10 Fun and Easy Practical Gardening Tips


Peony and bleeding heart 2Over the years I’ve collected a number of these tips from friends, magazines, online, or at conferences. Here are a few:

  1. Turn a wooden long-handled tool into a measuring stick. Using a permanent marker or, better yet, a wood burner, write inch and foot marks on the handle. When you need to space plants a certain distance you’ll already have a measuring device.
  2. To keep garden twine untangled and handy when you need it, stick a ball of twine in a small clay pot, pull the end of the twine through the drainage hole and set the pot upside down—in a wagon, the garden, or on a work station. I have one in a colorful pot upside down on its matching saucer.
  3. If you don’t wear gloves while you work in the garden, to prevent accumulating dirt under your fingernails draw your fingernails across a bar of soap before you begin. You’ll seal the undersides of your nails so dirt can’t collect beneath them. After you’ve finished in the garden, use a nailbrush to remove the soap and your nails will be sparkling clean.
  4. To keep small-sized watermelons from resting on the ground and possibly rotting from the moisture, place an inexpensive plastic colander underneath them when the fruit is about the size of your fist.
  5. To create more natural-looking plant markers for the summer, usie a permanent marker to write the names of plants on the smooth flat faces of light colored stones, then place them near the base of your plants.
  6. The next time you boil or steam vegetables, don’t pour the water down the drain. Keep a pail or watering can nearby and drain the vegetable water in it to cool. Use the greens-water for potted patio plants. You’ll be amazed at how well the container-grown plants respond.
  7. Use leftover tea and coffee grounds to acidify the soil of acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, gardenias, some hydrangeas and even blueberries. A light sprinkling of about one-quarter inch applied once a month will keep the pH of the soil on the acidic side.
  8. The quickest way to dry herbs: lay sheets of newspaper (black ink only) or paper grocery bags on the seat of your car, arrange the herbs in a single layer, then roll up the windows and close the doors. Your herbs will quickly dry AND the bonus is your car will smell great!
  9. Clean a hummingbird feeder by filling it with warm water and break a denture-cleaning tablet into it. Let it fizz for the time indicated on the package, then rinse. Denture-cleaning tablets are antibacterial and nontoxic—a near-perfect cleaning solution for keeping the hummers healthy!
  10. Need a sturdy trellis? Recycle metal flat-link bedsprings from old twin-sized bunks, cots, or day beds. Set 4×4 posts in the ground just wide enough apart for the bedspring frame to hit on center. The metal frame is predrilled so it’s easy to secure it with long, rust-proof screws. Secure it so it will be 6-8 inches above the soil line. Paint or not as desired.

Copyright 2015 Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB.
Image by Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB. All Rights Reserved.


About Author

Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB lives an eremitic life and is the author of Cultivating God’s Garden through Lent, A Garden of Visible Prayer: Creating a Personal Sacred Space One Step at a Time, 2nd Edition, and A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac. A freelance writer with a Benedictine spirituality, Margaret has a master’s degree in communications and is a Certified Greenhouse Grower, Advanced Master Gardener, liturgical garden consultant, and workshop/retreat leader.


  1. These tips are genius!! I wanted to tell you that we began work today on our new “drought tolerant” garden out back. We bought a few samples of grasses and succulents and a coastal rosemary plant that are all supposed to work well in our arid climate. We have a ton of work to do to replace the grass lawn that we’re taking out. I’m excited to get started! And thanks again for the handy suggestions. You make me WANT to go out back and work!

  2. I am TOTALLY going to be drying my herbs this way. I have mint that is ready to go, and some recipes requiring dried mint awaiting me. Why should I pay for expensive dried spice when I have plenty of it free in my yard?

    Hey Lisa, you are going to LOVE cooking with fresh rosemary. Smells SO GOOD.

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