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How to Clean Up Your Own Back Yard

Cleaning up your backyard can be a time-consuming and frustrating job even for the most patient homeowners, especially if previous owners neglected it for years. Being familiar with yard-cleaning strategies can help you tackle your job with confidence—and you might even experience a bit of satisfaction during the process. Your backyard should be a haven where you can rest and relax, and knowing how to clean up your own property allows you to take an active step toward creating that haven.

Prepare yourself physically and mentally. Have nutritious snacks and a water bottle full of ice-cold water or an energy drink available. Have a general cleaning plan in place. Pace yourself, and don’t try to get too much done at one time, especially if your backyard cleaning is long overdue.

Dress appropriately. If you’re cleaning up your backyard in the summer, wear lightweight, breathable materials such as cotton that will protect your skin from the sun but also allow fresh air to get to your body. If you’re doing winter yard work, dress in layers; as you work and your body heats up, you can remove layers of clothing if you get too warm.

Concentrate on the large yard waste first. Remove large pieces of waste and debris, such as tree branches and rocks. If you need to remove big boulders, use a garden tractor with a loader or consider having friends help, especially if you’ve had back problems in the past. Consider reusing rocks and stones to create a decorative border for landscaping. Collect the waste into two piles—a compost pile and a garbage pile. Bag the garbage pile into trash bags and put them in a secure location until your scheduled trash pickup day.

Trim overgrown trees and shrubs. Use tree shears to cut off smaller overhanging branches; if you have large branches to trim, use a chainsaw. Shape overgrown hedges with shears or electric hedge clippers, which are handy if you have a large hedge.

Collect smaller yard waste. Use a leaf blower to gather dead leaves into a pile; rake the leaf pile to your compost pile. Rake the tree, shrub and hedge clippings into your compost pile, as well.

Mow your lawn. Trim around the bases of your trees and shrubs with a weed eater. The University of Wisconsin Extension suggests that you collect and use these grass clippings for mulch on your vegetable or flower gardens. If you don’t have a vegetable garden, add your grass clippings to your compost pile so you don’t have to dispose of them.

Prepare a compost pile. Break or cut large pieces of organic waste such as sticks into smaller pieces. Add several shovelfuls of topsoil to your compost pile, mix the materials thoroughly and hose the pile down with water until it is about as moist as a wrung-out sponge. Keep your backyard clean by adding organic yard waste to your compost pile once weekly. Use the finished compost to enrich the soil in your flower beds and potted plants.

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