August 11, 2015 – 2:55 PM (iStock)
Do you use tips and tricks to keep your lawn and garden looking great, things that your parents or even grandparents taught you? If so, chances are you’re an expert at lawn and garden hacks.
I never realized how many of these hacks I was exposed to growing up until I had a house of my own. For example, have a problem with slugs? Put out a dish of beer and watch your slug problem literally melt away. (Note: don’t try this if you have pets that spend any time outdoors.) Need to mulch your yard but don’t want to pay for mulch? Capture your grass clippings and spread them around accordingly.
Since buying my first house, I’ve come up with a few lawn and garden hacks of my own. Others have shared their frugal tips with me as well. Here’s my roundup of my awesome lawn and garden hacks.
1. Use newspaper to block weeds.
Don’t spend money on pricey weed-blocking cloth. Instead, take newspaper and spread it out where you’re hoping to block weeds and/or start a new garden bed. Place dirt, mulch or those aforementioned grass clippings on top to keep the newspaper in place and to smother those weeds.
2. Spray cooking spray on your lawn mower.
Want to keep clumps of grass from clinging to your mower blades? Try applying cooking spray on the blades before using. Note: if you have to turn your mower over to apply the spray—and your mower is a gas powered—please make sure the tank is empty first. Otherwise, you’ll have a gas spill to clean up, and I don’t have an awesome hack for mitigating gas spills.
3. DIY weed killer.
With two dogs running around the yard, I never want to use chemical weed killers anywhere near where they might run, play or lay basking in the sun. At the same time, I hate weeds. Which is why I do a lot of hand-pulling of weeds. Others swear by baking soda as a weed killer (and it shouldn’t hurt the dogs). I’ve also seen a DIY weed-killing recipe of vinegar, dish soap and salt. I tried it on my weeds but they just grew bigger. Maybe it only works on certain weeds? This is still a hack-in-progress.
4. Toss seeds in a sunny spot and see what happens.
A few years ago, after gutting pumpkins for Halloween, we tossed pumpkin seeds in with the grass clippings in a sunny spot in our yard. Then we promptly forgot we had done that until the next year when a pumpkin patch sprouted in that same sunny spot. We didn’t have to buy a single pumpkin for Halloween that year. One of these days I’m going to try the same with gutted seeds from a cucumber or a watermelon, and see if I can grow them as well.
5. Make a sharp (yet safe) surface to keep critters out of your gardens.
Does the local kitty like to treat your gardens as its own personal litter box? I’ve seen two hacks that make your garden inhospitable to little paws yet safe overall. The first is to put plastic forks, tines up, in the ground around your seedlings. The other is to gather pine cones and use them as mulch. No kitty is going to want to walk all over those pine cones. And to be honest the pine cone mulch is kind of pretty.
6. Mix a natural critter repellant.
You may love the smell of coffee, but supposedly animals do not. Some experts recommend sprinkling coffee grounds in your garden to keep critters at bay. Bonus: coffee grounds act as a natural fertilizer. Another critter repellant? Citrus peels.
7. Repurpose for your seedling starters.
No need to buy little pots to start new seedlings. You can use an empty egg carton, a toilet paper tube, or a hollowed-out orange peel as your pot. Plus, when you’re ready to plant those seedlings in the ground, those biodegradable seedling starter pots can go into the dirt, too.
I love how these hacks help you to save money and have an awesome yard this summer. If you’ve got others to share, let me know.
Leah Ingram’s favorite price is free! She is the author of 14 books, including two on frugal living. Her book Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less was recently released as an audiobook. Leah, a money-saving expert, is the founder of the popular frugal-living blog called Suddenly Frugal. Right now if you subscribe to Suddenly Frugal, Leah will send you an exclusive freebie. Follow her on Twitter @suddenlyfrugal and “Like” Suddenly Frugal on Facebook.