You know me—I’ll never throw anything away if there’s a way to reinvent it, especially if it can come in handy around the yard and garden. Whether it’s coffee cans, panty hose, paper clips, or old hoses, I just can’t seem to get rid of those things.
For instance, before you throw out that empty bottle of liquid laundry detergent, bleach, or fabric softener, STOP! Otherwise, you’d be tossing one of the handiest outdoor helpers you could ask for: a big, sturdy plastic bottle. Here’s how you can put ‘em to work in your yard and garden:
- Deep irrigation system. Poke small holes in the bottoms and sides of the bottles, bury them in the soil around your garden, and fill them with water. The moisture will flow out at a slow rate, directly to the plants’ roots, where it’s needed most.
- Garden-tool caddy. Make a big hole in a giant bottle on the side opposite the handle. Then insert your trowel, pruning shears, and other small hand tools through the hole to carry them wherever they’re needed.
- Plant labels. Cut the sides of white or yellow bottles into strips, write on them with an indelible marker, and shove the strips into the soil next to the appropriate plants.
- Scoop. Cut diagonally across the bottom, screw the top back on, and use it to scoop up sand, fertilizer, compost, cat litter, or just about any other nonedible substance.
- Watering can. Drill a dozen holes in the cap of a giant bottle. Fill the bottle with water, and screw the top back on. To water your plants, flip the bottle upside down, and let the H2O flow!
And, as unlikely as it might seem, a few potent laundry and cleaning products can actually help ease some of the most common—and uncomfortable—outdoor mishaps. Here’s a quick-cure rundown:
- Bee stings. After scraping out the stinger, dab a few drops of bluing onto the spot, and—bingo!—instant relief!
- Fire-ant bites. Douse the flames by dabbing the area with a half-and-half solution of bleach and water. If it’s applied within 15 minutes of the bite, it’ll ease the pain and swelling. (But if the pain is severe, or spreads beyond the bitten spot, hightail it to the closest doctor.)
- Mosquito bites. Nix the itch and swelling by dabbing the spot with a few drops of ammonia. Act fast, though, before you start scratching. If you apply ammonia to broken skin, the sting will feel a whole lot worse than the skeeter’s bite!
- Poison ivy. Relieve the pain and itch by patting the nasty red blotches with a solution consisting of a teaspoon or so of bleach per quart of water.
- Rash. Grab a can of spray starch, and spritz that itch goodbye!
Some folks may think I’m a little crazy when I tell them my best outdoor tips use supermarket “stuff” like detergent bottles, bleach, aspirin, hot pepper sauce, or even beer. But they stop shakin’ their heads and really start believing when they see the remarkable results!