30+ Yard Tool Hacks That’ll Make Your Life Easier
Save your back! These simple and smart updates to everyday yard tools will make your outdoor chores a heck of a lot easier this season.
Better wheelbarrow grips
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.
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Simple lawn edging
To edge your lawn, garden, or flowerbed, lay down a 2×6. 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.
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Oil change trough
Make changing the oil in your lawnmower, snowthrower 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.
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Lawn mower grass chute saver
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
Accessorize your mower
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 tire 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 24-in. 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 tire. —Steve Rodgers
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I-spy rain gutter
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.
Fertilizing bushes or other dense plants requires getting the fertilizer to the base of the plant, so I use a length of 2″ PVC. Slide one end down to the plant base and pour the fertilizer into the pipe. Cut the top of the pipe at 45 degrees to give yourself a larger opening to pour in the fertilizer. —Gordon R. Watson
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Handy rake handle
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.
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Grass seed broadcaster
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!
Easy mulch spreading
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
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Slick shovel hack
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.
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New use for old backyard game pieces
We spend a ton of time planting, fertilizing 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
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Mix concrete with a rake
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. With a hoe, you waste a lot of time just pushing powder around the tub.
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Turn an empty milk jug into a watering can
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 jugs. I drill a few holes in the caps, fill up the jugs with water and I’m good to go. —Harrison Berg
Long-handled tool rack
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.
Use a pallet to store lawn and garden equipment
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 pallet organization 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! Another great place to check is local Craiglist ads. This is a quick one-hour project and after you’re done, your tools will be organized 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!
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Get a grip
Get a better grip on your straight-handled shovel by epoxying a 1-in. PVC tee to the end.
Makeshift trench tool
I had to dig a 2″ wide x 6″ deep x 50′ trench for low voltage wire between my rock walkway and landscape rock planting area, about 4-6″ wide area to work in. I started with a trowel and then moved to 2″ wide x 12″ 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!
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Easy apple spear
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.
Need a hole in hard soil? Use a drill!
Have you ever waited too long to install your reflective driveway markers and discovered the ground was frozen? Or tried to install a yard sale sign 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 3/8-in. x 12-in. bit costs less than $20 at home centres.
Laundry jug watering can
Instead of throwing away empty laundry detergent containers, rinse them out thoroughly and then recycle them for watering plants. Drill 1/8-in. holes in the top of the cap, and a 1/2-in. hole just above the handle to relieve pressure so the water flows freely.
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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 four-in.-diameter ‘Schedule 40’ PVC, which is available from home centres. 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 stabilize the load. Don’t use this method on steeper slopes.
Tin can water bottle holder
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!
Vacuum attachment holder
Take one of your shop vacuum attachments to the home center 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.
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No-ladder gutter cleaner
This gutter cleaner is inexpensive, takes about 10 minutes to make and will help you avoid ladder climbing. Buy 3/4-in. PVC pipe, two elbows, a garden hose coupling and a cap at a local home center. Drill 1/16-in. holes in the cap as shown. Make the handle long enough to comfortably reach your gutters, and cement the parts together with PVC glue.
Sprinkle grass seed like grated cheese
Reuse your grated cheese 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.
Tarp cement mixer
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.
Sharpen your shovels
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, ice 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.
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 1-1/8-in. rubber cap fits tightly over most hammers.
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Build a space-saving yard tool holder
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.
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