an avid gardener for many years, I’ll be the first to admit that gardening is often dirty, time-consuming, and just plain hard work! But I’ve grown increasingly fond of the less-than-glamorous aspects of gardening over time, and now I actually look forward to getting my hands dirty in the garden (even if it does leave me a sweaty, grimy mess.) ;-)

Another thing that has made gardening more enjoyable for me is seeking out useful tips and tricks that can make the process easier. And since the time for planting is just around the corner, I thought I’d share some of those helpful gardening hacks with you in today’s post!

So here are 13 hacks you can put to use in your own garden, and may they make this growing season your most enjoyable one yet! :-)

13 Of The Most Creative And Useful Gardening Hacks

Gardening Hacks

1. Make Your Own Seed Tape

Planting seeds one at a time can be time-consuming and back-breaking labor. Make it faster and easier by making your own seed tape before planting—it’s a fun project and you can sit comfortably while you do it! ;-)

Once of the nice things about seed tape is that you do all the spacing while you’re making it. So when you’re ready to plant, all you’ll have to do is dig a narrow trench at the proper depth, roll out the tape, then cover and water it in! Easy.

2. Deter Pests With Peppermint Oil

Not only does peppermint essential oil repel ants and spiders, but it can also help keep aphids, beetles, caterpillars, and even mice at bay. To use this to your advantage in the garden, add 15 drops of peppermint oil to a small glass spray bottle, then fill the remainder of the bottle with water.

Spritz your peppermint spray around the perimeter of your garden, or around the outside of your pots. Shake the bottle before each use and reapply often, and your plants will thank you for it!

Gardening Hacks

3. Save Space With Container Gardening

You don’t have to have a lot of extra space at home to be able to grow things. Even if you have just a few square feet of space outside, you can even grow potatoes in containers (and it’s surprisingly easy!)

Related: This Natural Homemade Weed Killer Is The Cheapest & Easiest Way To Kill Weeds Fast

Gardening Hacks

4. Use A Milk Jug As A Watering Can

No watering can? No problem! You can fashion one out of an empty milk jug in about 30 seconds.

Just wash out the milk jug and use a craft knife to poke several small holes in the cap. Fill the clean jug with water, screw on the cap, and get watering!

Gardening Hacks

5. Save Your Eggshells

Instead of tossing out empty eggshells, save them to use in your garden! Eggshells make a great fertilizer because they’re rich in calcium and other minerals that your plants need.

Sprinkle crushed eggshells into the holes before planting, or sprinkle them around the base of established plants every few weeks. You can also scatter crushed eggshells around your vegetables and flowers to deter common garden pests like slugs, snails, and even stray cats!

Read More: 8 Smart Reasons You Should Be Saving Your Eggshells

Gardening Hacks

6. Make A Multi-Purpose Tool Holder

It’s important to keep your garden tools clean and sharp. But why do the hard work yourself when you can make a self-cleaning, self-sharpening garden tool holder that will do it for you? ;-)

All you need is to make your own is a spare pot, a bit of oil, and some sand.

Gardening Hacks

7. Use Water Twice

No matter what kind of plants you grow, they all need water! And they’re not picky about where that water comes from.

Save the water you use when you boil or steam veggies, pasta, eggs, etc. and use it to water your plants! (Just make sure to let the water cool to room temperature before using it—you don’t want to scald your plants!)

Gardening Hacks

8. Pamper Your Hands

There’s something undeniably satisfying about working in the dirt with your hands, but cleaning up the aftermath? Not so much…

…unless you’ve mixed up a jar of my Gardener’s Hand Scrub, that is! I highly recommend it to anyone who gardens or has flower beds, because it’s one of the few hand scrubs I’ve tried that cleans and exfoliates my hands and keeps them moisturized too.

Gardening Hacks

9. Use Cardboard Tubes To Start Seeds

We could all stand to do a little more reducing, reusing, and recycling, and gardening offers a lot of opportunities to reuse household items. One such opportunity is to start your seeds in empty toilet paper tubes.

Once your little sprouts are ready to transplant to the garden, saturate the cardboard tube with plenty of water before putting it in the ground. Soggy cardboard will break down quickly in the ground so that it won’t hinder the growth of your young plant.

Related: 12 Surprisingly Practical Things You Can Do With Cardboard Tubes

Gardening Hacks

10. Use A Milk Jug To Protect Plants

Cut the bottom off of an empty milk jug and use it as a “mini greenhouse” of sorts. Set it over small, tender plants to protect them from frost during the early part of the growing season. You can also use it to keep bugs and pests away from those temptingly tender leaves of young plants.

Gardening Hacks

11. Keep Your Seeds Organized

Having a hard time keeping your collection of seed packets organized? Try storing them in the sleeves of a photo album instead!

Not only does the album make it easy to keep track of your packets, but the sleeves will also help hold the packets shut so their contents don’t spill out all over the place.

Gardening Hacks

12. Put Sponges In Your Pots

Over-watering and under-watering are two of the most common issues that can affect the health of your potted plants. But luckily for us, finding that sweet spot for watering can be as easy as adding a few sponges to the bottom of to pot before planting!

If the soil gets overly wet, the sponges will help absorb excess moisture while preserving airflow that will help prevent root rot. And if the soil starts to dry out, the saturated sponges can act as a water reserve to help keep the plant hydrated.

produce wash

13. Clean Your Harvest With A Produce Wash

Before you chow down on that fresh, tasty produce you brought in from your garden, clean it with a produce wash first! And you can make your own produce wash at home using simple ingredients you may already have on hand: bacteria-banishing white vinegar and purifying lemon essential oil.

Once you’ve made your produce wash, all you have to do is spray down your produce, give any hard-skinned fruits and veggies a quick scrub, then rinse everything under clean water and dry it. Easy! :-)

Get the full recipe and detailed instructions for making your own produce wash here.

Do you have any clever hacks that you use in your own garden?

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Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • Impressive Thanks for the post. really like your blog and this article is so convincing & informative. You’re doing a great job Man, Keep it up.
    Once again thanks for the information.
    plz, check my Housekeeping & organizing blog, and suggestions for improving its ranking.

    • As long as you let it dry fully and store it well (airtight container in a cool, dark spot), it won’t go bad. Therefore, you can make them at your convenience and plant them when you want to.

  • I tried the seed tape last spring and was thrilled with the results. Two packets of seeds produced beautiful zinnias all the way around my semi circular driveway! Neighbors were amazed. At the end of their blooming season, Hurricane Sally blew them over. Within a few weeks the entire area between the driveway and the street was filled with zinnias from seedlings that came from my seed tape zinnias! I have shared your tip on the seed tape with many friends and neighbors. Thank you so much for posting this.

    • That is SO awesome! So you kind of just “spread a little love” all over and didn’t even hardly try! Imagine how many times your flowers (in someone else’s yard!) made someone smile during rough times! God bless you…what a beautiful story! :-)

  • l use broken up polystyrene in the bottom of my deeper tubs, to provide frost protection, aid water run off , reduce cost on compost, and weight then lay the ‘sac’ of a disposable nappy across the styrene before filling with compost to assist water retention in the soil. (loads of neighbours and friends save their polystyrene packaging and/or the remaining disposable nappies their babies grow out of for me, and in return l fill their containers and baskets with bright flowers.

  • An observation in the website design – right now there’s ads directly under each photo, and that means when we read the gardening tip we don’t see the photo right photo. The text for the “Keep Your Seeds Organized” tip is directly over the photo about sponges, so it looks like the wrong photo.

    • I have always noticed that as the ads drive me crazy! I wish that the picture would be directly BELOW the description and information. Example: How to hem the dress, write all about it, and then you look at the corresponding picture showing the hemming of the dress! I know…dumb, but just trying to give an example!

  • The soft containers are awesome. I bought some three years ago and love them. I had been looking for pots that were wide but not deep. Most herbs and flowers only need 4 – 5 inches of soil. The pots I was finding got taller as they got wider. And more expensive. I didn’t and couldn’t afford both pots and soil to fill them. I found these pots and for $15 had what I wanted. They come in packs of ten and I bought 2 sizes. I did fold down the tops and put them at different heights next to my front steps, and got a compliment from my husband once the flowers took over. They are only supposed to last 3 years before they go to the compost pile. But I didn’t use all of them, and storing these are easy since they fold flat.

    • In case anyone questions “charcoal”, here it is on Google:
      “Activated charcoal rids the soil of impurities, repels insects, and prevents told and doors. It’s also extremely porous, meaning that when you drown your leafy friends in water, it will absorb the excess, thereby preventing root rot.”

  • Placing sponges (or pieces of) at the bottom of the pot to absorb excess water and/or provide moisture for a plant is a clever idea indeed. Who’d have thought. Thanks.

    • I have very large pots for my herbs and Rhubarb. Instead of sponges I use the bad styrofoam popcorn. I fill it 1/3 up. They don’t degrade over time . I cover with coffee filters then soil. I do this for flower pots as well. This allows me to move the pots even with my bad back, gives drainage, and lasts for 10 years so far. The sponges are great for smaller pots. I really like your site.

  • I re-use my K-Cups by using them as seed starters. Remove the old contents, put in potting soil and seeds, then punch a few extra holes in the bottom. When sprouted to the right size, replant.

  • You can also use the crystals found in baby’s nappies/diapers to keep your plants hydrated. Just buy the cheapest diapers (as you are going to destroy them) then remove the crystals and mix with the compost. Easy as!

  • Milk jugs are a good “temporary” greenhouse, to protect from frost. But do not let the leaves touch the plastic. That will cause the plant to freeze there. If you need something to protect newly planted garden veggies, etc. from frost search “hot caps”, it is a wax paper product that farmers use. As the plant grows, the farmer opens the hot cap to allow for growth but still keeps the cap on the plant for protection.
    Also remember if you have a Jug, etc. on the plant, the plant is now ‘tender’. It has been protected from the wind. You need to ‘harden’ the plants, just removing the jug will likely set the plant back.

  • It’s fine to re-use cooking water as long as salt hasn’t been added to the water! That would surely kill your plants :-(. Thanks for all your hard work making yours one of my favorite newsletters! :-)

    • When I cook pasta, potatoes or veggies, I use 1-2 bayleaves instead of salt. You won’t notice the difference and it minimizes the amount of salt in your diet. Then you could use this for your plants. Also after cleaning out the fish tank. The old water for your plants , watch them grow.

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