Why is it that your yard never looks pulled together, despite your efforts to trim and maintain the garden and keep the deck and patio area clean? Take a good, hard look: is there clutter out there? Chances are, you have at least a couple of the items on this list that could probably make their way to a recycling or garbage bin in no time.
When we say "get rid of," we aren't suggesting that you throw it out in your garbage bin or over your fence and into the neighbors' yard. This is the time to practice repairing, repurposing, recycling, or disposing of hazardous materials in the appropriate place.
No matter how nice your outdoor furniture is or how well maintained the hedges and borders are, if there is a mess lurking in the yard—even around the corner—it's going to detract from the pleasure of outdoor relaxation and entertaining. Get your work gloves on, roll up those sleeves, and get ready to declutter your yard!
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Decluttering the Yard: Old Garden Furniture
Before you start hauling the old garden furniture off to the dumpster, inspect it carefully and ask yourself:
- Is it repairable?
- If so, do you have the DIY skills and desire to refurbish it?
- If not, is it vintage and possibly collectible or desirable to someone else?
Now that your mind is swirling with this new information, you can either repair it, have it repaired, donate it to a charitable thrift organization or store, or sell it yourself, on a site like Craigslist.
If, say, a chair has completely fallen apart, at the very least, consider disposing of it in the recycling bin.
Is it Collectible Vintage Patio Furniture?
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Cleaning the Yard: Old Paint
First off, don't toss it in the garbage. There might be a special recycling center for paint in your area. Check paintcare.org for a list of drop-off locations and products accepted. Among them: Interior and exterior architectural paints, deck coatings, stains, primers and sealers, waterproofing sealers and repellents, rust preventatives, and field and lawn paints.
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Garden Pots and Containers
Let's face it: you just aren't going to get around to repairing the ceramic flower pot you've been tripping over when you exit the kitchen door for—oh, four years now. Give yourself a break and discard it, along with other garden containers that you no longer use or that may be cracked or broken.
Broken Garden Statues and Ornaments
Artistically placed in a well-kept garden, a broken garden statue can sometimes look charming, in an unaffected, eclectic way. However, if the angel statue with the missing head is in a yard with old paint cans and rusty yard toys strewn about, it will look like just another object in an unkempt backyard.
So, either clean up and maintain your yard, or donate the broken statue to a crafty friend, charity, or put it in the recycling bin.
Remember: if it's in decent shape, clean it and donate it. If it's cracked or broken, discard the pieces in the recyclable bin.
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That Dying Lawn
Every time you glance out the window at your backyard, you cringe when your eyes sweep past that increasingly brown, parched patch of lawn. Those visions of frolicking on a green grass carpet with your dog are all but gone, replaced by the reality of upkeep and all that time and know-how you just don't have. It's OK: replace it with a lawn alternative and free yourself from that burden of guilt.
The Drought Factor
If you live in a region affected by drought, seriously consider getting rid of that water-guzzling patch of lawn in your front or backyard—or both. You'd have to be living in a bubble not to understand how something so simple as replacing a lawn with hardscaping materials or drought-tolerant plants can greatly reduce the amount of water your household consumes. You owe it to your community and the planet. Set a good example for your neighbors—make plans now!Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Recycle: That Pile of Wood
Those pieces of wood you've been saving for some unknown outdoor project or for an impromptu bonfire have been cluttering the yard for a while now. Put on a pair of gloves to avoid getting splinters and place the wood in a recyclable bin or take it to a local recycling center.
As for the bonfire—check local laws regarding wood-burning, which may have been changed or updated recently in your area.
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Yard Clutter: Broken or Old Garden Tools and Equipment
A few years ago, the handle fell off of your garden spade. So why, exactly, have you been hanging onto it? For a 2 a.m. repair project? Get rid of broken garden tools, but be sure and put them in the recycling bin if they are metal or have wooden handles.
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Get Rid of: Old Spa or Hot Tub
You can try selling your spa on a site like Craigslist or giving it away, but don't think that interested parties will be busting down your door once the ad posts or the offer is made. Hot tubs are big and bulky. Not everyone wants a used hot tub—would you?
If you've had the spa for 10 years or so, it's stopped working or is irreparable, you might just want to have it hauled away. Consult a local business that specializes in spa demolition and removal—sometimes a crane is needed to exhume it from the backyard.
Talking About Hot Tubs
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Recycle or Compost: Plant Trimmings
Hmmm...what to do with all those plant trimmings and that garden waste? If you want to get ambitious and environmental, start a backyard compost bin—an easy way to recycle once you get started. In addition to leaves, grass, and other plant matter, you can add vegetable and fruit scraps, tea bags and leaves, coffee grounds and filters, eggshells and nut shells. The finished compost can be added to your garden to improve the soil or used as mulch.
If not, gather up all of the twigs, leaves, branches, and grass cuttings and put them in the yard waste bin.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Have you switched from a charcoal barbecue to a gas grill but still have briquettes or charcoal left over? Don't toss it in the trash; use the charcoal in the yard:
- Add a few pieces to the compost pile to increase its carbon content, which helps break down organic matter.
- Use it in a toolbox to absorb moisture.
- Crushed charcoal can suppress weed growth in the garden.
- Orchid lovers: add crushed charcoal to the soil. Many enthusiasts believe it absorbs toxins and increases soil alkalinity
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Sell or Give Away: The Swing Set or Play Set
Emily is a junior in high school and Jordan graduated from university last spring. Perhaps it's time to part ways with that large wood and metal jungle gym in your backyard? No—don't save it for the grandchildren you might someday have. Think about what you could do with the space—plant a kitchen garden or maybe install that hot tub you've always wanted.
Clean up the set, tighten screws and bolts and post it on Craigslist for a reasonable price. Or, give it to the young family down the street who just moved in and help them disassemble and move it. Take one last photo with your big kids posing on it before sending it on to its next life Take one last photo with your big kids posing on it before sending it on to its next life—making another generation of children happy.
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Recycle or Donate: Old Yard Toys
That Big Wheel, plastic castle or trampoline have seen better days and they've been relegated to that vast wasteland known as the side yard. Oh, and somehow a teddy bear and other assorted indoor toys have been lying there for what looks like a generation. Approach them this way:
- Can the toy be fixed? If yes, donate.
- If not, are the parts recyclable? Since the answer is almost always yes, put it in a recycling bin or take it to a recycling center.