22 Common Household Items Turned Into Useful Yard Tools

Updated: Feb. 19, 2024

Bet you’ve never thought to use a cereal box for lawn mower maintenance. Learn about this and other ways to repurpose common household items outside.

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Trash Can Twig Storage

Before I mow, I usually go around and pick up fallen twigs and other debris. Inevitably, I miss some and have to stop and pick it up. To solve the problem, I attached a wastebasket to my mower. Now when wrappers, cans and sticks suddenly appear, I can stuff them into my basket and keep moving. — Jared Reiners. Check out 23 more useful yard tool hacks.

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oil fill

No-Spill Oil Fill

Oiling chain saws and other small gas-powered tools can be downright messy. Pour some oil into a clean squirt- top water bottle. The squirt top makes it easier to control the flow of oil, so it doesn’t spill all over the tool and work area. Make sure to label the bottle so nobody drinks from it. — Donna Meigs. Plus: Top 10 Chain Saw Tips.

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grocery bag shoe covers

Grocery Bag Shoe Covers

When I’m working outside and have messy work shoes, I will step into plastic grocery bags and tie the handle loops around my ankles to hold them on. This keeps me from dragging in mud and such when I need to come inside for just a minute or two. It also keeps me out of trouble with my wife! — Lance Wiist

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Safe cord storage bungee cord
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3 Ring Bungee Holder

To store elastic cords safely and neatly, pull out the spine of an old three-ring binder. Punch out the rivets and screw the spine to the garage wall. The rings are the perfect spot to hang cords without dangerous tension.— Tim Groff. Find out other helpful organization ideas here.

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Handy bench and tool bucket 5 gallon bucket
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Bucket Gardening Bench

A 5-gallon bucket comes in handy out in the garden­ and not just for collecting weeds. You can load it up with all your gardening tools and carry them easily from place to place. If it starts to rain, protect the tools with the lid. But here’s the best part—the bucket doubles as a portable stool when you need to rest or do some pruning. The only problem is that the lid can be hard to pry off. Solve that by cutting off all but two of the plastic tabs. The lid will go on and off in a snap. For more clever gardening shortcuts, check out this collection of tips. — Julie Abbott

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Tarp Trailer
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Tarp Trailer

With a big, cheap plastic tarp you can drag leaves, branches or mulch around your yard. Plus: 11 Exceptional Wheelbarrows that Do Everything.
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Quick Handle Cover

My mower is now a pleasure to use thanks to the pipe insulation taped to the handle. I used to get numb hands and blisters (we have a big yard!) from the bare metal handle. Make sure the insulation doesn’t interfere with your auto-shutoff bar, if you have one. — Joe Eisenbraun.

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Oil Change Trough

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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Leaf Hamper

Leaf bags have an irritating tendency to close and collapse, making them difficult to fill. Cut out the bottom of a laundry hamper and insert the hamper into the leaf bag. Fill the bag with leaves or grass clippings and pull out the hamper when it’s full. — Norm Bromley. 15 Super-Useful Tools for Dealing with Leaves

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seedlings growing in plastic clamshell container from salad bar

Salad Bar Greenhouse

The next time you hit up a salad bar for lunch, save the plastic clamshell container. It can be reused as a mini greenhouse for starting seeds in the spring.

When you’re finished with your lunch, wash the container thoroughly. Use an awl and hammer to punch a few small holes in the top part of the container for airflow. Then fill the bottom half with potting mix or your own special seed-starting soil. Plant your seeds, spreading them out in the container as suggested on the seed packet. Give the seeds a small drink of water and close the lid. Place the container in a sunny spot, and patiently wait for your seeds to sprout!

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Painting Tool Drying Cage

An inverted tomato cage makes a great drying rack for rollers, brushes, pads, rags and whatever is wet after painting cleanup. The stuff dries quickly outdoors, and there’s room for everything! — Tom Anderson. Plus: The best-kept secrets of professional painters.

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Recycle Water

If you have a dehumidifier, you have a free supply of water that’s perfect for houseplants. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air and create “condensate” that’s free from chemicals and minerals found in tap water. Just don’t drink it—it could contain microbes and trace amounts of metals that are harmful to humans. — J.A. Kemble.

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Hose Garbage Bag Holder

Keep your garbage bag in place with sections of old garden hose. Cut four 9-in. long pieces of hose, slit them length-wise and place them over the garbage can rim. — Dan Eggert.

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Tennis Racket Duster

Upholstery absorbs lots of dust?and then sends it airborne every time you sit down. Routine vacuuming reduces the problem, but can’t suck out the deep-down dust. So take cushions outside a couple times each year, preferably on a windy day, and spank the dust out of them. An old tennis racket makes a great upholstery beater (and improves your swing).

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Better bucket storage
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Better Bucket Storage

Stacked 5-gallon buckets fit together so tightly that it’s almost impossible to pull them apart. Prevent the problem by placing a large plastic pop bottle (with top on) or milk jug between each pair of buckets. You can still nest the buckets together, but they won’t stick together anymore.

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filling grass seed broadcaster

Berry Containers for Seeding the Lawn

When it’s time to clean out the refrigerator, be sure to save those plastic berry containers. You can toss the mushy raspberries, but wash and dry the container—it’s perfect for spreading grass seed on your lawn!

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placing water bottle in tin can holder

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!

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trash can amplifier handy hint

Instant Outdoor Amplifier

Use a small trash can to not only protect your speaker from rain and other outdoor elements, but also to amplify your tunes!

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Easy-on-the-hands bucket handles
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More Comfortable Bucket Handles

If you have old buckets with broken plastic handles, retrofit the buckets with new handles made from an old garden hose. Cut short lengths of hose, slit each one with a utility knife and slide them over the handles. If you can remove one side of the wire handle, you can just slide the hose grip on without slitting it. The handles work great and keep those buckets on the job!

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Clothespin Hamper

Our old cloth clothespin hamper finally fell apart. I noticed that an empty plastic plant hanger basket could be a great replacement. It just needed a thorough cleaning and a couple of extra 1/4-in. drainage holes drilled into the bottom. The plastic hook slides easily along the line, and the basket has more than enough room for our clothespins. — Ruth Kallen. Plus: The best ways to dry clothes without a dryer.

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Soft Saw Blade Guard

Protect a chain saw blade with 3/4-in. foam pipe insulation. Wrap the insulation around the blade and strap it tight with a couple of rubber bands.

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Custom cord wraps bungee cords
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Cork Cord Wraps

Make your own cord wraps using old bungee cords and synthetic wine corks. Drill two holes in the cork, thread cord through the holes and tie off the ends. You can make them as long or as short as you want. They’re lightweight and work great for securing air hoses and other things, too. Save some space with a wine rack that goes underneath cabinets.