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Gardening is very rewarding. It’s a great form of exercise, improves mental health, and supplies nutritious foods that boost our overall physical well-being. But it is also a lot of work and can get expensive.The great news is, gardening hacks make things a lot easier, and they don’t require a huge investment. It’s all about repurposing things you find around your home or yard. Not only do these tips work, but you don’t require master-level knowledge to accomplish them. Once you’ve tried these hacks, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been using them all along.

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Plastic bottles make great underground irrigation devices

If you’re a gardener and you’ve been tossing those plastic water or soda bottles in the recycling bin or the trash, stop. Keeping plants healthy and hydrated, especially during hot summers, can be a full-time job. Make the task easier by creating a drip irrigation system using an empty beverage bottle and a sock. First, puncture holes around the sides of the bottle. Remove the cap and set it aside. Stuff a sock into the bottle. Place the bottle into the dirt, but leave at least two inches of the top sticking out of the soil. Fill the bottle with water and replace the cap. The fabric absorbs the water and slowly delivers it to your thirsty plants.

irrigation water sock plastic bottle deepblue4you / Getty Images
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Control climbing vines with zip ties

Some plants are notorious for taking over a garden or backyard. Wisteria, English ivy, honeysuckle, and trumpet vines are just a few. Keeping them in check can be a daunting task. A trellis is a great way to keep vines confined to an area, but even then, they can get out of hand. Outside of keeping them pruned, directing their growth will help prevent vigorous climbers from conquering your green spaces. Zip ties fastened around the stalks guide the plants in the direction you want them to grow. Don’t fasten too tightly, though. They need the freedom to move.

trellis fasten zip ties vines krblokhin / Getty Images
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Use cardboard sheets for grass-free gardening beds

Clearing grass from an area where you plan on starting a garden or laying a path requires shoveling and a great deal of physical exertion. Plan ahead and make things easier on yourself with this hack. Cover the area with overlapping pieces of cardboard. Then, lay compost over the cardboard until it’s between four and six inches deep. You may need to add large rocks or heavy objects to hold the cardboard down. Water thoroughly to compact the area. After about two months, you’ll discover that the cardboard killed the grass and any weeds underneath it, plus it added compostable materials to the soil. It’s best to perform this task in the fall so that the weeds and grass are gone when you’re ready to plant in the spring.

compost cardboard grass remove clearing CasarsaGuru / Getty Images
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Grow an endless supply of onion greens

You’ll need a large, empty plastic juice or soda bottle for this gardening hack. Cut the neck off of the bottle and make holes in its sides. Working your way up from the bottom, stick small onion bulbs into the holes, filling the bottle with dirt as you move towards the top. Place the bottle near a window. You’ll soon see green sprouts emerging from the holes. These greens have a mild flavor, similar to scallions, so you can use them in the same way. Although you won’t get whole onions, you’ll have a constant supply of greens you can add to salsas, soft cheeses, egg dishes, quesadillas, or as a garnish.

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Collect those eggshells

Instead of throwing out eggshells, use them to feed your house plants. They provide calcium to the soil, which balances its pH level. Try mixing crushed eggshells into cheap potting soil to increase its quality. Eggshells are also an excellent biodegradable material for composting or for creating homemade fertilizers. Make calcium-rich water by steeping dried eggshells in water for a couple of days. Strain and use for hydrating both indoor and outdoor plants.

calcium soil garden eggshells Eva-Foreman / Getty Images
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Plant seedlings in paper towel and toilet roll tubes

Start new plants from seeds with this inexpensive and environmentally friendly hack. It’s best to start seedlings about six to eight weeks before the last frost. Set aside a waterproof tray, such as a plastic food storage container. Cut the cardboard tubes into two-inch sections, then cut slits in one end and fold the ends together to form a base. Stand them upright in the container. Fill the tubes with potting soil and plant the seeds into the soil. Once they’ve sprouted and they’re ready to transfer to your outdoor garden, plant the entire cardboard tube with the seedling into the ground. The cardboard will decompose, providing valuable compostable materials to the soil.

seedlings plant soil toilet paper tubes marugod83 / Getty Images
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Sow seeds with a bow rake and a few wine corks

This gardening hack eliminates the need to create individual holes for planting seeds in the spring. Instead of crawling around on the ground, try this method for evenly spaced holes. Stick wine corks on each prong of a spading fork or bow rake. Push the tool into the dirt to create holes that are the desired depth, according to the instructions on the seed packet. Drop the seeds into the hole and cover.

sowing seeds spading fork Jim Sugar / Getty Images
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Deter garden fruit pests with ziplock bags

If you grow apples or pears, there’s a good chance that caterpillars and other pests have discovered the ripened fruit before you have. Sure, chemical sprays are an option, but if you prefer not to use them on your edibles, try this hack instead. Once the flowers have turned to fruit, place a ziplock bag over the fruit. It will continue to grow, but the baggie will go along with it. Once it’s ripe, remove the bag and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

fruit pests cover ziplock pears Dejan Kolar / Getty Images
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Regrow celery in your kitchen

Just because you don’t have a vegetable garden in your yard doesn’t mean you can’t grow vegetables. You can coax new plants from vegetables that you purchased from your local grocery store. Celery is an example of an easy option. Cut about two inches off the root end of the celery bunch. Place the celery end in a glass bowl or jar with enough water to submerge the root end about an inch. Set it in a spot where it can get good light, but not super-hot midday sun. Within a few days, you’ll see leaves appearing from the center and roots emerging around the base. Plant it in a pot with soil and watch it grow into a delicious, edible celery bunch.

submerge root grow celery Jean-Patrick Godbout / Getty Images
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Create an inexpensive vertical garden

Vertical gardens don’t require ground space to grow. Consider using a space-saving, over-the-door shoe organizer to create one. The deep pockets hold the soil and help keep it moist and healthy for growing plants. You’ll need a way to hang the organizer. Some people use a curtain-rod setup, while others attach them to the wall. Test the organizer’s material before planting by pouring water into the pocket. If it drains out easily, you can start planting seeds. If it doesn’t, poke some holes in the bottom of each pocket. Plant flowers, spinach, herbs, and miniature tomatoes to get your garden going.

organizer pockets vertical garden flowers Vladimir1965 / Getty Images

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