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11 Landscaping Hacks That Will Save You Time

Looking for ways to save time and get rid of nagging landscape problems this summer? This collection of landscaping and gardening hacks will give you effective new techniques to get the beautiful backyard you've always wanted.

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jugArina P Habich/Shutterstock

Cut and Label Plastic Gallon Jugs for Early Shoots

If you cut a gallon jug (like a classic plastic milk jug) about two-thirds down the bottom, you can create an effective enclosure to protect planted seeds and new shoots from birds and rodents, which is faster and more effective than trying to use sprays and traps. For busy gardens, get a marker and write the name of the plant on the jug so you know what’s growing beneath without needing to check your seed packets: Remember to eventually take the jugs off as shoots develop to avoid mold. Check out more tips for larger backyard projects!

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tarp for lawn clippingsFamily Handyman

Invest in a Heavy-Duty Tarp

Nothing is quite so useful in landscaping projects as a durable tarp. It’s excellent for moving leaves, weeds, soil, and small rocks (among other materials) quickly and safely when working in the yard. You can also use it to cover plants or landscaping materials on a truck bed when transporting them, or to protect projects from a fierce storm. Just don’t leave a tarp laying out on the lawn for too long, or it will kill your grass. Check out these pro lawn and garden tips.

Plus: Check out 11 of our favorite front yard landscaping ideas.

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Cardboard is the Perfect Lawn-to-Garden Material

Do you have to convert part of your lawn into a garden or flower bed? Instead of digging out all the grass by hand, try this method instead: Dig a channel around the grass, and cover it with a layer of cardboard. Put several inches of mulch on top of the cardboard, and then water it thoroughly. The grass (unable to get sunlight) will naturally die out and merge with the cardboard, preparing the area for anything you have in mind. Find out more tips on getting rid of all your weeds.

Next, see our favorite cheap curb appeal landscaping ideas here.

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potsGraeme Dawes/Shutterstock

Clean Your Old Clay Pots with a Vinegar Soak

Do you use clay pots in your landscaping? Over time these beautiful pots can get stained with mineral deposits. Trying to clean these pots with a hose and soap will take far too long, and only be partially effective. However, you can remove those deposits with a quick soak: Mix up a bucket with around one-quarter vinegar and three-quarters water, and let your pots soak for about an hour. Remove them and give them a scrub to clean them up. Looking for colorful plants for your landscape landscape with? Try these!

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drainEgorov Igor/Shutterstock

Automate a Rain Barrel to Save Time Watering

Do you like saving water? Do you have a spot in your yard that doesn’t get enough irrigation? You don’t have to water it by hand or dig up your garden to install more sprinklers. Instead, attach a rain barrel to your gutters and connect it with a gravity fed drip line that you can wind around your plants. They’ll get the water they need with no waste, and plants near your gutters won’t get swamped. Trying to clear space for a garden path? We’ve got a guide for you.

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Have a Tricky Slope? Switch to Ground Covers

Many of us struggle with backyards that have steep slopes where plants struggle to grow. If you are worried about dust and erosion from these slopes, try planting plant durable groundcovers there. These plants thrive in tough conditions just like this, prevent erosion, and need very little water You can plant them and largely forget about them as the groundcover does its work, instead of the maintenance that more delicate grasses require. Find excellent desert landscaping ideas here.

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egg shellsA3pfamily/Shutterstock

Make Starting Plants Speedy with Eggshells

Save up a few eggshell halves when you’re planning on starting plants from seeds. Fill the eggshells with potting soil, then add a seed and water. This is an easy way to start your plants and watch the shoots to see which are healthy enough for transplanting. When the time comes to move them outside, simply plant the eggshell right in the ground! Eggshells contain valuable soil nutrients like calcium. Learn about entryway landscaping and improve your curb appeal.

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plantFamily Handyman

Plant Your Pots for Effortless Plant Control

Worried about plants and flowers overgrowing your garden? Keep your new plants in their pots and bury them in your garden for better control. Mix up a little potting soil and fertilizer inside the pot to help the plant transition, and take care of it as you normally would. You will save plenty of time on planting and maintenance–all you have to do is dig a hole! Of course, this doesn’t work well on perennial plants that you expect to outgrow their pots, but it’s effective for controlling smaller annual flowers and herbs. You can find tips for garden bed edging here.

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baking sodaEKramar/Shutterstock

Add a Little Baking Soda for a Quick Soil Fix

If you think your soil may be too acidic (low pH) for a sensitive plant like a geranium, mix in a sprinkle of baking soda with the soil before planting, then water the area thoroughly so it mixes in well. It takes only seconds, and baking soda is a natural alkaline substance that will raise the pH level at a fraction of the cost of soil amendments such as lime. Plus, it’s right there in your kitchen. Here’s how to grow the perfect lawn.

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trunkKristen Prahl/Shutterstock

Don’t Waste Time Removing that Tree Stump

If you’ve ever had to remove a tree stump from your yard, you know it’s an exhausting process that involves a lot of work, a lot more roots than you’d expect, and a giant hole you have to fill in afterward. If you’re confronted with a new tree stump, why not make it part of your landscape instead? Stumps make excellent, all-natural stands for flower pots and can quickly become a conversation point without all the work. We can also help you start a new garden.

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5 gallon bucket No more rusty garden toolsFamily Handyman

Use Mineral Oil and a Pot of Sand for Your Tools

This hack ensures your tools are always ready and clean. Find a pot or small bucket and fill it with clean sand. Take several of your most-used landscaping tools and stick them into the sand – they will stay upright and easy to grab this way. When finished for the day, spray your tools with a quick coat of mineral oil and put them back in the sand. Over time, the combination of mineral oil and sand will help clean your tools and keep them from going dull as fast. Check out these fun backyard projects!