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Here are a few tips you may not have come across before.  If you know of any others you would like to share with the rest of us please contact us on june@hintsandthings.co.uk .   We will be delighted to add them to our pages, giving you credit of course.

  • If you would like to place a small plant or shrub close to some trees or something like a conifer hedge, but you can't because the trees/hedge take all the goodness from the soil, here is what to do. Give your plant/shrub its own environment by putting it in a large plant pot; and then bury the pot! All you will see is the plant/shrub.


May need additional watering as the pot will prevent the plant drawing moisture from the ground and, due to the proximity of hedges/trees etc., rain may not get to the roots of the plant in question.

  • The cheapest way to make an arc in your garden is to buy some plastic water piping then drive four star pickets into the ground the with of the wire then slip the piping over the star pickets then attach the wire and you have got an arc you can grow grapes passion fruit climbing beans etc on it good luck.

Anonymous contributor

  • Plastic plant labels that have been written on using permanent ink can be brought back to new if they are soaked in a 75% bleach solution for a couple of weeks.  Make sure they are thoroughly washed before using again.   Alternatively, use a pencil to mark labels, these can then be used again by simply using a rubber (eraser) to remove the name.

  • Labels made from coloured plastic bottles can be used for labelling different types of plants e.g. blue = hardy, yellow = trailers etc.

    Thanks to Michael Allsop for these tips.

  • Even plant labels lettered with permanent markers can be quickly and easily cleaned using a wirewool pan cleaner and a drop of water - you have to try it to believe it!

    Gordon Holroyd

  • If you run out of plant labels or money to buy more, use your old ice cream carton or margarine tubs they work just as well.

Anonymous contributor.

  • To stop fencing boards splitting when driving nails, cut the head of a nail of the same size to that being used, put the nail in an electric drill and drill the boards where the nails are to be positioned, hammer in your nails, no more split timber.

Thanks to Harvey Alexander

  • I think you could also use a drill bit of a size slightly smaller than the nail and I have also been told that if you blunt the point of the nail being used by scraping on sandpaper or cement this prevents wood splitting.

  • Slice your apples crosswise to evaluate pollination.  There are five seed pockets with a potential of two seeds in each.   If there are 8-10 fully developed seeds you are in good shape.  If less, then the apple is not all it could be and you need to work on better pollination.  Either you need more bees or a pollenizer variety. For more interesting facts on pollination visit their site at http://pollinator.com

I have to thank Mr. Dave Green for this most original tip on the pollination of apples.

  • When growing sweet peas from seed, two-thirds fill pot with compost and water well, top up with dry compost and plant seed at about 1/2 inch beneath surface of compost.  This way the seed with draw up as much water as required and will not rot away.

  • To prevent slugs getting to plants in containers, smear outside of container with petroleum jelly or WD40.

  • Grow varieties of plants that require little or no staking and plant closely so they support each other.

  • Spray weeds which are well established in a rock garden and paving with a glyphosate herbicide.  This kills the entire plant without having to dig them out.

  • Mix perlite in with the potting compost in patio planters and hanging baskets.  It absorbs moisture when water is plentiful and releases it when the compost is dry.

  • When planting container grown plants, disturb the roots as little as possible so that they continue to benefit from the compost they are grown in.  Water as usual after planting.

  • When planting bare rooted trees and shrubs, spread the roots out like an umbrella, twisted roots stunt growth.  As you cover the roots with soil shake the plant from time to time to allow the soil to drop down well between them.  Water well after planting.

  • Put support stakes in before you plant a new tree to avoid the possibility of damaging the roots.

  • A circle of twigs about 500mm high (20ins), provides a better support for border plants than a single stake, and is less obtrusive.

  • Save wooden ice cream spatulas, lolly sticks or plastic knives to use as garden labels.  Write on them with a ball point pen or waterproof marker.

  • An old hot water bottle filled sparingly with foam rubber chips is a handy kneeling pad for long gardening jobs.

  • If tender buds or shoots become frozen, thaw them out slowly by spraying with cold water before the sun shines, otherwise they may get scorched.

  • To avoid tender plants getting damaged by frost, listen to the weather forecast and protect delicate plants with newspaper or old clothes.

  • To prevent snow damaging small conifers, when it is forecast tie the branches to the trunk with string, however, do not leave them tied for more than a day or two.

  • As long as you don't mind how they look, old car tyres make a good temporary cold frames for new seedlings.  Sow the seeds inside the tyre and place a piece of glass or clear plastic on top.  The rubber absorbs the heat during the day and releases it over night.

  • If you find handles of tools, mowers and shears uncomfortable to hold try buying a foam bicycle handlebar grip.  Slip the grips over the tool handles, using washing up liquid or Vaseline if it proves difficult.  If the handle in question is continuous try slitting the grip horizontally to allow it to be slipped over the handle.  Pipe insulating foam may also work.

  • Always buy strong, good quality tools and look after them well.   If you can afford it buy stainless steel as they will last a lifetime and are easier to clean.  When choosing tools pick them up and try out for balance and weight.

  • Before filling a strawberry barrel with compost stand a piece of drainpipe or cardboard tube upright in the centre and fill with pebbles.  As you fill with compost gradually remove the tube releasing the pebbles.  This will act as a central drainage system preventing the soil from becoming waterlogged.

  • Hanging baskets need watering twice a day to avoid your flowers drying out;  to make this easier consider attaching them to a pulley system available from garden centres.

  • Water hanging baskets by putting ice cubes on the top, moisture is slowly released as the ice cubes melt.  Ensure these do not touch the plants as this may cause damage.

  • If your hose springs a leak it can be temporarily repaired by inserting a cocktail stick into the hole.  Snap the stick off as close to the hose as possible and wrap around with insulating tape or waterproof tape (if available).   This should extend by about 2" each side of the hole.  As the wood absorbs the water it will expand and seal the hole.

  • An old wheel rim makes an ideal storage place for a garden hose when not in use.  This can be hung on a garage or shed wall.

  • To clean white plastic garden furniture break up two dishwasher tablets into a bucket of warm water, mix well, scrub the furniture well and leave for about 15 minutes after which rinse well with clean water and then buff up with a clean, soft, dry cloth.
  • If you are new to gardening or have been putting it off as don't have the faintest idea where to start, then may I suggest you take a look at this step by step guide which explains and demystifies everything to enable you to get going.


Home Made Garden Fertiliser and Mulch and other useful gardening tips.

More hints and tips for gardeners.




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