11 Secrets You Won’t Learn at the Garden Center

You can grow beautiful, healthy plants by using these common, inexpensive household items when you garden.

View as Slideshow

Newspaper makes excellent mulch

istock/Savushkin

Lay several sheets of newsprint over soil and then cover with mulch; they'll help retain moisture and suffocate weeds.

Water ferns with tea

istock/Simotion

Water your ferns and acid-loving plants like hydrangeas with brewed tea for luscious-looking leaves. Have you tried these other surprising uses for tea?

Banana peels are a rosebush's best friend

istock/Imagesbybarbara

Keep aphids off your rosebushes by burying dried or cut up banana peels an inch or two deep around the base of the plant. (Whole peels will attract animals, who will dig them up.)

Content continues below ad

Aluminum foil deters insects

istock/StockImages_AT

Mix strips of aluminum foil with mulch and you'll keep bugs away. The foil will also reflect light back on the plants, which encourages growth. These are other creative ways to use aluminum foil.

Salt is a natural pest killer

istock/Lepro

Kill snails and slugs by dousing them with salt—they won't survive long.

Ripen end-of-season tomatoes

istock/kosobu

Ripen end-of-season tomatoes perfectly by wrapping in a couple sheets of newspaper once they're off the vine. Store in an airtight container in a dark cabinet or closet, checking every few days.

Content continues below ad

Kill compost odor

istock/kruwt

Add wet, shredded paper to compost to remove odor.

Tea enriches your soil

istock/WJBurgwal

Sprinkle new or used tea leaves around ferns and acid-loving plants and cover with mulch—when you water, nutrients from the tea will release into the soil.

Fruit attracts butterflies

istock/inurbanspace

If you want more butterflies in your garden, place overripe bananas or other fruit on a raised platform. Be sure they're above head level and not centrally located, because they will also draw bees and wasps; and bring the food indoors before sunset to avoid unwanted hungry critters.

Content continues below ad

Hang foil to scare birds away

istock/shellhawker

If crows or birds are a problem, hang foil strips on plants to scare them away. You can also take strips of foil or foil-wrapped seashells, and string them from branches to startle bigger animals.

A salt solution kills weeds

istock/PeskyMonkey

You can also prevent the growth of weeds in walkway cracks by making a solution of 1 cup salt to 2 cups water, and pouring it directly on the plants.


Content continues below ad

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.

Funny Jokes
Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane. Dennis Miller
Funny Jokes
I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.” Kevin Nealon
Funny Jokes
“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram @kristencarney
Funny Jokes
A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water. Comedian Greg Davies
Funny Jokes
Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous. @sixthformpoet
Funny Jokes
Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral. From clientsfromhell.net
Funny Jokes
My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.” @NicCageMatch
Funny Jokes
“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 
—Alcohol @yoyoha (Josh Hara)
Funny Jokes
My parents didn't want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that's the law. —Jerry Seinfeld
Funny Jokes
Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse's mouth? A: A mechanic.