As the weather gets warmer, our yards become more of an extension to our home’s living space. Nothing’s better than sitting outside with the warm sun and a cool drink. But unless you’re working on your yard 24/7, you’re bound to experience irritating issues like pests, wilting plants, and unsightly dead spots in your grass. And let’s face it: Less-than-lovely landscaping can seriously detract from the outdoor ambience. The good news, however, is that you don’t need to hire a pricey gardening expert to get your lawn looking lush. Keep reading to see the kitchen staples that can make your garden gorgeous — without hurting your wallet.
Boost container plants with coffee.
“Coffee grounds raise the pH levels in soil, allowing the plants to absorb more nutrients for faster growth,” says Noah James, of Liberty Lawn & Garden. “Plus, coffee’s nitrogen stimulates root growth, and its copper and manganese help some flowering plants retain their vibrant colors.” Simply sprinkle the grounds around the base of the plant and replenish every two weeks.
Repel pests with citrus.
Rather than use toxic pesticides to deter rose-ruining aphids and earwigs, save the peels from oranges, lemons, and grapefruits ,and scatter them around your plants, says garden expert Ryan Farley. “Citrus contains limonene, which naturally repels insects. Pests can smell the chemical and will avoid it, giving your plants a wide berth.” Just replace the peels every week or so, or when you notice they’ve broken down into the soil.
Brighten flowers with banana peels.
“Banana peels contain phosphorus, which helps petals grow bright and strong,” says Amy Pennington, author of Tiny Space Gardening (Buy from Amazon, $21.49). Just chop up the peel, add water to cover, steep five days, then water flowering plants with the liquid. Banana peels don’t just brighten your plants, either — they can also reduce wrinkles. Talk about a multi-purpose peel.
Protect seedlings with eggshells.
A great way to protect young plants and sprouts from hungry slugs? Eggshells, reveals garden pro Lindsey Hyland of Urban Organic Yield. “Just crush and scatter the shells around the plant to create a barrier that slugs won’t be able to cross.” Bonus: As the shells break down, they add calcium to the soil, which plant cells need to strengthen stalks and root systems.
Perk up your lawn with a non-toxic spritz.
Fertilizers are often so strong, they cause brown spots. Instead, try watering grass with Epsom salts, says Richa Kedia of SimplifyPlants.com. “They’re rich in magnesium, which greens up your lawn more gently than fertilizer.” Mix one tablespoon of Epsom salts with a gallon of water; pour into a hose sprayer, and water once a month.
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This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.