By LISA BURNS
Special to Live Local! magazine
Many household and everyday items can be re-purposed into decorative garden art. Take a look at Pinterest or Hometalk and you will find ideas from headboard benches and washing machine tub fire pits to tire planters and clay pot scarecrows. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
But what you might not know is there are hundreds of small items you use every day that can be re-purposed into useful tools for your garden. Here are a few tricks using items you may already have in your home:
• Place a layer of newspaper or cardboard in your garden beds before planting to keep the weeds out, then cover with pinecones or pine needles as mulch/bedding.
• Cardboard egg cartons and toilet paper rollers are perfect for starting seed indoors. The carton or roller can be transplanted directly in the ground and it will biodegrade.
• Do you enjoy a good camp fire? Fill a toilet paper roller with dryer lint and use as a fire starter. A mason jar with a bit of sandpaper glued to the top works great to store your matches.
• Milk jugs make great watering cans. Just puncture a few holes in the lid. Need a scooper in a pinch? Cut out the handle of a ½ gallon milk jug along with a portion of the side of the jug shaped like a shovel and you have a quick garden scoop.
• For pots with holes use a coffee filter or packing peanuts to keep the dirt in and help with drainage. For plants that need constant moisture place an unused diaper in the bottom of the pot. The diaper has the same absorbing beads in it that are sold in the nursery.
• Rain barrels, earth-boxes and compost bins can all be made from Rubbermaid totes.
• Pantyhose cut into strips or hair clips work
as garden ties to keep your tomato plants on the trellis.
• Cut off the bottom of a plastic water or soda bottle to create a funnel or along with cutting the bottom off, poke it full of holes and plant it upside down in a pot for an easy watering port.
• To keep your fingernails clean when gardening, run your nails over a bar of soap to keep the dirt out. Better yet, use dishwashing gloves when planting as they are water-proof.
• CDs or DVDs hung from the trees as reflectors will keep animals from your veggies or egrets away from your pond fish.
• Glass bottles create a fun and colorful garden border while several curtain rods with finials attached will become an inexpensive and decorative hose guard.
• When planting a garden from seed you will need to use garden markers to remember what you planted. Instead of buying pre made markers, cut a vinyl mini blind or milk jug into 1” strips and write the plant name on the strip using permanent marker. Alternatives include tin can lids and used wooden spoons. Or glue the seed packet to a Popsicle stick. To keep track of the flowers in your garden punch a hole in the plant tags that come from the nursery and place on a key ring.
• Any container that will hold dirt or water such as milk jugs, coffee cans, mason jars, 5-gallon buckets and whiskey barrels can be used as a planter or a garden pond.
Lisa Burns is co-founder of Backyard Getaway, a landscaping company in Myakka City.
She can be reached through her website, BackyardGetaway.net.
Live Local! is a publication of LocalShops1, Tampa Bay's leading advocate for small businesses.