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5 Ways to Enjoy a Beautiful Garden for Less

No need to break your back or the bank to make your garden grow. Here, free ways to ensure all your flowers, veggies, and fruit flourish.

Protect your harvest with a wood trap.

Frustrated by slugs and snails eating all your lettuce and cabbage? Traps for these hungry critters cost about $4 each, and if you need several, that adds up fast.

A better solution: “Just set a small piece of wood near plantings overnight, and lift it when it’s sunny,” advises Stephanie Rose, author of Garden Alchemy ($15.39, Amazon). “You’ll find all those garden-gobblers hiding from the sun’s heat underneath — then simply use a garden trowel to take them away.”

Nurture new plantings with a “collar.”

Yuck alert: Cutworms are moth larvae that live in the soil and emerge at night to munch on the base of young plants. No need to spray pesticides, assures garden expert Jill McSheehy. “Just take a cardboard toilet paper roll and snip a two-inch section to make a ‘collar.’”

Then split each collar vertically so you can easily wrap it around the base of your plant: Voilà — a barrier that will ward off the intruders.

Green up your garden with coffee grounds.

How to keep plants in the “green” of health without resorting to pricey fertilizer? “Add about one cup of coffee grounds to your compost,” advises garden expert Todd Heft. “Coffee grounds are magical because they’re rich in nitrogen — a key element to many plant functions, including chlorophyll production, which is essential to new growth.”

Reap plumper tomatoes with egg shells.

Tomatoes and peppers need calcium to stay healthy and keep their skin from cracking. “You can infuse your soil with this mineral by sprinkling one crushed eggshell around the base of plants,” says Heft. “Calcium from the shell will seep into the soil, strengthening plants from the bottom up.”

Fatten up rose bushes by snipping outward.

Sure, you know deadheading — removing faded blossoms encourages roses to put their energy into creating flowers instead of seeds. And the good news is, it’s surprisingly easy to boost the benefit: Make your cut at a 45-degree angle toward the center of the bush about 1⁄4-inch above the first leaf that has five leaflets facing outward. This creates a fuller, bigger rose bush.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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