101 Hacks for the Devoted Home Gardener (Construction Management Degree)

A message from Ashley Merusi (Construction Management Degree) :

‘I recently discovered your blog, and I have become a frequent reader. My name is Ashley with Constructionmanagementdegree.org and we recently published an article “101 Hacks for the Devoted Home Gardener” that dovetails well with your audience.

Perhaps you would be interested in sharing with them? Here’s the link to the article if you would like to take a quick look for yourself: (http://constructionmanagementdegree.org/blog/2010/101-hacks-for-the-devoted-home-gardener/).

You can also simply go to our homepage and check it out there.

Thanks again for the great content, and I hope the article I’ve linked primes your interest.


Ashley Merusi’


Growing plants at home can be a great way to spruce up your space and provide healthy and readily available foodstuffs. While gardening has its benefits, it can be challenging– even for veteran gardeners– and problems with pests, withering leaves and poor production can leave gardeners pulling out their hair. Luckily, there’s a wealth of advice online to help gardeners improve their green thumbs. Check out these tips that prove that you don’t need a college degree in horticulture to grow beautiful plants, just hard work and a little creativity.


Try out these tips for better garden planning and layouts.

  1. Try out virtual garden. You can mess around with the layout of your garden to your heart’s content without having to lift more than a finger or two with this online program.
  2. Consider square foot gardening. It’s hard to do this kind of gardening wrong and it makes planting and maintaining your plants pretty easy.
  3. Leave space. It’s hard to picture just how big a plant will get when it’s full grown, but not leaving enough space when you plant seedlings could lead to problems down the road.
  4. Think small. Unless you’ve got a lot of free time on your hands, keeping up with a huge garden will be a hassle. Start small and work your way up as you get the hang of things. You don’t want your garden to become a burden.
  5. Look at other gardens. If you have a garden in mind that you absolutely love, there’s no reason why you can’t create a similar version in your own backyard.
  6. Make it easy to navigate. You’re going to have a tough time picking flowers and plants if you don’t plan for walkways and stone paths. If you can’t afford to invest in stone, use the grass from your lawn mower to pave a pathway.
  7. Lay out plants in pots before digging. This way, you’ll be able to see what looks right before you plant as well as easily measure how far apart your plants should be.
  8. Make the most of your space. A garden doesn’t have to be acres wide to be beautiful. If you’ve only got a small space, use what you’ve got and work with the landscape. Go vertical, use native plants and create a space that works for where it is, not where you want it to be.


Before you put your plants in the ground, read through these hacks to get the most from your garden.

  1. Pay attention to growing seasons and characteristics. Some plants will come back year after year, others need to be replanted. Some like to grow on stakes or frames, while others prefer to lay on the ground. Learn everything you can about the plants you’ve chosen before planting so you can make smart decisions about when and where to plant.
  2. Plant in succession. Once some plants, like lettuce and other leafy greens, carrots and beets, are done, they are done. You’ll want to plant more than one batch of these, so make sure you’ll be ready with seedlings, and don’t plant all of your seeds at once.
  3. Mix it up. If you only have a small space to garden, you can get the most out of it by planting early maturing plants in between those that will mature later in the season. That way you’ll have room for all your plants and get to enjoy the best of every season.
  4. Rotate your vegetables To make sure you don’t expose your veggies to diseases in the soil, rotate your crops every year. Your plants will be healthier and you’ll get a better yield.
  5. Watch the light. A spot might seem sunny during one part of the day, but a few hours later could be in shade. Carefully observe the light in your outdoor space before planting to ensure you’ll plant the right plants for the conditions.
  6. Divide up digging and planting. It can be much easier when planting things in the garden to dig or poke all of your holes first, then plant. That way, you won’t muss a plant that’s already in the ground when you’re digging a hole for the one that will be next door.
  7. Plant during the coolest hours of the day. Not only will this keep you from dripping with sweat, it will make your plants happy as well. Try to do your plantings in the evening or on a cloudy day for best results.
  8. Choose high quality plants and seeds. If you skip on your plants, you’re not likely to get high quality results, whether you’re planting a vegetable garden, flowers or trees. Examine plants before you buy to make sure they’re high quality and hearty.
  9. Be kind to the roots. When you’re planting anything, from veggies to trees, damage to the roots can result in an unhappy and unhealthy plant. In some cases, you might even want to cut off the bottom of the container the plant arrived in to ensure that you get as much soil as possible and avoid hurting the root system.


Like humans, plants need water to survive and thrive. These tips will help you ensure you’re giving them what they need when it comes to water.

  1. Use water from boiled or steamed veggies. Instead of tossing out the water when you’re done, save it, let it cool and water your plants with it. The nutrients leached from the veggies during cooking will do wonders for your plants.
  2. Protect your plants from hose damage with clay pots. A steel rod and two terra cotta pots can combine to make a cloche that will keep your house from smashing your plants while you’re watering.
  3. Water infrequently but deeply. Most gardens won’t need to be watered everyday unless there is a heat wave. When you water your plants, give them a deep and thorough soaking. In most cases, this will suffice for several days.
  4. Water in the morning or early evening. This is not only better for the plants but conserves water as well. If you water during the hottest parts of the day, much of the water will simply evaporate. Watering early or late gives the soil and plants the most time to absorb the water.
  5. Use a soaker or drip hose. The more slowly you water your plants, the more water will absorb into the soil. Watering too quickly will result in the water simply running off and being wasted.
  6. Collect rainwater. This is a free and green way to get water for your garden.
  7. Use urine. It might sound gross but plants watered with urine often produce much more (up to four times as much) than those given plain water.
  8. Make an olla out of a milk jug. Ollas are traditionally made of terra cotta but a milk jug will work in a pinch. Follow this plan to make one for your garden.
  9. Create your own self-watering container. This will save you time and water and your plants will virtually take care of themselves. Try out this plan to build your own.



Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.