Do-it-yourself projects and plans for anyone who can swing a hammer.

A Productive Garden Chore for Rainy Days

Needed supplies

I find it difficult at best to slow down and sit still during gardening season. As soon as the weather allows for me to spend time outdoors (I’m not a cold lover), I’m out playing in the soil. Whether it’s weeding, bed prep, planting, harvesting, or larger projects like creating beds or redoing established areas, I can often be found in or around my garden.

However, there are (thankfully) rainy days or (not so thankfully) extremely hot days that drive me indoors. During those times, when my indoor chores are at a lull, I take to moving forward some of the necessary preparation steps for the next year’s garden. This chore is one such move, assuming you’ve already been saving the things you need. If not, consider starting. This is a great way to repurpose some of the trash you may be creating each week.

What you’ll need:

  • Scissors (not for fabric!)
  • Steak knife (don’t use your good ones, get a cheapie at your local thrift store)
  • Cat litter jugs (empty)
  • Cardboard beverage containers (empty)
  • Toilet paper and paper towel tubes (empty)
  • Interfolded dry waxed paper (optional)

assembling gardens

How to create your mini seed-starting gardens:

Remove the outer flimsy plastic sleeve around the cat litter jug. Measure up from the bottom 4.5 inches and cut around the container to create a basin. I use a combination of steak knife and scissors to do this. The measurement doesn’t need to be exact, and you may find that you prefer yours shorter or taller than I do. I like to be able to access my toilet paper tubes easily because I normally start my corn in them. Corn is picky about having its roots disturbed — the less I jostle and jerk my tubes, the happier the corn.

Recycle the top of the jug after removing the lid — the lid itself is not recyclable though they are handy for temporarily holding seeds or other small items. You may wish to turn the jug top upside down and use it for a funnel or drill holes in the lid and use it to strain things like homemade fish fertilizer

If you haven’t already done so, cut your beverage containers in half to create 2 “pots” and remove the plastic pour spout where necessary. I usually do this right after we empty them so I can clean them before they get ripe and stinky. Using a sharp implement, poke drainage holes in the bottom of each half. I use an awl. (Note: the pour spout is not recyclable, so unless you have another use for it, you’ll have to throw it away.) You can also use other cardboard beverage containers though different shapes may pose geometric challenges. I find 4 halves tuck perfectly into one basin.


Wrap the toilet paper (or cut-to-size paper towel) tubes with interfolded dry waxed paper. I do this step because it’s surprising how quickly these breakdown and roots begin growing through them. This is not a bad thing at all when you are seeking a biodegradable pot for your seedlings. However, as I stated, I start my corn indoors and it doesn’t like its roots being disturbed too much. Other plants like tomatoes would easily start growing through each other’s neighboring tubes.

I find that by simply wrapping each tube in one interfolded piece, I get the desired barrier for my 3-week old corn. Line the folded edge up with the top of the tube and fold under the excess. As you wrap each one, place it in one of your cat litter basins. Continue until the basin is full of upright tubes.

before and after

That’s it. As you can see in the photo above, 2 hours of work filled half a shelf of my guest room “greenhouse” with readied containers for next spring. All I’ll need to do is fill them with soil, plant my seeds, label the containers and I’ll be ready to cheer on each seedling as it emerges victoriously.

Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

4 Essential Wood-Planer Maintenance Tips

 planer bed waxing

If you’ve got a thickness planer (aka a wood planer) in your home woodworking shop, then there are four things you need to do to keep it running well. If you want to maintain top-notch performance from your wood planer and solve problems that might come up with the machine, you’ve come to the right place.

Wood Planer Problem #1: Boards sticks while it’s being planed

This is a problem of lubrication, so to speak. The first thing you need to do – and it applies to all thickness planters on the market – is to regularly apply paste wax to the bed of your planer. The bed is that part of the machine that the wood slides on. If you don't keep the bed waxed, your lumber is going to stick in the machine and it won't feed through properly.

As for wax,  I use an old can of Johnson's Paste Wax. I bought it in the late '70s (yes it’s 40+ years old), and there's still plenty of wax in the can. I figure I’ll get five, maybe 10 more years out of it. Any kind of floor paste wax will do the job. Unplug the planer, raise the cutterhead to expose as much of the bed as possible, remove any sawdust from the bed, then rub a little wax on it. Apply it with a circular motion. You don't have to be fancy, just as long as you get complete coverage. Let it dry for a few minutes and then lightly buff the wax off with a clean rag. It's amazing how long this wax treatment will keep lumber sliding smoothly while you plane it. Watch this video on exactly how to apply wax to your wood planer where it’ll make a difference.

chipped planer blade

Wood Planer Problem #2: Planed wood has raised ridges

The cause of this problem is a nick in the blades, most often caused by hitting a hard knot. You can’t always avoid this problem, but you can fix it rather easily. With the machine unplugged, remove the top of your planer to gain access to the cutter head.  If your blades are still fairly sharp and leaving smooth wood behind (except for that raised ridge), there’s an easy fix. By sliding individual blades side-to-side relative to each other you’ll get rid of the ridge. If the nick in one blade doesn’t align with the nick in other blades, no ridge will appear.

If you look at the cutter head you’ll see that the bolt holes securing the blades are not round. They're oval and this allows you to slide one blade or the other from side to side slightly. The advantage is if you've got just a little bit of ridging on your planed boards and you want to get that planer planing really well for an important project, but you don't want to change blades, you just loosen off the blade anchoring screws, slide one blade a little bit to one side and then the nicks in the blades that caused the groove in the first place don't line up and you get perfectly smooth results, at least for a little while. It works.

thickness planer action 2

Wood Planer Problem #3: Surfaces produced are not as smooth as they used to be

Wood planer blades wear out in time and changing them is the solution. Most planers on the market these days use disposable blades that are sharp along both edges. Take the old blades out (wood planers use either two or three blades depending on the design), flip the blades over, then secure them again, fresh side out.

As you’ll see when you get into the machine, the blades on all wood planers are held down by a whole bunch of bolts. That's true regardless of the machine you have. But what you need to do is to start loosening off all the bolts and then remove them. Now, before you do that though, I want to show you a little trick.

If you really do have to change your blades (as opposed to simply shifting nicked-but-sharp blades to one side or another) you're going to find the job easy after you understand the basics. Blades these days have holes for registration pins. These are small round protrusions of metal that come out of the cutter head and lock the blade in just the right position up-and-down so you don't have to worry about getting blade height right. When the blade's in place, you put your metal cap strip on top, tighten all of the bolts down, go back and forth several times to make sure you've got them all tight, then you're good to go. Get a detailed tour and video on changing wood planer blades and making these machines cut as well as they were designed to.

Wood Planer Problem #4: Shavings jam up in the machine

Now, when you're changing the blades and you've got the cutter head exposed, there’s one more thing you should do. This is the fourth bit of maintenance. Applying paste wax to the inside surface of the shroud that surrounds the cutter head. This is the same stuff you applied to the bed and it greatly reduces the buildup of pitch where the dust and shavings flow out of the machine. The free flow of shavings is important. If shavings clog up during a cut, the wood planer will press them down into your lumber and create ugly indentations in the wood. Not good. Waxing the shavings passages goes a long way to prevent your planer to jamming up during heavy planing.

Take care of these three issues and you'll have smooth wood every time you walk over to your planer and turn it on. Got a question about wood planers, woodworking or any aspect of rural, hands-on living? Send me an email at I’ll do my best to help.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Creating Garden Art from the Cast-offs of Others

close-up of vignette 

A few years ago a good friend—who knows my proclivities for repurposing the cast-offs of others well—called to see if I would be interested in a cut-up utility pole they were removing from a local park. It was no surprise to him that I said, “Of course! Bring it on over!”

Very quickly I realized these pieces might be useful in building a bed to help screen off my wildlife condominium—one of my treasured features that others in the community might not be so excited to have in plain sight. I hurriedly rolled the posts into place and propped them up with bark chips and concrete blocks knowing that I’d do a more permanent job sooner or later.

I soon realized that I had a rustic old piece of picket fence rescued along with some bricks (for free from an online group) that might work well as part of the scene. I then found some old window shutters to add from my father-in-law’s house. These shutters were original to the house—built in the early 1950s—that hadn’t been in use for years. I thought they would come in handy for backing the post pieces that weren’t quite tall enough for my screening purposes.

I set all these things in place and slowly built up a nice mound of arborist chips in front of them. I used bits and pieces that I didn’t want to use in the rest of my garden because of size—pieces that would take longer to break down since I wasn’t planning to plant right away.

Since I spend long hours keeping the beds I already have planted in shape, I didn’t want to pause to make this backdrop permanent. This delay also allowed me to live with the bed while deciding if it was my final choice. The muffler was added one day when I noticed it at the end of our driveway. I loved how the rusted circle mirrored the knots on the post pieces. For me it was a natural fit.

Aside from the screening for the wildlife habitat, I am also able to use this vignette to shield the trash bags (from the public) that I accrue during my weekly weeding. Our Village has regulations in place that forbid our refuse from being put out more than 24 hours in advance of pick-up so I can’t simply stash them at the curb.

behind the scenes

I should point out here that the additions of both the muffler and the shutters—due to their age— may contain lead or other undesirables that could leach into the soil. For this reason, I will not be planting edibles in this area. You should keep this in mind if using older items in your vignette.

A couple of years ago, I added three coral bells plants (heuchera) that I scored at a local half-price sale. I put them in place with a promise that I’d make sure nothing blew over to squish them. Thankfully, I was able to follow through and they not only remained safe but also thrived in this new bed. This spring, because of a growing number of stronger winds, I decided to make the backdrop permanent. I also knew that it would save me from the occasional chore of repositioning all the pieces.

I bought some pipe strapping and gathered the rest of the supplies from my garage and basement stashes. Using wood cast off from a neighbor, I screwed the shutters together. I moved the t-bar posts and had my husband help me put the shutter group in place. I used strapping around the t-bars to hold the shutters upright then attached strapping to the shutters and around the post pieces to keep them sturdy. I loosely attached the fence post because it’s likely to wither on the sooner side and I want to be able to easily remove it.

This will be handy because I planted a viburnum dentatum, recently purchased from the Cincinnati Zoo Native Plant Sale, at that end of the bed. I figure it will grow well and eventually need the space to spread while it fills out that area. I also added some coreopsis behind the heuchera to help the eye flow upward as well as a couple of bleeding hearts (dicentra formosa) and false spirea (astilbe) to widen the group toward the viburnum.

When showing off the finalized version of my hard work to my husband, he asked what was going to go in the empty space between. I explained that the viburnum would need that space so I was planning on leaving it vacant. Since I’m calling this the Steve and Shirley Vignette (because my husband and our backdoor neighbor both like neat and pretty gardens) I might want to add something else. While I wait for the viburnum to grow, I can add interest with annuals if I want to.

before and after

Are there ways you can repurpose others’ cast-offs in your garden? How can you help delay stuff going to the dump?

Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blytheand read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Soap Making Lingo Every New Soap Maker Needs to Know

Itch Off 

New to soaping? Confused by all the terms and Acronyms? The terminology in soap making can leave any newbie scratching their head. As hard as soap making is to learn the terms and abbreviations can make it even more confusing. Let’s see if I can help you navigate the soap world in hopes of making life a little easier.


The alkali used in soap making such as; Sodium Hydroxide and Potassium Hydroxide.

Carrier Oil

Any liquid plant-based oil used to dilute essential oils to make them skin safe.

Castile Soap

Soap consisting of 100% Olive Oil, the name comes from where it was first made in the Castile region of Spain.

Cold Process (CP)

A simple method of soap making that only requires heat to melt the oils. No cooking is involved.

Crock Pot Hot Process (CPHP)

This soap is brought to trace and then further cooked in a crockpot.

Cold Process Oven Process (CPOP)

This soap is made in the same manner as a cold process but is then placed in the oven once molded to force the gel stage.


Refers to the time between making the soap and when it is ready for use, typically 4 to 6 weeks. During this time the soap becomes firm and the saponification process is completed.

Essential Oil (EO)

The oil that has been extracted from a plant for its scent or therapeutic properties.

Flash Point

The lowest temperature at which the vapor of a combustible liquid can be made to ignite.

Fragrance Oil (FO)

Synthetic imitations of essential oils and other scents much like perfume.

Gel Stage

Once the soap has been mixed to trace and poured into the mold it will begin to heat up by the chemical reaction. If the soap is properly wrapped and allowed to heat up enough, it will undergo a change looking much like gel. Some like their soaps to gel but others prefer soap that has not.


A thick, sticky, clear substance created during the process of saponification. Handmade cold process and hot process soaps retain the glycerin whereas commercial soaps often remove it to later sell for a separate cost.

Hot Process (HP)

The method of soap making that requires external heat to speed up the process of saponification.


Another name for Sodium Hydroxide.

Melt & Pour Base (MP)

Pre-made soap that can easily be cut up and melted to create decorative soaps. Contains lye like all soaps do and are available with various ingredients. Beginners tend to gravitate to MP due to the fear of working with lye.

Oatmeal Milk & Honey

Melting Point

The temperature at which a solid substance often oils and butters will melt.

Oven Hot Process (OHP)

Hot process soap making that uses the oven as the sole heat source.

Potassium Hydroxide

Potassium Hydroxide is another name for Caustic Potash. It is the alkali (base) used in liquid soap making.


A preservative is a natural or synthetic chemical that is added to products to prevent decomposition by microbial growth like mold.


Also referred to as hand milling. A home soap maker can hand mill (re-batch) soap by grating it up, adding a small amount of liquid and reapplying heat until it reaches a translucent stage at which time the fragrance is added and the soap is remolded.

Refined Oils

Fats and oils that have had the impurities filtered out.


Ricing occurs when a fragrance oil reacts with your base oils and produces little rice-shaped grains in your soap batter. The soap batter will resemble rice pudding. When using a new fragrance, do not discount the water in your recipe and warm the fragrance oil (while still in its bottle) in a warm water bath before using it.

Room Temperature Method (RTCP)

A soap making method like the cold process method. Instead of using heat to melt hard oils, the hot lye solution is used instead. No thermometers or external heat source is required.


Saponification is the chemical reaction between an alkali (lye) and a fat or oil to form soap.


A rapid solidifying of the soap while still in the soap pan. Usually caused by high amounts of stearic acid, palmitic acid, waxes, or some fragrance & essential oils.


Separation in soap making can happen in a couple of ways. Often right after adding a fragrance or essential oil to your soap batter. The reaction will resemble an apple sauce texture. It can also happen after pouring the soap into a mold before it has reached a true trace. A layer of liquid oil will lay on top of the soap.


Liquid Soap


The result of a chemical reaction between a lye solution (sodium hydroxide for bar soap or potassium hydroxide for liquid soap) and fats/oils. If it is not made with lye, it is not “true soap” instead will be classified as a detergent.

Sodium Hydroxide

Sodium Hydroxide (lye) is another name for Caustic Soda. It is the alkali (base) used in bar soap making.


Capable of being dissolved or liquified.


The excess oils left after the saponification process in soap. The excess oil contributes to the moisturizing properties of the soap.


The point in soap making where the mixed lye and oils have combined to a thick pudding like substance. When “true trace” is acquired a trail can be left when the batter is drizzled onto itself.

What else can make soaping easier? Research, research, and more research. Don't be hard on yourself if failures happen along the way, it happens to even the best soap makers from time to time. Start out with an easy recipe and then add or change ingredients as desired. Be careful! Where a mask, glasses, gloves, and other protective clothing when working with lye.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Website, and Twitter. Grit Magazine, Mother Earth News Magazine, Community Chickens Blog, Homestead Hustle Blog, Chickens Magazine, Hobby Farms Magazine, and The New Pioneer Magazine Miller Micro Farm Website.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Look What the Cat Dragged In: Homemade Fish Fertilizer Recipe

Fish in the grass

I honestly don’t have a clue how this dead fish found its way into my yard. We have had a lot of rain recently but not that much! I discovered it at the lower border of the orchard bed as the photo shows — half in the lawn, half in the ground cover.

Perhaps a cat picked it from someone’s trash. Or a raccoon dragged it from the creek half a mile away then got spooked by a passing car. Maybe a neighbor wanted to make a not-so-subtle comment about the time it’s taking me to weed my bank. Isn’t there some biblical story about fish raining from the sky — maybe I’m getting my Bible stories conflated.

No matter how it got there or why, I’ve already thanked the Universe for this gift — however delayed it may be. A few years ago I purchased some live sweetgrass (native to Ohio) to grow for personal and ritual use. Upon its arrival, one of the requirements for boosting the starts was a fish fertilizer bath.

My first leaning was to see if I couldn’t economically make some from scratch. I looked up recipes on the internet and found a few calling for fish heads and scraps. Since I don’t fish (other than for salmon with my dad, now passed), I checked with a couple of local seafood counters. No one had any extras to sell me so I opted for Alaskan Fish Fertilizer since it was a name I recognized from my years in the Pacific Northwest.

My initial reaction to this new find in my garden was frankly “WTH?!” But, because of that search a few years ago, that reaction was followed immediately by a decision to create some of my previously imagined home-brewed fish fertilizer. I Googled once again and found new recipes. Most called for more than one fish but I’m a McGyver-style, make-with-what-you-have-on-hand kinda gal so I simply pared back on the recipes. I even learned that Native Americans used to bury a fish before planting corn seed — smart people, maybe in my future!

Fish in a bucket

Anyway, step one was to fetch one of my handy used cat litter buckets. I then placed a lovely bed of sawdusty composted arborist chips in the bottom, added the fish, graced it with some blackstrap molasses, and topped it off with water.

I saw several recipes that included seaweed and something nudged a memory of my having bought some on a whim while at one of my favorite stores, Jungle Jim’s (in Cincinnati). I didn’t want to divert from other garden chores just then, so put that addition off. Three days later, I found the seaweed and braved opening the bucket to find a lovely fermentation bubbling up with no maggots — something that could have easily happened as flies had time to help the decay along before my discovery, I’m sure. I added my seaweed and closed the bucket back up and swirled.

One of the benefits of using my cat litter bucket is that it’s not airtight so it will automatically burp out the gases from fermentation. This bucket is safely tucked away in my garage, aka gardening shed, so the smell shouldn’t be bothering anyone. I’ll be giving it a good sloshing stir by simply lifting it by the handle and swishing it around a bit every few days until the brew is ready to use in a few weeks. I’m guessing many of my plant babies will celebrate this new find as much as I am once they get their first drink.

Fermenting fish

Don’t forget to label the bucket so no one (including yourself) is surprised by the lovely, overpowering smell if the bucket is opened without forewarning! My brew should be plenty aromatic when I open it up again for use but that will be tempered by my giddy anticipation. I have plenty of weeding to do for distraction until it’s time to see what I have wrought.

Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Getting the Job Done: Hiring an Amish Contractor

Mid-work on a roof replacement job by a hired Amish crew. 

We had put it off long enough. After living in our 1901 farmhouse for eight years, and dealing with numerous leaks and water damage to several areas of plaster, we could no longer do any further interior remodeling until Matt and I shelled out some serious coin to replace our metal roof. Our house was mutilated by the remodeling efforts of owners in the 1960s and ‘70s, so it has been a time-consuming and expensive ordeal to reintroduce the Victorian charm that was removed 40 years ago.

Now, we knew that because of the high winds and open fields of northern Morrow County, Ohio, we didn’t want to waste our money on shingles, which are more likely to be damaged or blown off during severe storms. We felt like metal was our only option, which meant spending almost double our budget to get the job done.

And we knew that we wanted to hire a local Amish contractor to handle the project. The MoCo Amish community has a reputation for quality work, fair prices, and trustworthiness, but we didn’t know if any of our neighbors had had someone like this work on their homes.

Get Word-of-Mouth Recommendations

True, there are advertisements in the local papers, especially The Compass, for local construction companies, usually only listing a name and a phone number, but we were searching for personal recommendations. It took a chance comment to our feed supplier, David, who runs a self-serve feed shop in the heart of MoCo’s Amish country, to connect us with a contractor who was willing to take on a job like ours: his son, Paul.  

David gave Matt the phone number of Paul’s driver, John. This was how we were told to set up an appointment to get a quote for our roof and a few other tasks we wanted done, like wrapping a few windows and replacing the porch ceiling, a bit of siding and gutters. All communication was through John’s phone, either by direct calls or voicemails, until we actually met in person.

Communicate Your Project Requests to Ensure Clarity

Our initial meeting with Paul was no nonsense. When dealing with the Amish, a lot of us need to realize that they aren’t much for chit-chat until they get to know you. Paul wanted to see the roof, take a lot of measurements, and discuss exactly what we wanted. He took a lot of notes and said that he’d call with prices of each of the projects. The whole ordeal lasted about 20 minutes, and he hopped in John’s truck and was gone. If you are wishy-washy on what you want for your home project, it’s best to wait until you know exactly what you want. Paul didn’t have time to to discuss possibilities. He wanted to have a set idea of what we wanted so he could give us an accurate quote. In the long run, because of this, we did not experience any additional surprise costs.

In a couple of days, Paul called Matt with the quotes, and we agreed to proceed with the job. But, Paul said, it would be four or five months before he could get started, explaining that he was so busy during the summer that October was the earliest he could fit us into his schedule. That was a disappointment, but we took it as a sign that Paul and his crew did good work if they were that busy.

Worth the Wait

Fast-forward to the end of September, and we got a call that Paul was able to start our roofing job and to expect his crew to be there the following week. When driver John pulled in, Paul and two other guys jumped out and got to work. There wasn’t much discussion, other than a few instructions in Pennsylvania Dutch. In fact, John unhitched the tool trailer, and left.

And boy did they work! I think they took a 20-minute lunch break, and that’s it. I did talk to Paul a little bit, as he showed me what he thought were the original roof shingled that were underneath the old metal. Man, what a fire hazard! The guys on his crew were older teens, apprenticing the construction trade. He said that to them (the Amish), learning a trade is more valuable to going to college. And they’re learning how to do their jobs with hand tools and gas-powered chainsaws and drills.

Once the roof was done, Paul left two of his crew (one being his younger brother, Harley) to replace the porch ceiling. I kept hearing whistling from one of the boys, but I couldn’t figure out what song it was. Finally it donned on me: Harley was whistling “Islands in the Stream,” by Kenny Rogers. Of all the songs, I had to laugh about that, and it’s a small detail I’ll forever remember of our first experience hiring an Amish crew.

Long story short (too late), we found that getting a personal recommendation, being clear about project details, and having patience were key to hiring an Amish contractor for our roof replacement. We had such a good experience and were pleased with the quality of his work that we talked to Paul a little bit about putting on an addition to the back of the house so the kids can have their own rooms. Hopefully we can get penciled in his busy schedule in the next year.

Corinne Gompf is a writer and hobby farmer in Morrow County, Ohio. She is a graduate from the University of Toledo, with a BA in English, creative writing concentration. Along with her husband, Matt, and two children, Fletcher and Emery, Corinne raises poultry, Boer goats, rabbits, and chemical-free produce. Connect with Corinne on her Heritage Harvest Farm Facebook page.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

6 Equipment Rentals That Will Speed up Your Spring Yard Prep

Photo from Pexels

Now that spring has officially sprung, it's time to get started on all the yard work that's piled up through the winter months.

Depending on what type of lawn you have, you may be looking at a good bit of labor in your near future. One of the problems with a large space, especially in a more rural area, is having the equipment on hand to get everything done.

Thankfully, you don't have to drop a few thousand dollars on equipment you plan to use once or twice a year. You can simply rent whatever it is you need at a fraction of the cost. Renting can be a big game changer, especially since it expands what you can get done.

Here are just a few useful pieces of equipment to consider using this spring:

Posthole Diggers

Digging out postholes can be backbreaking work, whether you're trying to get the job down with a shovel or with an old-fashioned wood and metal posthole digger. Powered posthole diggers are an option to consider. They make the work much easier and faster, especially if you plan to put up a large fenced-in area.

Trailer-mounted posthole diggers are easy to use and don't require extra people to operate. All that's needed is extra muscle to move them around, and you're good to go. In fact, the moving takes longer that drilling the actual holes. A powered posthole digger can be expected to run about $50 for two hours and can drill about eight holes an hour.

Stump Grinders

Getting rid of stumps is a difficult process. The old way of burning and digging them out is complicated, but stump grinders often cost a lot. It might be cheaper to hire a professional service to get rid of the stumps for you, but this is still an expensive option.

The best financial option by far is to rent the equipment and do the job yourself. Just be sure to remove any rocks visible around the stump before starting the process. Prices usually range from $35 to $80 for two hours, but that's more than enough time in most situations to get the job done.

Brush Chippers

Clearing out brush is yet another tedious process that comes with having a large yard. Cutting it all down and burning everything isn't exactly the best option for most people, so a brush chipper might be a wise investment. Depending on the lawn and what you want to do with it, you can easily rent a brush chipper for your project.


If you're thinking about making a garden, you'll need a tiller. Depending on what kind of work you want to do, size and horsepower matter. A simple garden won't need much, maybe a 1.5-horsepower model, but a large one is a different story.

If you want something very large, you'll need to get a tiller that can do the job right the entire time you're working. They can be rented at 13 horsepower, able and ready to till areas larger than 1,500 square feet. If you had a lot of work to do, this is the best bet.

Sod Cutters

If you're looking for something that won't chop into the ground but just take up the grass on top, you'll need a sod cutter.

These can be used to plant new grass or make room for a different project. Whatever your reason, sod cutters are available to rent in all sorts of styles and designs. It all depends on the cutting depth you want and the area of land you're planning to cut into.


A chainsaw is likely something you'll find yourself buying eventually depending on the type of yard you have. They have a lot of uses, especially during natural disasters. Still, they are available to rent if the need for them doesn't arise very often. For about $65 a day, you can use a chainsaw for whatever project you have at the moment.

Renting Options

Most hardware stores offer power tools and yard equipment rentals, but their prices might be difficult to work with. If shopping around doesn't work, there are apps for you to rent or lend tools and equipment directly with other people. Toolsity allows you to rent from nearby residents.

Get to Work

Once you have all the equipment you need, there are no more excuses to put off the job at hand. It makes things much easier than the older, backbreaking ways. Keeping technology on hand makes the work fly by, allowing you to get more done.

Whatever you were putting off for next year might actually have a chance this season. Just remember to work smarter, not harder.

Kayla Matthews writes and blogs about healthy living, sustainable consumption, eco-friendly practices and green energy. In the past, her work has also been featured on Grit, Mother Earth Living, Blue And Green Tomorrow, Dwell and Houzz. To read more from Kayla, follow her productivity and lifestyle blog, Productivity Theory.

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