Genius Ways To Use Aluminum Foil In Your Outdoor Living Space

By now, you're probably aware of the many uses for aluminum foil — from hacks that will give you a cleaner home to using foil in your garden for wrapping delicate seedlings. What might not have landed on your radar yet, however, is all the ways in which aluminum foil can be put to work in your outdoor living spaces. Whether you like to spend your outdoor time on a patio, a balcony, or in the backyard, there is undoubtedly at least one way that a roll or two of aluminum foil could make your life just a bit easier (and without a hefty price tag). 

Whether you're struggling with balcony plants that won't stand up straight, damp matches that make it difficult to light your bonfire, or a sticky grill that leaves a bitter aftertaste on your grilled delicacies, we've got your back — and so does aluminum foil. Consider this your guide to all that foil has to offer when it comes to your outdoor living spaces. 

Keep your barbeque grill clean and tidy

Spring and summer are the seasons of the barbecue. Whether you're hosting a pool party, a potluck, or just a family get-together, a clean grill is of the upmost importance. Cooking on a grill with dirty grates can leave bitter, burnt residue on your food. More importantly, built-up ash and dripping grease in the bottom of your grill can make temperature control impossible and even cause flareups and fires. Fortunately, aluminum foil can help keep your grill clean and safe this summer in two ways.

First, you can ball up aluminum foil to create a brush for cleaning your grill grates. All you have to do is scrunch up a foil ball about the size of a baseball. Use your grill tongs to hold the ball and then use it to scrub away the stuck-on grease and food residue buildup on your grates. Second, you can shape some aluminum foil into a baking sheet — either freehand or by using a pan as a mold. Place the molded foil tray into the bottom of your grill and let it serve as a drip pan. Combine these two tricks and you'll have the cleanest grill in town.

Overwinter your trees

If you live in an area that experiences winter weather, the trees in your yard can easily become food for desperate animals during the coldest, darkest season of the year. When the leaves, nuts, and berries have all disappeared and the ground has frozen, tree bark begins to look tasty to small mammals like squirrels and rabbits. This can be a major problem, especially for young trees that may not be established enough to survive losing their protective coating.

If you have a roll of aluminum foil, however, you can craft a second bark for your tree trunks. Just wrap the foil around each trunk from the ground up to the top, or as high as you can comfortably reach. You can simply mold the foil tightly around the trunk — no adhesive is required. If you're using thick, heavy-duty foil, two layers should be enough. If your foil is on the thin side, opt for three or four layers. Wrap your most vulnerable tree trunks as soon as the ground begins to freeze in late fall for protection throughout the entire cold season.

Scare birds away from your fruit trees

During the warmer seasons, birds can be the main concern when it comes to fruit-bearing trees — especially if your yard contains bird-attracting trees like mulberry. If the birds are enjoying more of your fruit harvest than you are (and then depositing their brightly-colored droppings on your patio or car to add insult to injury), a few strips of aluminum foil might be all you need to stop them in their tracks and send them on their way.

Birds' eyes are sensitive to the reflection of light. This means that hanging strips of foil from your fruit trees' branches can prevent them from stopping by for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you see success with hanging foil strips, but don't love the way they look, try swapping them out later for reflective party streamers, mirrors, or decorative prisms to serve the same purpose with a little more pizazz. You can also wrap foil around the branches that birds frequently perch on. The unnatural crunchiness of the foil will deter them from staying or returning. 

Craft a disposable frying pan for campfire cooking

Whether you're hosting a bonfire or a full camping staycation in your backyard, cooking over an open fire is an essential part of the experience. There is nothing more disappointing than gathering all your ingredients for a delicious, fresh campfire meal and then realizing that you don't have any cookware suitable for roasting over an open flame. Luckily, a humble roll of aluminum foil can once again come to your rescue.

Simply mold some aluminum foil into a square, rectangle, or circular pan shape. Use several layers of foil to reinforce the pan's strength and don't forget to extend those layers all the way up onto the sides to prevent collapse. If creating a pan shape on your own feels too difficult to master, just borrow a pan from your kitchen and use it as a mold. Pop the foil pan out of the real pan, return the original to the kitchen, and you're ready to create your culinary campfire masterpiece.

Build a sun box for patio plants

When you don't have the time or space for a full-sized garden, a patio or balcony can provide you with just enough space to grow your favorite outdoor plants. The only problem is that patios and balconies only receive direct sunlight from one direction, due to the house or building attached to them. As a result, plants grown on a patio often end up leaning toward the direction of that sun exposure.

If you'd rather have patio plants that stand up straight, you'll need to provide evenly distributed sunlight. Aluminum foil can help. Just grab a cardboard box and remove the front and top panels. Cover the inside with aluminum foil and place your plant(s) inside. If the foil feels loose, secure it with clear tape. The aluminum foil will reflect sunlight back toward your plant from all directions, doubling the sun it receives and encouraging it to stand tall and upright. 

Keep outdoor matches dry

Whether you prefer a backyard bonfire or a balcony citronella candle, nothing beats sitting around a cozy little fire on a summer night. For the sake of convenience, you might decide that you'll just keep a box of matches outdoors for such occasions. Unfortunately, as soon as it rains or morning dew accumulates, you'll end up with soggy, damp, unusable matches, if you don't take precautions to keep the box dry.

Thankfully, keeping your outdoor matches dry is as simple as reaching for a sheet of aluminum foil. Wrap the box of matches in the foil and make sure all the sides and corners are covered. No matter how much moisture there is, the box will be dry the next time you reach for a match. This trick can be used any time you need to keep an item dry; you can even place aluminum foil under your sleeping bag to prevent the wet ground from soaking it when you're sleeping outdoors.

Collect rainwater for watering plants

If you're interested in both keeping plants and conserving water, aluminum foil can help you reach your goals. For those trying to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, this hack is perfect for you. Rather than going to your sink to get water every time you need to give your plants a drink, you can simply craft your own rainwater-catching container out of aluminum foil. Just grab some foil and start molding it into a bowl shape.

Be sure to flatten the bottom of your foil bowl so it can sit flat on whichever surface you place it on. You may wish to mold a second layer or two of aluminum foil once you've finished its shape to ensure that there are no cracks or gaps that would allow water to leak out. Then, leave the reusable, yet disposable, bowl out where it can collect rainwater and use that water for all your houseplants.