8 gardening hacks using everyday household items

Gardening is incredibly rewarding, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth. There are plenty of household items that will be lying around in abundance that you can use to give your plants a healthy boost. The gardening experts Greenhouse Sensation bring you eight amazing horticultural hacks that you need to start trying today.

  1. Baking soda

If you’re already familiar with household tips and tricks, you’ll know that baking soda is a very useful tool to have at your disposal, with plenty of uses for your garden too.

Notice that your flowers and shrubs are suffering from a little fungus? Mix three tablespoons of baking soda with a gallon of lukewarm water and spray the affected plants at least once a week. It should clear up in no time.

  1. Eggshells and coffee grounds

Did you know that some of your common kitchen waste items can be used to give your garden a boost? Weather you have a huge garden or a little composter, take your waste eggshells and coffee grounds and mix them into your soil. It’s a double win; they give your soil nutrients and help prevent blossom-rot on vegetables.

Eggshells can also be crushed into smaller pieces and sprinkled around plants to deter pests, encourage seedlings to grow and fertilise.

  1. Egg cartons

Every gardener feels a surge of happiness once the winter frost starts to melt and spring appears from around the corner. The perfect way to get a headstart on growing your seedlings is to use an empty egg cartons to plan them. Each egg hole can fit the perfect amount of soil, so simply place on a water proof surface, plant your seeds and watch them grow on your windowsill.

  1. Soap shavings

Squirrels can be adorable, but for gardeners they can also be a nuisance. There’s nothing worse than planting seeds and baby plants only to have squirrels dig up the soil and even the plants themselves. Want an easy way to solve this problem? Grate a bar of bath soap on the soil around your plants – depending on the size of your garden one or two bars should be plenty and it lasts for a good few weeks.

  1. Vinegar

Vinegar is an incredible tool to have in your gardening arsenal. It can be used to remove rust from your gardening tools, add a much needed sparkle and shine to plastic patio furniture, kill emerging weeds on your path, and it’s a chemical-free way to clean bird and butterfly feeders.

It’s also good to use during harvest season. Diluted vinegar can be used to scrub off those stubborn berry stains, and add a spoonful to your vase of water when displaying freshly cut flowers inside.

  1. Old pennies

Who doesn’t have a load of old rusty pennies lying around? Even those old foreign copper coins at the bottom of the kitchen drawer will work. Copper is an incredible fungicide so take the time to bury a few coins in places around your garden to keep the soil healthy and to fend off fungal infections.

  1. Aluminium foil

Did you know that while aluminium foil is pretty much 100% recyclable, it is often not accepted due to being covered in food waste? But don’t worry because you can use it in your garden instead.

Twist strips of foil around the branches of your fruit trees to protect from birds. It works by making a noise in the wind and reflects the light to put them off landing. And you can wrap the base of your young plants and shrubs with foil up to waist height to put off deer, rabbits and mice from feeding.

When you scatter your mulch, mix in small pieces of foil to deter pests that are sensitive to light away from your vegetable patch and plants.

  1. Newspaper and cardboard

If you’re working towards a chemical-free garden, then paper is your new best friend. Newspaper is biodegradable so can be placed under newly dug plant beds to kill off the grass and weeds and prevent them from growing back. It also encourages earthworms which can keep the soil healthy.

Add old newspaper to your compost heap to get rid of nasty smells. And there’s no need to worry about toxins from the ink; most modern publishers use soy which is an organic pigment.

Making the Most of your Garden this Summer

Although the great British Summer is notoriously unpredictable when it comes to the weather, the warm, sunny spells we’ve been having recently does give us a chance to make the most of our garden or outdoor space, whilst we can.  Due to being neglected during the winter months and the lack of sunshine we get in the summertime, many people are unsure how to make the most of their gardens when it begins to warm up. The thought of cutting bushes, potting plants and mowing lawns can be pretty daunting to some and many of us don’t have the money to go all out on the garden furniture, the built in BBQ’s and the hot tubs, but there are definitely simpler ways of enjoying the outdoors during a rare bit of British heat.


Dining Alfresco

No matter how big or small your garden is, when the sun is shining there is nothing better than taking your dinner to eat outside, with a nice cold drink. Whether you set out the table with a range of salads, cold meats and bread, or simply just cook your dinner inside and bring it out, there is something about dining alfresco that soothes the soul. If you haven’t already, it is definitely well worth investing in some garden furniture. It doesn’t have to break the bank, it can even be a simple little wooden or plastic set for two, but sitting out and eating at night, or enjoying a nice brew in the fresh morning sun is definitely a great way to utilise your outdoor space.

BBQ Time

BBQ it up

Following on from my last point, eating outside in the warm weather is a dream, and cooking in it is also a great change. You might already have a fancy BBQ where you can cook all kinds of fancy and yummy meats and fish, but even if you just buy a small, disposal one and cook a few sausages, it still counts! Everyone loves a hot dog so bbq’ing on a budget can be a simple task and a great excuse to get the family and friends together. ‘Build your own buns’ are a great, purse-friendly way to feed the five thousand. Cook a load of sausages on the BBQ, give everyone a hot dog bun and set out different ‘stations’ for the toppings (onions, mustard, ketchup, beef chilli etc). Fill a bucket with some ice and beers and voila! Everyone is happy – except maybe the veggies but there is always Quorn for that!

Get the Essentials

One of the great things about hot, summer days is sitting out late into the night and it still feeling warm (ish). However, if you want to make a habit of this (or do it as often as possible) there are some essentials that you will need to invest in. First of all, some outdoor lighting, from fitted lights with sensors to solar powered lamps, your lighting options depend on your budget and the size of your garden – so get researching! Secondly, small, mini fire pits are a great way to keep everyone outside once the sun goes down. You can buy them from major supermarkets for next to nothing and sitting around a campfire either toasting marshmallows or playing a few games is a welcome change from the TV indoors! Thirdly, bug spray – because they always try to spoil the fun.

Grow some Goodness!

You don’t need a huge space to grow a little of your own fruit and veggies this summer. A lot of us have been meaning to try this for ages but never get round to it – so now is your chance! Find a raised patch of soil and get planting some summer seeds. Nothing more rewarding than enjoying a salad with tomatoes you’ve grown yourself or a crumble with freshly picked raspberries and blackberries! You’ll be a domestic goddess in no time.

Outdoor Games

If you have grass in your garden, there is nothing better than a few good old fashioned games with family and friends to while away the hours. The games you can play even with just a single ball are endless and I’m sure everyone will enjoy unlocking their inner child for a good game of Piggy in the Middle – especially after a few drinks! A cricket set or a Rounder’s bat also cos very little from budget stores and can provide hours of (competitive) fun. If you’re more civilised or simply a little restricted on space, a pack of cards outside is the perfect entertainment!

Can you Guess the Flowers?

There is nothing like the look and scent of fresh flowers in your home. They are just wonderful for creating an ambiance, for bringing a touch of Spring, or a look of your garden inside your home, and they add an affordable attractiveness and elegance to any setting. Whether this is in the form of freshly cut blooms grown in your own garden, or shop bought bunches and bouquets, flowers add prettiness, colour and stunning fragrance to any room they grace.

But, when it comes to flowers, how many types of flowers can you actually name? I’m guessing that you will not have any trouble with roses, tulips and daffodils, you can probably also spot something very iconic like a Calla Lily, but what about other varieties? Can you spot a Chrysanthemum from a Petunia, or a Begonia from a Carnation? If you have flowers growing in your garden, it is crucial that you know and recognise them in order that you give them the right conditions to grow – the right soil, the amount of sunlight they prefer, all this is important to get the most from your shrubs.

Rattan Direct have recently put together a brilliant little quiz which tests your knowledge of plants and flowers and looks at how many you can actually recognise. The quiz is designed to find out whether you , in their words, ‘…need to swat up some more on your blooms, or whether you are already a bloomin’ expert gardener!’

You can find the quiz here and give yourself a fun test. You may just discover that you are a new Alan Titchmarsh or Charlie Dimmock, or, like me, you may need to brush up your knowledge to ensure you are getting the best from your garden and growing the most beautiful blooms.