Repurposing common household items for your garden

Gardening expenses can add up, but aside from necessities like fertilizer and plants, some of the tools can be repurposed items from around the house. With a bunch of gardening hacks in this list, you won't need to be buying new tools in a hurry.

Repurposing common household items for your garden

Who says you can only use proper tools in the garden? These common household and workshop objects, including a couple of items normally considered candidates for the trash bin, can be put to work as gardening aids in surprising ways.

Kitchen tongs

Take a pair of kitchen tongs outside with you when it's time to trim back any prickly vines, limbs or rosebushes.

  • The tongs will allow you to hold or bend the branch painlessly while you snip with the other hand.


Keep a sheet of fine sandpaper or emery cloth handy in your toolshed. When rust appears on your pruning saw blade or some other metal tool, rub it away with a light sanding.

  • Follow up with a light coating of oil — for instance, from a rag carrying a touch of motor oil or olive oil.

Old hose

A length of old garden hose will help you keep tool edges sharp and prevent accidental cuts.

  1. Use heavy shears or a utility knife to cut the old hose to the length of the tool edge (on a saw or shovel, for instance).
  2. Then slit the hose lengthwise down one side to make an opening for your tool edge.
  3. Slide the edge of the tool into the hose, and secure it with twine or a bungee cord.

Ice pick

  • Speaking of old hose, if a garden hose that's still in use has sprung pinpoint leaks, go to your toolbox and pull out the ice pick.
  • Heat the point of the ice pick over a candle flame until the tip glows, then touch it carefully to the leaky spot on your hose, letting the surface melt and seal.

Carpenter’s belt

  • Adapt your carpenter's belt to the great outdoors. When you're able to carry all of your little gardening implements around your waist — twine, hand tools, measuring tape and such — you'll save yourself a score of trips to the shed during one day's work.

Soap bar

  • Before you dig your hands into that soil, scrape your fingernails across a bar of hand soap.
  • The soap that collects under your nails will create a dirt barrier, preventing that embedded, impossible-to-clean rim of dirt underneath. When you wash your hands, the soap barrier will dissolve.

Coffee grounds

  • Once your coffee grounds have "done their job" inside the house, put them to work outside too.
  • Sprinkle them in your garden, where they will decompose and add nutrients to the soil.

Paper cups

If your seedlings are vanishing from the flower bed overnight, you need a shield to protect them from pests such as cutworms and slugs.

  • Cut the bottom off a paper cup and place the cup over your seedling to keep the hungry critters at bay.


To make a more comfortable grip on your trowel or another garden tool, wrap the handle tightly in cotton clothesline, then cover the clothesline with several wraps of duct tape.

  • Long-term, the bulkier, softer grip will be easier on your hands.
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