Mid-October, we entered gorgeous Colorado fall.
Our backyard looks like a heaven – I love the fallen leaves so much. The pups love to run through them too.
However much I love the leaves, they need to be raked up for a healthier lawn. An early snow and wind also filled our yard with branches:
We have been slowly accumulating gardening tools and gadgets to make yard maintenance easier. Even though I did not know about many of them, I was immediately a fan. Here are a few of my favorites that made yard work more enjoyable:
1. Electric Pole Saw
We have some tall trees on the property. Because of the uneven ground, trimming them with a chainsaw on a tall ladder is not always safe. So we invested in a pole saw when it was on sale. It makes taking down tall branches very easy. But what I did not expect, is how fun it is to use it! Slav almost treated it as a toy. He waved it around the yard taking down dead branches from our trees with such an excitement. None of our poor trees escaped; they all got some kind of haircut one way or another.
This pole saw is pretty powerful – it cuts into brunches a few inches in diameter like butter, and does not bounce much. It eliminates the need of a tall ladder 95% of the time, which made trimming trees a lot safer. Slav used it to trim some big branches off the tree on the side of our house. It is technically our neighbor’s tree, but its canopy shades our side yard and roof. It now looks much better.
2. Portable Branch chipper/shredder
Fall brings so much branches and leaves, especially after we got the pole saw. Branches started accumulating in our yard and we could not burn them fast enough. Not wanting them to suffocate the lawn, we got a compact branch chipper/leaf shredder from Harbor Freight Tools. This one is small and compact, but powerful enough for branches up to 1 1/2 inch size, which is what we needed. Anything bigger than that we usually burn them as firewood.
The chipper came in one piece, so the only installation we did was to put the chipper on wheels, which took me 5 minutes:
The leaves and branches are shredded into small chips, similar to a fine mulch. We do not have lots of plants to mulch yet, so I put them into our compost. We get tons of kitchen waste and always need more carbon-rich materials. A clean lawn and a growing compost – a total win-win in my book!
3. A Garden Caddy
To transport more things while doing yard work, we found this wheelbarrow caddy in the Habitat for Humanity for $10. I had never used one before – heck, I have never used a wheelbarrow before! For $10, I decided to give it a try.
It is basically a caddy that goes on top of a wheel barrel, so you can put small items inside while transporting soil and mulch. It should fit snuggly onto standard size of wheel barrels. For ours, it does not fit perfectly, but does stay on top.
It is pretty useful to keep small things separated and clean. I listen to podcasts while gardening, and I keep my phone in the middle compartment. The green lid can be closed to keep water and dust out, and the small compartments on each side are great for snacks and speakers. I also like to carry some hot tea in my coffee mug, so the cup holders got used a lot. The big compartment carries a hose, garden gloves, and a set of small gardening tools, which I use regularly.
Coming next Spring, we have big plans of setting up vegetable beds and maybe a green house to raise seedlings early. I am sure the wheel barrel and this caddy will get lots of use.
4. A Potting Station
When we renovated our garden shed, we got rid of an old potting bench to gain more storage. We knew we want some kid of work surface in or near the shed before next spring. One day, Slav spotted this potting station for $40:
It is made by backyard gear as a garden cart as well as a BBQ serving station. Being plastic and tolerates sun well, it makes a great potting station. Similar carts are sold for over $100 brand new, so $40 is a pretty reasonable price to us.
The left side handle can be used to move the cart around as well as hang tools, and there is a fold-able shelf on the right:
It comes with a small drainer that you can put on top:
And the top panels fold out to provide more working surface.
The middle panels folds out to the back and there is a small sink below:
Pretty handy for washing and draining vegetables:
To bring water to the faucet, there is a port at the back for connecting to garden hose:
The bottom cabinet offers shelves and drawers – lots of storage space:
So far, I have kept it on our back patio as a serving cart. The sink can be filled with ice, and it just looks so cute on our new patio.
5. A Compost Update
It has been a little over a month since we first set up our compost.
If you remember it, I layered the left one with grass clippings and kitchen scraps and left it alone, while using the right one for new kitchen scrap accumulation. I watered the left bin well and basically left it alone – I probably turned it twice since setting it up.
And here it is as of today, 5 weeks after:
The pile has reduced to 40% of its volume and I think we are getting some compost:
The cardboard I laid at the bottom has completely disintegrated:
The stuff in the right bin also composted at the bottom, but with new things added every day, the top is still in works:
The back of the shed does not get much sun. Since winter is coming, I decided to move them to the right side of the shed in order to keep the temperature in those bins as high as possible:
I combined all the half-way-ready compost into the left bin and layered some new glass clipping on top – this bin will be left alone again for the winter:
On the right, I laid down leaves and this will be our accumulation bin, which means new things will be added as we go.
These bins worked very well for me – despite the food waste we put in, there was never any rodents. I did not even find bugs in the compost, which means the temperature was high enough in these bins to keep them out. The compost kept moisture well too – I think I only watered the bins once during these 5 weeks and our air is usually dry. But everything broke down nicely.
Here you have it, five garden tools/gadgets that make gardening easier. Do you have a favorite gardening tool? How did you find it? We have big plans to convert this backyard to an urban farm/garden, so there will be lots of gardening next spring!