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Creative Repurposing Projects for the Yard and Garden

Spruce up your flower beds and patios using these everyday items in your home

I love working in the yard and garden. It gives me a chance to stretch my green thumb, and my Inner Miser enjoys the challenge of seeing how many would-be throwaway items he can find an alternative use for in the garden.

See more: The art and science of composting.

Before you throw something in the trash, think about whether it could have a second life somewhere in your backyard. Here are some creative repurposing ideas for the yard and garden: 

Coffee, tea or beer? Coffee grounds can be composted or worked into garden soil to boost nitrogen — and when sprinkled on top of the soil around plants, they help to deter garden pests.  Spent tea bags can be used in the same way, or tie them together and keep them soaking in a watering can to give plants a quick nitrogen snack whenever you water them. Even stale beer has a new life in the garden: Bury a bowl or pie plate up to its lip in soil and put a little stale beer in it; slugs will crawl in for a drink … and it will be their last.

Soap sliver: Here's a daily-double repurposing tip: Save those leftover slivers of soap from the shower and put them in the foot of a worn-out pair of pantyhose; keep it tied around the outdoor water spigot for a quick cleanup after gardening. My wife calls it my "Cheapskate-Soap-on-a-Rope."   Also, hang one of these soap-filled stockings on trees and shrubs to help repel hungry deer.

Panty hose: Cut worn-out pantyhose into strips and use them as ties when staking up tomatoes and other tender plants — they have just the right amount of elasticity. If you have a pond or water garden, fill a length of pantyhose with gravel and soil, tie it off, and plant water lilies and other aquatic plants in it on the bottom of the pond (cut a small opening for the plants to grow through). You can also slip pantyhose over your prized veggies and fruits while they're still growing on the plant to keep insects, birds and other pests from attacking them.

Plastic nursery pots: These make a handy spool to coil extension cords and light garden hoses around. Use screws to fasten a heavy gauge plastic nursery pot to an outside wall or inside the garage. Plastic nursery pots can also usually be recycled or sometimes returned to the nursery for a small credit; check with your nursery or recycling center.

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