Need to protect young seedlings from birds or stop voles from eating hosta roots? These dollar store mesh waste baskets can help. They have so many uses in the garden to protect plants and make garden tasks easier that I consider them an essential garden accessory.
Want more low-cost hacks? Also see 10 Surprisingly Good Dollar Store Finds for Gardeners.
Mesh Waste Basket Garden Hacks
Dollar stores are a mixed bag: some items are a good value; others seem like a waste of a dollar!
But one thing I’ve never regretted buying are these vinyl-coated mesh waste baskets. They have many uses in the garden and are surprisingly durable. I bought a few dozen of them years ago and they’re still going strong today.
Sizes vary somewhat between dollar stores but most sell a full-size basket like the one shown here (approximately 10 to 12-inches tall) and a smaller version about half that height.
When shopping, be sure you’re getting ones with 1/2-inch gaps in the mesh. There are other mesh waste baskets—usually more expensive—with much smaller gaps (1/8-inch) and a solid base (not mesh) but they are not as useful.
While this is an inexpensive item, it’s impossible to find them online by mail-order due to the size (shipping costs), so you’ll likely have to shop in-person at your nearest dollar tree or similar store.
Now let’s look at some of the ways you can use them.
1Protective Cloche for Seedlings and Young Plants
If you’ve ever had birds or other garden critters like squirrels and chipmunks eat or dig up your newly sprouted seedlings or freshly-planted plants, a cloche can save the day. Or, in this case, an upside-down mesh waste basket.
I use mesh waste baskets over all of my outdoor seedlings and transplants in pots, raised beds, and any in-ground plantings.
You can secure them in place with tent pegs or landscape staples (also called “garden stake pins”) if your animals are extra-determined.
I remove the baskets when the plants start to outgrow them and can fend for themselves.
This isn’t really practical for sifting large volumes of compost, but it works like a charm for small lots.
Fill the mesh basket with compost and shake it over another container.
The mesh is just the right size to sift out large pieces and let the good compost fall to the container below.
I do this when I need small amounts to top up outdoor containers.
I remember seeing this idea in a Garden Club newsletter years ago but I’ve never had a vole problem to test it out myself. But I’ve seen so many gardeners say it works, I’m confident it can help.
To keep voles from chewing the roots of hostas, dig up the hosta and replant it in a mesh basket using the same soil. This tip could work for any small plant or bulbs the critters are demolishing underground.
The basket is buried with the lip just above soil level.
The shallow-roots of the hosta do fine, and the voles, unable to dig through the mesh, go elsewhere for dinner.
You can also buy wire baskets to deter voles and gophers.
4Caddy for Small Garden Tools
This is what I use when weeding the garden. The large container is for the pulled weeds and the mesh basket on the side—attached with a large binder clip—keeps small tools handy including my pruners, dandelion puller, and my favorite garden knife.
I find this really helps me keep the tools handy without misplacing them amongst the plants as I work.
This simple setup can clear murky pond water within hours. It’s a variation of my Empress of Dirt Quilt Batting Method for Clean Pond Water.
How does it work? A piece of polyester quilt batting is sandwiched between two mesh baskets. The pond pump is placed inside with the return water hose aimed out the top. The whole thing is lowered into the pond with the lip of the basket just above water level. The batting works nicely to filter out algae from the water on its way to the pump.
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~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛