31 yard tool hacks that’ll make your life easier
These simple and smart updates to everyday yard tools will make your outdoor chores a heck of a lot easier this season.
Make lifting heavy loads with your wheelbarrow a little more pleasant by adding these cushioned hand grips. Reuse an old rubber bike tube by cutting pieces to fit over the wheelbarrow handles. If needed, use a hair dryer to warm up the rubber and make it easier to stretch. The bike tube provides the perfect amount of padding and traction. Find out how to use a wheelbarrow to lift heavy objects.
To edge your lawn, garden, or flowerbed, lay down a 38x140mm plank of wood. While holding the board with your foot, drive a flat spade along the board’s edge. Move the board as needed to create a clean, straight line.
Make changing the oil in your lawnmower and outdoor machines less messy with this handy hint: Cut off a piece of an empty cereal box and fold it into a trough. Then tip the machine and use the trough to guide the oil into the waste pan. The glossy coating on the cereal box keeps the oil from soaking through. Head here to find out what you need to do for spring mower maintenance.
To avoid a lot of string trimmer work, I like to mow as close as possible to trees and buildings. But the grass chute on my riding mower prevents it. So I drilled a hole in the chute and tied a rope from the chute to a handle on the side of the tractor. Now I can lift up the chute without missing a beat, and cut way down on string trimmer work. – Travis Larson
If you keep a few tools handy while you mow, you can deal with stray weeds as you notice them – no need to hunt for them later. Short sections of PVC pipe taped to the mower’s handle will hold tools and other necessities.
After you’ve had remodelling or roofing work done on your home, it’s not unusual to get a flat tyre from old nails or other hardware left behind. As soon as the roofing contractors’ taillights were out of my driveway, I rigged up this drag using rope and a 60cm magnetic bar tool holder. I drag it everywhere I’ll be driving. It picks up much more metal debris than the wheeled type, which doesn’t actually touch the ground. It sure beats the cost and hassle of a flat tyre. – Steve Rodgers
Here’s a quick and easy way to eyeball rain gutters for possible clogs – before the next downpour causes an overflow. Cut a 60-degree angle on the end of a piece of PVC pipe and tape a hand mirror to the angled end. Hoist the mirror above the gutter to spot leaves and mini jams. Head here to find out how to install your own gutters.
Fertilising bushes or other dense plants requires getting the fertiliser to the base of the plant, so I use a length of 5cm PVC. Slide one end down to the plant base and pour the fertiliser into the pipe. Cut the top of the pipe at 45 degrees to give yourself a larger opening to pour in the fertiliser. – Gordon R. Watson
Here are 4 common fertiliser blunders and how to avoid them.
Save your back when raking mulch or shovelling heaps of dirt by adding another handle to your long-handle tools. A section of PVC pipe with a tee fitting and cap work perfectly. Add a screw through the tee fitting and into the handle for won’t-budge stability. Find out how to make free mulch here.
When it’s time to clean out the refrigerator, be sure to save those plastic berry containers for repurposing ideas. You can toss the mushy raspberries, but wash and dry the container –it’s perfect for spreading grass seed on your lawn! Follow this tip to remember where you have placed grass seed.
Getting mulch up close to flowers and bushes is easier if the mulch is in a small container. So I place buckets and pails in my wheelbarrow and fill them up with mulch. It doesn’t matter much if the mulch misses the bucket and lands in the wheelbarrow. Once you’re done dumping the buckets, dump what’s left in the wheelbarrow in an open area and spread it out. – Eric Swartz
Working with heavy, clay-packed soil? Keep your shovel clean and make your job easier by spraying it with silicone. The light coating will prevent dirt from sticking, so you can work fast. Be sure to use a lubricant that contains silicone or Teflon and recoat the shovel occasionally. Head here to find out how to space plants evenly using a shovel.
We spend a ton of time planting, fertilising and watering our flowers. Once, while dragging the hose across the yard, I inadvertently raked it across the garden and destroyed a bunch of flowers. My solution was to make a path for the hose using the wickets from my croquet set. As I’m watering, I feed the hose through the wickets, keeping my flowers safe. – Ryne Rover
Try a garden rake instead of a hoe the next time you have to mix concrete. The rake won’t splash as much water over the edge, and the tines do a good job of combining the water with the powder. Here’s how to repair cracked concrete.
I only own one watering can, so I need to refill it four or five times to water all of the plants on my patio. Instead of buying more overpriced watering cans, I use old milk cartons. I drill a few holes in the caps, fill up the jugs with water and I’m good to go. – Harrison Berg
This compact rack is strong and simple to build. You can store shovels, rakes, a sledgehammer – any long-handled tools – conveniently up and out of the way. The unit holds up to 14 items, giving you more flexibility and storage capacity than nails pounded in the wall. See how to build it.
If you have a yard or a garden, you know that there are a lot of long-handled tools involved. You probably also know how obnoxious it is when you need the shovel or the rake and have to walk all over to find it. All you need for this organisation hack is a pallet, a couple of screws and a drill. And if you don’t have any pallets lying around, they are easy to get for free. Many businesses will give them to you, but you should call first! This is a quick one-hour project and after you’re done, your tools will be organised and easy to reach.
You could easily attach this pallet to a fence, shed or to the exposed wall studs in your garage. No matter what you choose, you’ll want to make sure that your screws are long enough to go through both your pallet and the wall you are attaching it to. We drilled two screws into the pallet, one into each exposed wall stud. You won’t need a ton of screws or nails because the pallet isn’t all that heavy. Now you have a quick and (possibly) free way to store your lawn tools!
Get a better grip on your straight-handled shovel by epoxying a 2cm PVC tee to the end.
I had to dig a 5cm wide x 15cm deep x 128cm long trench for low voltage wire between my rock walkway and landscape rock planting area, about 10-15cm wide area to work in. I started with a trowel and then moved to 5cm wide x 30cm long pry bar on my hands and knees, not great for my old knees and slow. An idea came to mind, why not mount the pry bar on an old hoe handle I had in the garage. It worked great!
Picking up unwanted fallen fruit under a tree can be a chore, but this tool will make the job much easier on your back. Attach a frog spear head to the end of a broom handle or extension pole. Slightly mashing smaller apples with your foot first makes spearing them a bit easier.
Have you ever needed to create a hole in dry soil that’s as hard as concrete? Well, why not treat it as if it really were concrete and drill holes into it with a masonry bit? This bit measures 1cm x 30cm and can be found at a hardware store.
Instead of throwing away empty laundry detergent containers, rinse them out thoroughly and then recycle them for watering plants. Drill 3mm holes in the top of the cap, and a 1cm hole just above the handle to relieve pressure so the water flows freely.
You’d be amazed how easy it is to move heavy, awkward objects with three pieces of PVC pipe. Move playhouses, yard sheds, empty hot tubs and rocks weighing well over a ton with this trick. Use 10cm-diameter PVC, which is available from hardware shops. Here’s how to do it:
Lift the front edge of the stone with a pry bar and slip two pipes underneath. Place one near the front and one about midway so the stone rests on the pipes.
Position the third pipe a foot or two in front of the stone.
Roll the stone forward onto the third pipe until the rear pipe comes free. Then move the rear pipe to the front and repeat.
This technique works best on relatively flat ground. On mild slopes, you’ll need a helper to shift pipes while you stabilise the load. Don’t use this method on steeper slopes.
Keep cold water within reach when mowing the lawn on hot days. Simply attach an empty (and clean) tin can to the handle of your walk-behind mower using zip ties. Be sure to select a can that is large enough to fit your water bottle!
Take one of your shop vacuum attachments to the hardware store and find a PVC tee that fits. Drill a hole in the tee large enough to accept a screwdriver, place a small plywood spacer behind it and screw it to the wall.
This gutter cleaner is inexpensive, takes about 10 minutes to make and will help you avoid ladder climbing. Buy 2cm PVC pipe, two elbows, a garden hose coupling and a cap at a local hardware shop. Drill 15mm holes in the cap as shown. Make the handle long enough to comfortably reach your gutters, and cement the parts together with PVC glue. Here’s another easy way to clean gutters.
Reuse your grated cheese (or herb) container to shake grass seed on bare spots in your lawn. The holes in the container are the perfect size for dispensing just the right amount without overdoing it.
No need to rent a cement mixer, you can whip up a large batch of concrete with a heavy-duty tarp and a helper. Just pour the concrete mix in the centre of the tarp, make a well and add the recommended amount of water. Then you and a friend each lift two corners of the tarp, churning the ingredients until the concrete is the perfect consistency. Pour it directly from the tarp into the form. Find out how to make a concrete BBQ bench.
Flat-edged shovels usually don’t need much sharpening, but shovels with a curved edge depend on the sharpness of the edge to easily penetrate tough soil, roots and other materials. Keep this edge crisp by periodically cleaning and sharpening the blade. A large file can help add a new edge, but if the shovel has some serious dings and nicks, you will need a grinder to really buff out the edge. Follow this essential guide to grinders, files and rasps.
A rubber chair leg cap instantly converts a hammer into a rubber mallet. And if you want to drive a nail without denting the surrounding wood, cut a hole in the rubber cap. Pound until the rubber strikes wood, then finish driving the nail with a nail set. A 28mm rubber cap fits tightly over most hammers and costs about $1 at hardware stores.
This versatile tool holder design fits a variety of long-handled garden and yard tools, including those with “D-shaped” handles. Before getting started, measure your tool handles – especially the ones with D-shaped handles – to make sure they’ll fit the dimensions shown in the plan at far right. If not, you can easily adjust the grid measurements to fit your own tools. Head here for more great garage storage solutions.
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Source: The Family Handyman