Power Through It
The beauty of fall is fleeting but the yard work that accompanies the season drags on forever—or so you thought. These 15 simple but reliable rituals make fall yard work as quick and easy as ever.
Turn Over a New Leaf
Want to spend less time clearing fall leaves? Where there's a rake there's a way! Stop raking leaves into small piles, and instead rake them directly onto an old tarp. Secure the tarp to the ground by staking it or placing heavy objects at the corners. Rake the leaves onto the tarp, remove the stakes, and then pull the sides of the tarp together to scoop up leaves swiftly.
You don’t need a rake or even a leaf blower to clear your turf of fallen autumn leaves. A single sheet of cardboard is enough to plow leaves off your property. Holding the thin edge of the cardboard to the ground, simply glide the lightweight material across the yard to clear the leaf litter almost instantly.
When yard work consists of pruning trees or clearing storm-damaged branches, it's your clothes that can suffer. All it takes is a dab of tree sap to leave a sticky stain. Instead of fretting over the fabric, dip a soft cloth into rubbing alcohol. Then, dab the doused cloth over the offending spot until it gradually disappears.
Living in a Vacuum
Good for more than clearing debris in the shop, a wet-dry vac can also clear nature’s litter from your gutters. After fitting a special attachment to the end of the vacuum hose, position the attachment inside the gutter and power up to siphon out leaves, twigs, and other debris, and leave your gutters sparkling clean.
It's a Blowout
Need to clear your deck of an avalanche of leaves? Before investing in a pricey leaf blower, enlist help from a cool member of your own household: a portable fan. Switch on the high-powered fan and watch as it plows through leaves and puts your deck back in business!
Something Green Afoot
If you want to strengthen your lawn in time for winter, start by strutting across it in these aerating sandals. The metal spikes on these shoes (available on Amazon) allow air, water, and fertilizer to reach deep into the soil, and help your grass establish a strong root system before winter arrives.
Put leftover beer to good use as a homemade fertilizer for your lawn. Combine a cold one with a cup each of ammonia and baby shampoo. Add the turf-friendly trifecta to a hose-end sprayer, and then spray it over your lawn to promote healthy grass growth.
Related: 19 "Zero Dollar" Garden Hacks
For the Birds
Keep your feathered friends’ feeding station spotless by regularly sanitizing bacteria-laden bird feeders. Remove the bird feeder components and soak them in a solution of equal parts water and vinegar. Reassemble the parts and keep the feeder filled to feed local birds as they prepare to fly south for the winter.
When summer annuals fade and fall flowers bloom, you may want to switch out your landscaping plants. Do the job without getting your hands dirty with this little secret: Set plastic plant pots into slightly larger pots sunken into the ground. When you want to make a swap, simply remove last season's plantings and drop in the new.
Killing weeds in fall delays their appearance in spring, which can help you work one step ahead of them all season. Mix up a homemade concoction to vanquish these pestersome plants—vinegar and salt make for a wonderful weed-killer. Dilute a cup of table salt in a gallon of vinegar. Then, pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spritz offending weeds to get a fresh start this spring.
When winterizing the yard, remember backyard birds. You can safeguard their winter water source by adding a black plastic trash bag to the base of your bird bath. The black material absorbs solar heat, keeping the water in a liquid state longer. Next up, drop a tennis ball into the water basin. As the ball floats on the water, it will break up ice as it forms so that your winged neighbors can swoop in for a refreshing drink even as temperatures dip.
Try this slick trick on your aluminum patio furniture to winterize it. Remove any cushions from the furniture, and then apply a layer of car wax to the metal surface using a sponge. The automotive accessory will not only protect your furniture from frost, but it will leave a lustrous finish!
Root of the Problem
As your summer vegetable garden fades and you're left with dead vegetable plants, clear the area of all but the cauliflower and broccoli stalks. Why? As the cold season continues, these cruciferous veggies will release poison that can reduce the population of wireworms, bringing you one step closer to a pest-free garden next spring.
Related: 8 Ways to Combat Garden Pests
Protect Your Pipes
Reduce the risk of outdoor plumbing parts freezing, or worse, cracking and breaking, by outfitting them in protective winter gear. Slip-on pipe fittings, like this one from Amazon, come in a variety of materials, shapes, and sizes, and offer protection from weathering and corrosion due to rainy or wintry conditions.
Seal the Deal
Does your wood fence need to be resealed before winter? The splash test can give you a definitive answer. Toss a glass full of water against a heavily weathered area of the fence. If the wood absorbs the water and darkens, it’s time to reseal the wood. On the other hand, if the water rests on the surface of the fence, this is one fall maintenance task you can skip!
Fall yard work doesn't have to be painful. With these tips and tricks you'll be able to do better things with your time than doing chores.
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!