Useful Tips That Make Gardening More Enjoyable

Everyday Cheapskate


April 2023 Issue
Everyday Cheapskate by Mary Hunt

I’m anything but a master of the soil, but I sure love to putter in my vegetable and flower gardens. And this year, with food prices continuing to soar, I am more motivated than ever to grow as much of our food as humanly possible.

Over the years, I’ve discovered quite a few handy tips that make my gardening so much more enjoyable. I hope you find something here that will help you, too!

Cut the leg portion from a pair of spent, clean pantyhose. Drop a soap bar into the toe, tie a knot over it and tie the other end to an outdoor water spigot. Gardeners can easily wash up after work. Such a great idea because the soap is always handy, clean and dry.

Make a temporary garden out of a plastic kiddy pool. It’s just the right size for beginners and children because it can be placed in the best light, easily disassembled, and put away for the winter.

For beautiful azaleas, gardenias and other acid-loving plants, add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to 1 quart of water and use to water occasionally. Hint: Instead of tossing out the vinegar water used to clean your coffee maker or shower head, recycle it in the garden.

Wear golf shoes or other spiked athletic shoes while mowing the lawn. You will aerate the grass roots with each step, allowing much-needed oxygen and water to nourish the lawn. Not a golfer? Search online for “lawn aerator shoes.” You’ll find heavy-duty spikes—much beefier than golf spikes—that strap onto your shoes. They remind me of my first roller skates (complete with a key—remember that?). Such a great idea.

Mark the handles of your gardening tools with 1-inch increments. Use a permanent marker or cut pieces of duct tape. You will no longer need a ruler when planting or spacing plants, shrubs or flowers.

Use a child’s plastic snow sled as an off-season garden cart. It glides easily over the grass for cleanup chores and is especially handy when lifting and dividing clumps of perennials.

Test old seeds to see if they’re worth planting: Place 10 seeds on a dampened paper towel. Cover with plastic to keep them moist. Set in a sunny place like a windowsill. Check seeds after the germination time listed on the package has passed. You can still use the packet if at least a few seeds germinate. Just be sure to sow the seeds more heavily than usual.

Try this on your lawn every three weeks during the summer: Mix 1 (12-ounce) can of regular beer, 1 cup of no-tears baby shampoo (make sure it is not antibacterial), and nonsudsing household ammonia. Pour the beer and shampoo into a 32-ounce hose-end sprayer jar. Fill the jar with ammonia and apply according to the hose-end sprayer instructions for coverage at 2000 square feet (4 ounces per gallon). You’re going to have very happy grass.

To prevent the hose end from becoming attached to the spigot so tightly that you cannot easily remove it without the aid of tools, rub a light coating of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on the garden-hose nozzle and the spigot to keep them from sticking.

Don’t throw those clippings in the trash when you catch the grass while mowing the lawn. Instead, spread grass clippings around plants to repel weeds. The clippings also retain moisture and are a good source of nutrients.

With eyes for the future, plant deciduous trees (the type that loses its leaves in winter) on the south side of your house. They will provide summer shade without blocking the winter sun. Plant evergreens on the north side to shield your home from cold winter winds.

Do you have a great gardening tip you’d like to share with the EC Community? Join us at Hint: Use the Contact form to submit your best frugal tips and ideas.

Mary invites you to visit her at, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living. ©2023 CREATORS.COM

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