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    I Tried 7 Pinterest Garden Hacks For Beginners

    Gardening – how hard could it be?

    Sian Butcher/BuzzFeed

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    Like everyone else on Instagram, I’m obsessed with gardening.

    Ailbhe Malone/BuzzFeed

    Growing things! So relaxing! And for the first time in a long time, I have a garden I can actually do something with. After years of living in high-rise flats, I live in a house with a long, sunny garden. The only downside is that it’s covered in decking. Decking! As far as the eye can see. And I’m also plagued by squirrels with a vendetta against my bulbs.

    The other downside is that gardening is expensive. There’s a reason why parents have lovely gardens – it’s because they can afford endless planters (THESE ARE LIKE £30!!) and bags of fertilizer. Meanwhile, I lurk in Aldi’s garden sales, and lug bags of soil home on the bus (above, photo proof). My Aldi strawberries reside in a Poundland planter on top of a bench made from an old laundry hamper. It’s like Blue Peter meets The Wombles round my place.

    I’ve been thrifty with my purchases – shout-out to Poundland’s Charlie Dimmock range – and once a month I borrow a car to do a big garden centre haul (my life is thrilling, I know). But the gardens on Pinterest continue to lure me in. The things I could do if I could just get my paws on a pallet. The stacked planters I could create!

    I decided to give some of these garden hacks a shot. What did these pinners have that I don’t?

    I picked a couple of Pinterest garden hacks that would spruce up my long, decking-clad garden – and that I could conceivably manage without resorting to power tools. A heads up, I used a 50-litre bag of compost (£3.86) and that got me through all these hacks with some left over.

    My current garden sitch, for reference.

    Ailbhe Malone

    My current plant stands are an old Ikea shelf I found on the street and a shower caddy that I also found on the street. My planters are, a bit of pipe that – you guessed it! – I found on the street, and some leftover crates. The plants are all from Aldi, Poundland, or clearance at B&Q. This isn't Petersham Nurseries.

    Something else you need to know: The local cats are obsessed with digging up any freshly planted seedlings, and the local squirrels are obsessed with digging up my bulbs. So you're going to see a lot of netting around young plants in these photos. I'm sorry, but I'm not sacrificing a spring of hard-growing for a nicer photo.

    Sian Butcher/ BuzzFeed

    Create a hanging planter using a shoe organiser.

    The results:

    Laura Gallant/BuzzFeed

    As I mentioned, my back garden is very long and flat – so I’m on the hunt for ways to add depth without drilling. I’ve written about this very hack for BuzzFeed before, years ago, so it feels only right that I try it out for real. First things first, you’ll need loads of soil – these pockets are deep. Then buy some plants that are suited to a hanging basket – I went for 12 fuchsia plants for £10 from B&Q. I chose the least jazzy shoe organiser I could find on Amazon, and didn’t bother measuring my fence. I would suggest measuring your fence – although I struck lucky.

    This assembly was very straightforward, and I made a couple of tweaks to the original directions. I put water storage hanging basket liners in the middle of each pocket – I figured that as the pockets are clear, they’d be more likely to absorb heat and dry out. I grabbed these ones from Poundland, but I’ve seen other Pinterest tips recommend using nappies. I also cut four drainage holes in the pockets with a scissors, to stop the plants getting waterlogged. The end result looks great, and two weeks on, the plants are still thriving.

    Cost: £9.99 for the organiser, £10 for the plants, £1 for the liners = £20.99

    Level of difficulty: 2/5 – it’s very straightforward, but you’ll need to be patient.

    Worth it? Definitely! I’m slightly concerned that the organiser will get mildewy by the end of the summer, but we’ll deal with that problem when it comes.

    Sian Butcher/BuzzFeed

    Layer terracotta pots to create a stacked planter.

    The results:

    Ailbhe Malone, Laura Gallant/BuzzFeed

    What a nightmare this was. Back away from this DIY, dear reader. To start with, it is very difficult to buy large terracotta pots in decreasing diameters. I trudged around B&Q, Wilko, and Asda Home, trying to find the right sizes. And then I had to find a dowel rod. WHAT IS A DOWEL ROD, because nobody seemed to know at any of these three stores. Its purpose in this DIY is to add support to the planters, so I ended up buying some bamboo – if it can support construction workers in Hong Kong, it can support these three plant pots.

    I followed the instructions closely, using almost half a bag of soil to fill the pots to the top, before stacking the next one on top and threading a bamboo cane through them. I then nudged my perennials in (a mix of two cartons from Wilko), and took a step back. It looked *fine* but was SUCH A WASTE OF MONEY. Using soil to achieve height is the gardening equivalent of using cake to stoke a fire. Plus, there was only enough space for three plants in each of the lower tiers, when they could easily take six without the stacked structure.

    The following day, the plants looked so miserable that I took the whole thing down. I emptied the soil, added in some crocks and drainage (the original DIY didn’t mention this, so I left it out, thinking it may have affected the stability), and put a lily in the big pot instead. Far better.

    Cost: £4.50 for the plants; £1.50, £3.50, and £4 for the pots; £4 for the bamboo = £17.50

    Level of difficulty: 2/5

    Worth it? OK, so here’s the thing. Maybe it was the DIY I used. I did some more research and other bloggers recommend using plastic pots to build internal height, instead of using soil – which makes so much more sense. Or just buy some stacked planters.

    Sian Butcher/BuzzFeed

    Create vertical space by stacking plants on a ladder.

    The results:

    Laura Gallant/BuzzFeed

    I don’t know where this cute ladder was found, but it definitely wasn’t via any hardware site in the UK. I searched countless stores looking for a similar one, but all I could find was the kind of footstools you keep in the back room to reach the fuse box. So instead I gave up and went to Amazon. There I found a plastic tiered plant stand for £18. Perfect. The stand was really lightweight and easy to assemble, and made a startling difference. I had ummed and ahhed about buying a similar one a while ago, but thought it wasn’t worth it. But I’m already thinking of buying another one.

    However, it’s not the sturdiest – I was wary of putting any bigger planters on it, and I’ve already lost one small ceramic pot to a wobble. In search of a more robust option, I looked at Pinterest again. Other pinners recommended using this IKEA stool. I had one at home anyway so tried it out, but it was a duff item to use. As it’s wood, you’d have to weatherproof it or bring it inside every night. And the gradient of the steps isn’t enough to have all the plants in enough sun.

    Cost: £18 for the planter, and I had the pots already.

    Level of difficulty: 2/5 – the planter came with no instructions.

    Worth it? Kind of, but “buy a plant stand” isn’t a solution.

    Sian Butcher/BuzzFeed

    Make a succulent garden using a shower caddy.

    The results:

    Laura Gallant/BuzzFeed

    I’ve always wanted a rock garden, but it seems like a dream that awaits me when I retire, wealthy, in my sixties, and sit around my large home drinking gin and tonics in the afternoon. So this succulent garden seemed like a good compromise. It was very straightforward! I bought a multipack of succulents from Amazon (I tried the garden centre, but they didn’t have any), and they were delivered promptly and in good nick. The DIY suggested lining the caddy with felt to stop the soil falling out, but my beloved Poundland had hanging-basket liners for £1, so I just cut up a couple instead.

    The only thing to mention is that the bottom two layers of the caddy stay quite dry, so make especially sure you water them if it’s warm out.

    Cost: £12.50 for the succulents, £1 for the liners, £5 for the caddy (Wilko) = £18.50

    Level of difficulty: 3/5

    Worth it? Yes! I’m going to make another one.

    Sian Butcher/BuzzFeed

    Get rid of stubborn weeds with white wine vinegar.

    The results:

    Ailbhe Malone/BuzzFeed, Ailbhe Malone

    I was not a true believer in getting rid of weeds this way, and I remain unconvinced. My mum always taught me to get rid of weeds in the paving stones by pouring boiling water on to them, and it works. But we have some brambles out the front of the house that I’ve been trying to kill using weed killer. And if there was a more bio-friendly way, I was interested to try it. Sadly, this does piss all, and I ended up just digging up the weeds by hand.

    Cost: Free, I had a bottle of vinegar in the cupboard already.

    Level of difficulty: 1/5 – you just have to avoid splashing your shoes.

    Worth it? Not in the slightest.

    Sian Butcher/BuzzFeed

    Blend leftovers to make your own compost.

    The results:

    Ailbhe Malone, Laura Gallant/BuzzFeed

    We don’t have a compost bin at home, so I asked around the office for leftover banana peels and apple cores (a dignified moment) and chucked them into my Nutribullet with that morning’s coffee grounds. I added some water to get things going, and a couple of pulses later, I had quite a nice-smelling sludge. I used it to feed some repotted roses, and a couple of weeks later they’re nice and bushy.

    Cost: Free

    Level of difficulty: 1/5

    Worth it? Yes! Very easy and an incentive to keep my vegetarian food waste.

    Sian Butcher/BuzzFeed

    Ward off squirrels with plastic forks.

    The results:

    Ailbhe Malone

    I’m sorry guys, I just didn’t do this. I brought the forks home, planted up some bulbs, then saw that squirrels had destroyed the Iris bulbs that were about to bloom, the ones I had just removed my squirrel-proof netting from. Nothing, apart from netting, will stop these fuckers. So I've sealed my gladioli against all attack.

    Worth it? If you want to take the risk, fine, but I’ve never seen a squirrel quake before picnic cutlery.

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