Life happens, and so do messes. We spend way too much time cleaning up, and after doing the dishes and picking up around the living room, who wants to go out and tidy the yard?
Here are a few simple and effective tips for keeping your outdoor space clean so you don’t have to sacrifice your weekend into yard work and pickup duty.
Keep a Shed
As any small child will tell you, the fastest way to clean up a mess is to shove that mess somewhere else. While a kid may use their bedroom closet to hide their junk, a garden shed hides the goodies well-meaning homeowners leave scattered across the yard. This includes tools, bags of dirt, extra seeds, disfavored garden gnomes, and strange things you don’t remember leaving in the backyard in the first place.
Adding a few hooks to the wall helps keep tools clean and easy to reach, even if the rest of the shed gets messy. To cut down on the rest of the chaos, add a couple of cheap shelves to hold smaller tools, gloves, seeds, etc. It’s very simple but highly effective.
Add a Toy Chest
If your family spends a lot of time outdoors, then adults and children alike probably have toys and games they only use in the yard. This could be giant checkers, pails and buckets, bubbles, or gear for firepit cookouts. When it’s time to clean up, these things often gather in a pile somewhere, but they never get put away, because they don’t belong inside, and there’s nowhere to stash them outside.
A toy chest or trunk keeps these items safe, dry, and out of sight. It’s hard to clean up if all the stuff has nowhere to go, and a storage bin of some kind gives your favorite toasting fork and bubble gun a place to live. Since a chest keeps things out of the weather, it also preserves your favorite toys and extends the life of your tools.
Use Your Space
If you don’t use something, you don’t care about it. Good intentions don’t last, but practical necessity drives good habits. If you use your yard, you won’t just want to keep it clean; you’ll need to keep it clean.
Figure out what you want to do in your yard. Do you want to host parties with lots of people and multiple entertainment options? Maybe you want your yard to pull its weight with a productive vegetable garden. Do your kids want to spend more time outside?
Take your dreams, look for some inspiration, and get to work making your space useful. If you want a pretty space with lots of flowers or a practical kitchen garden, clear some grass and improve your soil. Try something simple and organic, like worm castings as the benefits are significant.
This includes everything from improved moisture retention and disease resistance to higher production yields. Once you’ve given your plants the best soil possible, it’s time to head to a nursery. Consider some local species to improve your space, regardless of whether you’re raising vegetables or decorative flowers.
If you want to entertain, draw a map of your yard and figure out what you want to add or improve. Whatever you want to use your space for, take the first step towards necessary improvements today, because that’s also the first step towards cleanliness.
Consider Different Plants
Some plants make bigger messes than others. If you don’t like raking in the autumn, you definitely don’t want a female ginkgo tree that drops smell fruits before its leaves. Flowering trees drop petals in the sprint, fruits in the early summer, and then leaves in the fall.
They look lovely, of course, but if you struggle to keep your yard clean, it may be time to rethink the plants you keep. This includes smaller plants, like bushes and the little plants in your flowerbed.
Annuals brighten your space for one or two seasons, and then they rot. They make more mess than perennials, and they require much more work. Planting perennial flowers and shrubs in your garden next spring will save cleanup time for years to come.
Sometimes, the easiest way to keep things tidy is to cheat. Take a page from the cottage garden. Plant lots of wildflowers, utilize hardy perennials and rig the game in your favor. A garden designed to look a bit chaotic grows into its aesthetic with a lot less nit-picking and a little mess is just part of the look.
Ultimately, these tips all have something in common: plan ahead. A little advance work, like adding an outdoor toy chest or buying mess-free plants, saves time down the road. Easy maintenance comes from good design, so take a minute to plan ahead and save yourself a lot of work tomorrow.