If you tend to your own garden, you already know that time is always at a premium. There’s a never-ending list of things to do, chores to handle, and projects to start, or sometimes cancel!
It’s a good idea, then, to draw on any technique, tip or hack that can make your life just a little bit easier.
One such hack is using beer in a variety of clever and interesting ways in your garden. No, I’m not kidding and yes, beer really does have a variety of legit uses in your garden.
Everything from pest control to directly fertilizing soil and even getting a jump start on your compost heap.
A little beer can go a long way, and this is the perfect way to recycle stale or old beer that you don’t want anymore. Keep reading and I will tell you about 11 such clever ways to use beer in your own garden.
Be Sure to Let Your Beer “Rest” Before You Put it on Delicate Plants
Before we get to the list directly, I must inform you that it is a good idea to let your beer rest for a time before you put it on delegate plants if you’re going to use it as a fertilizer or boost to their usual watering routine.
Though most beers are not particularly strong and don’t contain that much alcohol, they may contain enough alcohol to harm plants, either through direct contact or if absorbed by their roots. But, you don’t need to worry about this because there is an easy solution.
Simply open your beer and let it rest for a day or two. Alcohol content will rapidly evaporate, leaving behind the water with a variety of sugars, yeast and minerals inside that are all good for plants.
On the other hand, for certain uses you definitely want the alcohol content in the beer, so you shouldn’t use it for the purpose if it has sat open for a while.
Anyway, that is all you need to know regarding prep work for making beer work for you in your garden. Now let us get on to the list.
11 Clever Ways to Use Beer in the Garden
1. Compost Jump Starter
One of the single best uses for old, stale, or unfinished opened beer is as a compost pile jump starter.
When I say jump starter, I mean the beer can help get the various microorganisms in the compost pile going, the very same ones that are responsible for breaking down the organic matter and turning the various components into compost!
Sugars, salts, yeast and more in beer are all good for your compost pile. There really isn’t any more to do or say about it, simply take your beer, pour it over your compost pile and then stir or turn it as normal when required.
2. Fungi Killer
Beer can also be used as a very effective fungicide for your plants. If you have any problems with fungus or mildew, simply make a mixture of beer and water in a 2:1 ratio and use it to treat the affected area.
You can either spray it on or use a cloth to apply it directly to the problem spot or spray it on with a spray bottle or mister.
Be sure to reapply every few days or as required until the problem is gone. This is a great and safe way to treat fungal outbreaks on weakened plant and tree limbs before it has time to take hold or spread.
3. Slug and Snail Killer
Beer is also a great way to get rid of slugs and snails in your garden. They love the smell of the stuff, apparently, and attracted to it, so all you need to do is leave an open bowl or container of beer near where they are known to congregate and they will crawl in and drown.
You should use straight, undiluted beer for this job but it does not have to be fresh. You will, though, need to fashion a top for the dish so that rain and dew won’t dilute the beer and weaken its lethal properties- lethal for the slugs and snails, that is!
Simply cut off the neck of an appropriately sized plastic bottle or container to make a lid, and then cut a few holes low on the sides to allow the slugs access.
Also, be sure to use a container the slugs won’t have too hard a time climbing into but one that is deep enough that the slugs can drown in it.
Once the slugs make it into the beer, attracted by the alluring odor, they will not be able to make it out again and will drown in the brew. It’s a bad way to go, but it is them or your plants!
Believe it or not, beer can be used as a fertilizer for your plants. The hops in beer contain a lot of potassium, which is great for plant growth, and the yeast is full of nutrients that help promote healthy roots.
Note that this is one use you should let the beer rest for, at least 24 hours, opened, and preferably 48 to make sure all the alcohol is evaporated away.
To use beer as a fertilizer, simply dilute it with water (about 1 part beer to 10 parts water) and pour it around the base of your plants.
Be careful not to get any on the leaves, as this can cause brown spots. Your plants will definitely respond to the nutrients!
You can also use beer in this exact same way for fertilizing the soil in advance of planting. Just pour it around where you will be planting, let it soak in, and then plant when ready.
5. Grass Greener
Don’t I mean greener grass? No! I mean grass greener, something that can be used to spruce up your dull or dying grass.
All you need is a case of beer and a little molasses. Take your beer, anywhere from 6 to 12 bottles depending on the size of the patch that needs some TLC, and then add 2 to 4 tablespoons of molasses to it. Mix well until the molasses are totally dissolved.
Now just pour this mixture into a garden sprayer or liquid broadcaster attachment and you are ready to go.
Spray the solution over the patch of grass you wish to green up and watch in the coming days as the change occurs. This mixture offers a one-two punch of nutrition and fungal control, both great for greener grass.
6. Wasp Bait
Beer works wonders as wasp bait. There is a reason you always think they are targeting you at picnics and cookouts! They are indeed attracted to the smell of beer.
Be the wasps, hornets, or some other flying, stinging jerk makes no difference. All you need to do is pour beer into any existing wasp trap that uses liquid bait or make one yourself.
You can do this by taking a 2-liter bottle and cutting the top off just below the shoulder. Next, invert the neck, cap removed, and place it into the bottle, fitting it snugly and taping if necessary.
Add some small holes for twine or wire to hang it. Now your wasp trap is ready for baiting.
Pour some beer into the neck until it is about half full (halfway to the opening of the neck inside the body of the bottle) and set it or hang it outside near where you have seen wasps congregating or wherever they usually bother you.
The wasps will be attracted to the odor of the beer and fly into the bottle through the small opening in the neck.
Once inside, they will not be able to fly back out and will eventually drown. Works like a charm! Make sure you take care when emptying it, as you want to be damn sure the little devils are actually dead.
7. Fly Trap
Beer also works well for attracting and killing fruit flies and other produce-pummeling pests. You’ll need to use it in conjunction with a slightly different trap to catch them, though.
As above, you can use beer as replacement bait in any ready-made fly trap that uses liquid bait.
Alternately, you can make your own with plastic wrap, a sturdy cup, a rubber band, a pencil or nail, and of course your beer!
Start by taking your cup and pouring beer in until it is halfway full. Next, take your plastic wrap and stretch it over the top of the cup, securing it tightly around the rim with the rubber band.
You don’t want to leave even the smallest gap here. Make sure the wrap is taut so that no gaps exist between it and the cup. Now gently poke a few small holes in the surface of the plastic wrap with a pencil or nail.
You want uniform, round holes that aren’t so small your prey will have to try and squeeze through. They should be able to just walk on in from the surface.
All that is left is to place the fly trap in an area where you have seen produce-loving pests hanging around and wait for them to be drawn in by the beer. Once they enter through one of the holes, most will not be able to escape and will drown.
8. Butterfly Attractant
Believe it or not, beer seems to be a surefire bit of butterfly bait. Only this time, we aren’t using it to trap and kill these beautiful, helpful pollinators.
This is another use where you should let your beer age so the alcohol content is gone, though if you do this right you won’t need to worry about it since it will evaporate quick enough when outdoors.
To use beer as a butterfly attractant, all you must do is put it in a shallow dish or pie pan and then tightly cover it with mesh or coarse cloth.
This will keep the butterflies from reaching the beer (and maybe drowning) but they will quickly move on to visiting your other plants and flowers in no time.
Try hanging the pan from a nearby branch or even affixing it to a fencepost for best results. Keeping it off the ground seems to work best, as butterflies don’t like to drink from ground level.
9. Remove Rust from Garden Tools
Beer even has some heavy-duty uses in your garden or shop. If you have any rusty gardening tools lying around, beer can be used to remove the rust and restore them to their former glory.
Simply soak the rusted tool in beer for about 20 minutes to a few hours, or even overnight in the case of severely rusted tools, then scrub with a stiff brush or steel wool. The acid content will help to loosen and remove the rust while the carbonation works to dislodge it from nooks and crannies.
You can do this by spritzing it on with a spray bottle, soaking a cloth and laying it on the affected area, or even immersing the tool right in the beer if it is small enough.
Let it soak, then get to scrubbing. If it seems particularly stubborn a longer soak is called for.
10. Spruce Up Ornamental Plants
If you have any potted plants or other ornamentals around your home or garden, beer can be used as a quick pick-me-up to give them a boost.
Simply mix one part of beer (well rested) with 10 parts of water and use it to water your plants as usual.
The nutrients in the beer will help to perk up wilting or yellowing leaves, giving your plants a healthy green color.
11. Tree Protector
One of my favorite uses for beer in the garden and around my property is also one of the most ingenious.
You can use a combination of beer and common dish soap to help protect your trees from invasive, harmful insects and other critters.
All you need to do is mix around 6 bottles or cans of beer with one cup of dish soap. Stir thoroughly, mind the suds, and then add the solution to a garden sprayer.
Thoroughly spray the solution all around the base of your trees, making sure to get the mixture on the bark and exposed roots.
This will create a barrier that pests will have a hard time getting past while also nourishing the tree.
Reapply as necessary, especially after heavy rains or if you notice any new infestations or activity.
Beer Really is a Miraculous Beverage
After reading all the ways you can use beer in your garden, it’s hard not to think of this beverage as a miracle liquid.
From removing rust and pests to sprucing up plants and protecting trees, beer seems to be the solution for everything.
Who would have thought that something so tasty could be so versatile? So next time you’re enjoying a cold one, don’t forget that you can put your leftovers or old brews to good use. Don’t pour them out!
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.