Three Yard Tasks That Will Save You Money

Winterizing the yard, garden, and sheds for winter is a long and tiresome list of chores. If we look at the tasks in a different perspective, the motivation may be just enough to enjoy the crisp weather and the splendor of the fall season.

  1. Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!

Every fall, neighborhood streets are piled tall and wide with our most valuable natural resource—leaves! All of the effort, time, and energy used to rake or blow them onto the street could be used for a greater purpose. The answer is leaf mulch, also known as leaf mold. Why purchase bags of mulch when you can create your own? In fact, collecting leaves and allowing them to decompose is a great benefit for lawns and gardens. You’ll discover leaf mulch also acts as a weed preventative.

1st step: Wait on raking! Mow the grass with the purpose of shredding the leaves.

2nd step: If your lawnmower has a bag or grass-catcher, you can collect the shredded leaves quickly; otherwise, you will need to rake. (Remaining leaves will improves the soil without suffocating the grass.)

3rd step: Create a place for composting.   Here are a few examples.

  • Place leaves in heavy-duty bags, punch three holes in the bottom for drainage, water to dampen (not soak), and tie.
  • Establish a small composting area with chicken wire and water periodically. (The decomposition process takes longer)  
  • Adding leaves to your garden will improve its texture, help them continue to absorb moisture, and will allow roots to penetrate deeper. Leaf-loving earthworms facilitate the decomposition process and spread nitrogen, carbon and trace minerals throughout the soil.

Leaves are nature’s gifts to help you promote the growth of flowers, shrubs, trees, and homegrown foods.

  1. Cleaning Gardening Tools

Gardening-tool cleaning and maintenance is rarely put on the end-of-year chores list; yet, it is the one task that can save you money (by preventing rust and helping them to continue to work properly year after year.)

  • Check your shovels, hoes, rakes, and other tools for loose handles.
  • Use grinders or files to sharpen the blades of pruners, hedge- and grass-clippers.
  • A wire brush dipped in water will remove dried or caked-on dirt from tools such as trowels and rakes. Use a cloth to ensure tools are dry.
  • With sandpaper, soften wooden handles and coat with linseed oil to preserve the wood.
  • Metal parts require cleaning with steel wool; afterward, wipe the metal dry, then coat with vegetable oil to prevent rust. (Tomato cages, too!)
  • Sandpaper, a wire bristle brush, or immersing the tool in strong, hot, black tea (for several hours) will remove rust.
  • Empty lawn mowers and tillers of fuel. Clean the mower deck and lines of debris. This is a great time to change your tiller’s oil, clean the filter, and check the spark plugs.
  • Drain and connect hoses together before storing. Including hoses, it is preferable to hang all tools to prevent moisture and rust from occurring.

Make a list of essentials garden tools or accessories. Most of the items you need are in stock and may be on sale.

  1. Seed Preservation

At the beginning of the season, it is easy to buy too many perennials or seed packets during the first “shopping opportunity” of the spring season. Too often, seed packets may germinate while stored in a garage or basement, if humidity or temperatures begin to fluctuate. The best place to store seeds is in the freezer. (Except onions, most varieties will keep for three years.)

Additional Tips:

  • Always keep the seeds in their original packets to ensure you have the planting instructions.
  • Write the year and place of purchase on each packet.
  • Use a damp paper towel annually to check the viability of the seeds.

Greater Tasks Ahead

The next question is: Are you thinking about making cold frames, keeping a winter garden, researching a small root cellar, or learning more about how to store seeds such as sunflowers, cornflowers, or marigolds? Further money-saving tasks will propel you forward if you are ready now, or need the time to ponder (with a hot chocolate in your hand).