Lawn & Garden Gardening

7 Times to Throw Garbage in Your Garden

There’s something extra satisfying about making do with what you have and using only as much as you need—about striving to be self-sustaining. This impulse is particularly strong with gardeners. Their connection with nature encourages them to support their gardening habit by reusing and recycling a lot of what most people consider garbage. So, the next time you take out the trash, help your plants and the planet by bringing these items into your garden instead of out to the curb.

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Coffee Grounds

You can reuse old coffee grounds to nurture acid-loving plants like blueberries, azaleas, heather, and holly. Sprinkle the grounds around the plants and lightly mix them into the soil. Or, put them straight into your compost pile to add a powerful punch to your percolating “black gold.”

Related: 11 Uses for Coffee Grounds


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You can shred old newspapers and use them as mulch. Or, better yet, spread them out in layers under other mulching materials, such as wood chips or shredded leaves, to help inhibit weed growth.

Related: 12 “Zero Dollar” Garden Hacks

Old Tires

Tire retailers and many municipalities charge a recycling fee to dispose of discarded tires. Save the cash and put your old tires to use by painting them and turning them into planters. Sitting single, stacked, or in an artful configuration, they will make a practical and playful addition to your landscape.

Related: 11 Things Never to Buy Secondhand


A late frost in early spring can endanger tender young seedlings. Cover them with old shoeboxes to protect them from harsh winds and cold temperatures during freezing nights.  

Related: 14 Totally Free Ways to Start Your Own Garden

Egg Cartons

Cardboard or Styrofoam egg cartons make excellent seed starting containers. Just fill each egg cup with potting mix, then sow your seeds. If you’ve used a cardboard container, once the plants are big enough to transfer outdoors, you can simply cut the cups apart and embed each one into the dirt. The cardboard will biodegrade and add nutrients to the soil.

Related: 10 Things to Do Now for a Better Garden Next Year

Paint Stirrer Plant Labels

Reuse paint stirrers (ice pop sticks, cardboard, and plastic utensils work too!) to make plant markers for your veggie garden. Label them efficiently with a felt-tip marker, or pretty them up with paint. Either way, you’ll never again have to wonder what you’re watering.

Related: 9 Insanely Easy 1-Hour Backyard Projects

Soda Bottles

Fancy store-bought watering globes help keep your plants hydrated when you’re away. But you can make something just as effective with an old soda or wine bottle. Just poke several small holes in the cap, fill the bottle up with water, and stick it upside down in the ground to hydrate plants right at the roots.

Related: 20 Summer Life Hacks Everyone Needs

Garbage Gardening

The garden gives you a great opportunity to recycle.