33 Things to Save for Next Year’s Garden

You don’t have to pinch pennies in order to grow a successful garden.

It’s true that starting a garden can get expensive, especially if you’re always running to the store for things like seed starting containers, fertilizer, and tools.

However, there are plenty of things you can save for next year’s garden that will help you reduce your household waste while also lessening the amount of money you need to spend on creating a beautiful, productive garden.

Here are some things that would be useful to save for your next garden…


This one might be the most obvious – but most beneficial!

Whenever possible, try to save as many seeds as you can. Not only can this help you save money, since you won’t have to rely on the seed store in order to get all of your favorite vegetables, but it can help you become more self-reliant. It’s a great way to make sure you always have the variety of plants you want, too.

You typically won’t be able to save seeds from plants that have been hybridized, but anything else is usually fair game. Keep in mind that if you’re growing multiple varieties near each other, you might have some issues with cross-pollination, too – next year’s generation might not grow true to seed.

2. Milk Jugs

Milk jugs are so helpful in the garden! You can use them to start seeds or you can turn them upside down to create miniature cloches (more on this below). You can also use them to water your plants.

Go here for more milk jug ideas.

drip irrigation plastic bottle in raised bed
drip irrigation plastic bottle in raised bed

3. Two-Liter Soda Bottles

These plastic containers have several great uses! If you cut the bottom off, you can use them to cover seedlings like mini greenhouses (or cloches). They also protect them from frost, wind, and strong rain.

You can also use them as a slow waterer for your plants. Cut the bottom of the bottle off, and stick the open spout part of the bottle into the ground about an inch or so from the stem. Fill it with water, and it will drain straight to the plant’s roots.

You’ll never waste water around the surface of the garden, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not your plant is getting enough to drink!

4. Old Mini Blinds

There are a few different ways you can use mini blinds in the garden, but one of my favorite things to do is to make garden markers out of them. Just cut them up – one set of blinds can make hundreds of markers.

Plus, you can write on both sides with permanent markers and not have to worry about them disintegrating in the summer sun and humidity!

5. Plastic “For Sale” or “Yard Sale” Signs

These make great label stakes to put in the garden. Cut them to size, and use a permanent marker to write the name of your plants on them. You’ll never have to wonder what you’ve planted there again!

6. Tin Cans

Tin cans are hugely helpful in the garden. Depending on the size, you can use them to store gardening supplies, to start seeds, or, my personal favorite, to create a hanging herb garden! You can paint them in whatever colors suit your style and then grow all kinds of edible arrangements to enjoy. Herbs work particularly well when grown in tin cans!

7. Wine Corks and Bottles

Wine corks make cute, whimsical garden markers. All you need to do is stick a skewer in one and pop it in the ground!

Plus you can turn the bottles into planters. You can even make a self-watering planter with an old wine bottle!

8. Broken Terracotta Pots

The next time you accidentally shatter your favorite terracotta pot, don’t let it get you down. Instead, turn the shards into little garden markers.

9. Plastic Cups

Plastic cups are great for starting seeds. Like milk jugs and two-liter bottles, they can also be used as clothes.

10. Ladders

A broken ladder is a safety hazard – we all know that! However, consider using a ladder in the garden. It makes a great trellis for your vining plants that like to sprawl!

11. Yogurt Containers

Yogurt containers, like the other containers made out of plastic that we’ve already told you about, are perfect for starting seeds indoors. Just be sure to poke holes in the bottom first!

12. Paper Towel Tubes

Paper towel tubes are also hugely helpful in the garden. These can be used to protect fragile young seedlings from pest damage.

13. Toilet Paper Tubes

Use these things to push into the soil around your young cabbage and tomato plants to protect them from cutworms.

tomato seedlings in toilet paper containers after 12 days
tomato seedlings in toilet paper containers after 12 days

14. Eggshells

I have a bucket of these under my sink that I’m saving for next year’s tomato plants. Collect your empty eggshells, wash them, and dry them in the sun.

When you are ready to plant your tomatoes, crush your eggshells up and sprinkle them around your plants. They give a much-needed boost of calcium, and help prevent Blossom End Rot.

You can even start seedlings inside eggshells! They’ll break down just like the toilet paper tubes.

15. Banana Peels

These can be hard to hang on to for an extended period of time, but when you happen to get them, go ahead and add them right to the garden. They add a ton of fertilizer – particularly potassium!

16. Old Boots and Shoes

Poke a few holes in the bottom and guess what? Your old boots and shoes are now planters!

17. Cardboard Egg Cartons

Great for starting seeds in!

18. Newspaper

Make your own paper pots, line your garden to keep out weeds, or shred it up and add it to your compost pile!

strawberry seedlings in newspaper pots inside cardboard box
strawberry seedlings in newspaper pots inside cardboard box

19. Old Nylon Stockings

What can you do with old nylon stockings or pantyhose? So much! You can use old pantyhose as a hammock to hang up heavy vegetables, like squashes or pumpkins. They can also be used to store things like onions once you’ve harvested them from the garden.

20. Scrap Fabric Strips or Old Clothing

These are useful for tying up your plants to stakes. The nylons do tend to get brittle after a while, but if you have a lot of them laying around you could simply replace the old ones when they start to break. You can also use nylons like a hammock to support heavy produce, like melons, growing vertically.

Strips of fabric, or old clothing, work really well for this too.

21. Junk CDs or DVDs

My mother in law hangs these around her garden to keep the deer away.


22. Wood Ashes (from untreated lumber)

When spread around garden beds it supposedly repels slugs and snails. Use it to raise your soil pH level. It’s also good for squash plants, as well as tomatoes (I’ve heard adding 1/4 c. of ashes directly into the hole before planting tomatoes does wonders), asparagus, onions and melons; non-acid loving plants.

23. Coffee Grounds

These are good to sprinkle around acid loving plants, like blueberries! Also good to compost.

Now, if you can only find a good place to hide all of this stuff until Spring… you’ll be glad you did!! Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear what you’re-purpose for using in your veggie garden!

tires filled with ash

24. Tires

Yes, tires! You can use tires in your garden as raised beds. They’ll keep weeds out and offer a fertile, protected environment for your plants to grow. The best tires to save are those from large equipment, like skidders or tractors. However, any tires will do the trick!

Don’t toss the rims, either. You can hang these on the side of your house or garage and use them as garden hose holders.

25. Old Silverware

Don’t throw out that varnished old set of spoons. Instead, hang on to it. You can use old silverware as plant markers in the garden or you can even string the pieces together to make a fun, whimsical wind chime.

26. Old Drums and Barrels

There are so many uses for old drums and barrels in the garden! Cut them in half and use them as planters – that’s my favorite idea.

27. Pallets

You can never have too many pallets. You can use a pallet as a vertical or horizontal planter. You can cut it up and use the slats to build new raised beds or planters – or you can even use the pieces as garden markers!

28. Popsicle Sticks

Popsicle sticks and other wooden sticks and skewers should be saved whenever possible. They don’t take up very much space and you can use them as garden markers.

29. Old Drawers

When you’re refinishing or getting rid of an old dresser, don’t toss the drawers. Save them! They make great little raised beds for the garden.

finished compost squeezed in hand

30. Compost

Obviously, compost is something you should be working to build and save all year long! Compost, whether it’s in its solid form or as a compost tea, is super helpful in fertilizing your plants. It’s a great way to get rid of all of your kitchen scraps over the winter, too!

31. Broken Dishes

Have a few old, broken dishes that you’re thinking about throwing out? Not so fast! You have a few options as to how you can use these up.

Consider gluing together the shards to make attractive, unique-looking garden stones. You can also use the individual shards as garden markers. Old, broken tea pots can be turned into bird baths, while thrifted coffee mugs that have lost their usefulness when it comes to your morning Joe can be remade into bird suet feeders.

32. Garbage Cans

Ready to ditch that old garbage can? They make great planters – so feel free to hang on to them even if they’re cracked along the sides.

33. Old Gardening Tools and Equipment

The fall and winter months are a great time to take a look at your existing garden inventory to see if anything needs to be cleaned, repaired, or replaced.

If you have some old gear, like rakes, wheelbarrows, or shovels, lying around – don’t toss them just yet! There are a few clever ways that you can breathe new life into this kind of gear.

Take a close look at what you have. An old rake can be pressed upright into the ground to serve as a potholder – a clever and attractive way to organize your garden! Wheelbarrows can be turned into planters and shovels can be broken into pieces to be used as garden markers.

You can even turn recycled hoses into fun garden mats by wrapping them into a single dense form.

Be Creative in Finding Items for the Garden

While all of these items are easy enough to find around the house, it’s important to note that the world is your oyster in terms of keeping your garden well-stocked and growing well. Just about anything can be repurposed to breathe new life into it – and into your garden.

From turning an old mattress into a trellis for your garden or using a shower caddy as a vertical planter, don’t be afraid to flex those creative muscles. You’ll be amazed at all the new inventions you will come up with!

save for next year Pinterest image

updated by Rebekah Pierce 07/02/2021

9 thoughts on “33 Things to Save for Next Year’s Garden”

  1. I save the plastic clam shells from my Costco croissants (I buy often lol) and use as mini green houses. I cut the 24 egg carton flats to fit inside them as seed starters.

  2. Old spoons work great as plant markers, and look pretty painted.
    Silver reflective ribbon left over from Christmas strung fluttering through the garden will confuse grackles and thieving birds away from your tomatoes, as will a length of old garden hose to appear as a snake. I found it useful as well to hang the ribbon on the posts of my trampoline to keep birds from perching and pooing on my play equipment! I’m always looking for ways to up-cycle!

  3. I use the cardboard toilet paper or papertowel rolls, cut to size for starting seeds. They are a perfect size. Then I just pop them in the ground in the spring and the cardboard breaks down in the soil…

  4. I save my 2 liter bottles & fill them with water in winter I cover my raised beds with PVC hoops & plastic, then place the filled bottles around in the beds during the day the sun heats up the water then at night they give off the heat to help warm the beds.

  5. Egg shells = good for eggplant and peppers as well.

    Cardboard milk/juice cartons = rinse well, dry well, cut up into strips. Cheap plant labels. They’re not waterproof so you do need to replace them when you transplant things and such, but still. Better than nothing. 😉

    Empty juice containers (like the Simply Orange type ones) = good for fresh pressed cider come fall. I finally used up our last ones. Finally.

    Cardboard egg cartons = really, really awesome fire starters. Stuff dryer lint in the egg cartons, melt some Parawax and pour some on top, let dry, and voila, awesome fire starters. Ah, good times in girl scouts…

    Just don’t ever use yogurt or cottage cheese containers to start seeds. The roots stick to the container rather than hanging out in the dirt, so transplanting doesn’t go as well as you’d most likely hope.

  6. save banana peels for tomato plants. I put the peels in the freezer & when I’m ready to plant my tomatoes I put a layer of banana peels down in the hole first. The tomatoes LOVE the potassium. Also, great finds at garage sales are rubber spatulas. I use them as garden stakes. I write what I’ve planted in permanent marker; then at the end of the season I simply scrub the spatula to remove the writing & use again next year. Love your site!


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