New Uses for Things in the Great Outdoors
Soda Bottle as Funnel
Funnel seed into a bird feeder through the top half of a bisected bottle.
Dental Floss as Vine Winder
Because it's resilient, dental floss is ideal for training vines on a trellis. Be careful not to tie the floss too tightly or it will dig into the growing stem.
Marbles as Potted Plant Upgrade
Add a few pops of color to the topsoil of a potted plant.
Pool Noodle as Blade Guard
To create a protective case for a saw, use the saw to shorten a pool noodle to the length of the blade, then slice a slit to the hollow core.
Soap as Dirt Blocker
Keep nails clean when gardening by scraping your fingers along a bar of soap before digging in. The soap stays under the nail and keeps everything else out. Wash with a nailbrush to remove.
Aluminum Foil as a Grilling Helper
Really hot grill bars equal dramatic grill marks on your porterhouse. To concentrate the heat and keep it from escaping, lay a sheet of foil over the grill for 10 minutes. Peel the foil off just before cooking, scrunch it into a ball (it cools fast), and use it later to scrape any residue or ash from the bars.
Tennis Ball as Light Bulb Remover
Remove a hot bulb that’s just burned out, using the other half of the ball.
CD as Ice Scraper
Too cold to hunt down the real deal? Use a jewel case to clear the frost from your windshield.
Contact Lens Case as Travel Spice Holder
Pack small amounts of salt, pepper, and spices for a camping trip.
Tic Tac Box as Spice Holder
Pack small amounts of your favorite spice (red pepper flakes, anyone?) in old Tic Tac boxes, to season food on-the-go.
Muffin Tin as Large Ice Cube Tray
The cold, hard truth: Small ice cubes melt fast, leaving a pitcher of lemonade watery. To make long-lasting jumbo cubes, use a muffin tin. Pop them out by running the back of the tin under hot water for 30 seconds.
Scratched CD as Safety Reflector
Want drivers to see—not sideswipe—yourmailbox at night? Glue headlight-catching CDs onto its side.
Tennis Ball as Neck Massager
Give yourself a tension-relieving rubdown. Place two balls in a sock and lie on the floor so that the balls are under the base of your neck. Gently nod your head up and down.
Branch as Gift Wrap
Spruce up a wrapped gift. Tuck pretty sprigs into the ribbon in place of a bow.
Ice Scraper as Decorating Tool
Hide your picture-hanging mistakes. Smooth wall filler into nail holes and small cracks with the scraper.
Tennis Ball as Homemade Weights
Lift weights in the comfort (and privacy) of your living room. Make a small slice in the ball and fill with pennies.
Holiday Lights as Night Light
Fill a large Mason jar with a strand or two of battery-powered lights to add whimsy to a walkway or a nightstand.
Olive Oil as Sap Remover
If dragging and decking out fresh spruce leaves you with sticky digits, pour a tablespoon of oil onto a cloth, then rub until clean. Bonus: The oil is a great moisturizer for dry winter skin.
Shower Curtain as Picnic Blanket Liner
Do dew diligence and layer a liner underneath a picnic blanket to avoid soggy bottoms and grass or mud stains.
Banana Peel as Rose Fertilizer
Just flatten a banana peel and bury it under one inch of soil at the base of a rosebush. The peel’s potassium feeds the plant and helps it resist disease. Consider it a nutritional boost for you and your buds.
Hose as Bucket Grip
For a handle you can comfortably handle: Snip off a section of an old garden hose, make a slit down its length, and put it over a skinny bucket wire.
Bucket as Side Table
For more serving space (without begging and borrowing from the neighbors) top a bucket with a tray for an instant side table for your lawn chairs. Your guests will have more spots to rest their cocktails.
Car Wax as Garden Shear Lubricant
For cleaner cuts with less elbow grease, rub a little paste on the hinge of a pair of garden shears so they don’t get jammed.
Ice Cream Scoop as Sand-Castle Tool
An ice cream scoop deposits perfect domes for a Taj Mahal (or a yurt).
Colander as Ice Bucket
Make ice cubes last longer at your next cocktail party: Put them in a colander set into a bowl. As they melt, the water will drain through the holes instead of sitting and turning the ice to slush.
Swap Conversation Hearts for Chalk
If you can’t find the real deal for your message center or that game of tic-tac-toe, these candies will do the sweet talking for you. (Hang on to them until summer, when the driveway is just begging for a masterpiece by your TOO CUTE toddler.)
Use Cooking Spray as an Ice Repellent
Before clearing snow off a driveway, liberally spray both sides of a plastic or metal shovel with cooking spray. The ice will slide right off the oily surface. It's the easiest trick for smoother snow removal.
Croquet Wickets as Hose Stakes
Make an arched pathway from the waterspout to the flower bed, then feed the hose through the wickets. Now the hose can’t migrate and crush your impatiens.
Grapefruit Knife as Weeder
To remove weeds, use the curved blade in container gardens or tight spaces where traditional tools are too big for the job.
Changing Table as Potting Bench
Once the little ones are potty-trained, give your changing table new life as a potting bench. A coat of semi-gloss or high-gloss paint will protect it from the elements. Stack pots on shelves and stash seeds in drawers. Fill an easy access hanging nylon or canvas diaper bag with shears and gloves.
Cork as Fire Starter
Get a blaze crackling faster. Keep wine corks in rubbing alcohol in a sealed jar (stored away frm the fireplace of course). Just before lighting a fire, toss a few in under the kindling.
Epsom Salt as Plant Fertilizer
Encourage green growth on your house plants by applying a solution of 2 tablespoons salt to 1 gallon water once a month.
Flower Pot as Garden Tool Holder
Fill a terra-cotta pot with builder's sand (sold at hardware stores), then stir in some mineral oil—just enough to dampen the sand. The mixture will clean the tools and prevent corrosion and rust. (If the pot has a hole on the bottom, cover it with duct tape.)
Mailbox as Bird House
Attract new neighbors by nailing an old mailbox to a branch and watch house finches and wrens flock to feather their nests.
Pinecones as Flower-Box Filler
When autumn comes and the temperature dips, outdoor decorating becomes more challenging. Collect pinecones and pile them in an empty flower box for a pretty, no-maintenance display.
Rocks as Plant Decoration
Insulate potted plants with a layer of decorative pebbles on top of the soil.
Golf Bag as Garden Caddy
A spare golf bag can carry unwieldy rakes, shovels, and hoes from the garage to your own green fairway (er, backyard).
Rocks as Coat Rack
Construct an outdoorsy coat rack. Use a polyuerthane-based glue (try Gorilla Glue) to attach rocks to old drawer knobs, then screw the knobs into a plank of wood and mount it on a wall at eye-level in an entryway.
Rocks as Bookends
Keep books straight on a shelf. Add an earthy vibe to your reading collection by subbing in large smooth rocks for bookends.
Funnel as Twine Dispenser
Dispense yarn or twine at a craft station by placing the spool inside the funnel and pulling the end through the hole.
Plastic Bags As Wet Umbrella Holders
To avoid dripping water all over your (or anyone else's) house on a rainy day, pop your wet umbrella into a bag as you cross the threshold. You can even tie the handles snugly and throw it back into your purse―unless, of course, your bumbershoot is of Mary Poppins proportions but your carpetbag isn't.
Red Ornaments as Hungry Bird Banishers
Hang unbreakable ornaments on tomato plants early in the season. When pesky sparrows or blue jays come to peck, they’ll find the hard bulbs (instead of juicy treats) and abandon their attacks by the time the real fruits ripen.
Plastic Bag as Knee Pads
Need to kneel in your garden to pull weeds, or on the street to change a tire, but don't want to preserve the memory eternally on your pant legs? Grab a couple of plastic bags and tie one around each knee, covering the area that will be exposed to dirt and grime.
Plastic Bags as Hand Protectors
Fact: There are some things you'd just as soon not touch with your bare hands. Use bags as gloves to handle what's messy (say, chicken carcasses) or just plain gross (like the little "presents" the dog leaves in the front yard), then turn them inside out to trap the offending matter within for easy disposal.
Tube Socks as Wiper Protectors
Come on―when was the last time you wore them, anyway? Instead, slip a pair over your windshield wipers on the eve of a storm so you won’t have to deice the blades in the morning.
Candlestick as Bud Vase
Cut stems short and add water to keep blooms upright for a night. (Alas, beauty is fleeting.)
Coffee Can Lid as Twine Dispenser
Save your coffee can's lid from the recycling bin and use it to dispense twine. Simply poke a hole in the lid and run the twine through.
Frisbee® as Paper Plate Holder
Don't lose your dogs! At your next barbecue, place flimsy paper plates in sturdy plastic Frisbees® so guests can better balance their meals.
Oven Mitt as BBQ Utensil Holder
Slide all the utensils you'll need into an oven mitt and use the fabric loop to hang it on your grill. No more burned steaks because you forgot the meat thermometer inside.
Toothpaste as Goggle Defogger
Prevent goggles from fogging. Before hitting the pool, smear some paste onto the lenses, then wipe off.