Untangling the hose. Searching for the spade. Stepping on a rusty rake and getting whacked in the face like you’re in a cartoon — again. It’s not that you expect yard work to be as easy as sipping a cold hefeweizen on the patio (it is yard work, right?), but does it have to be a drag before you even get to the work part?
#1 Put Your Hose in a Bucket
If you haven’t invested in a wall-hung wind-up reel, an inexpensive, galvanized bucket is a great option to corral your hose — especially if the alternative is a muddy, rubber rat’s nest behind the bushes. Be sure to cut drainage holes in the bottom of the bucket to avoid creating a mosquito haven.
“This would also make for easy winter storage,” says Sara Pedersen, a professional organizer from the Twin Cities. Just pick up the bucket, and put it in the garage.
#2 Use a Pallet in That Awkward Garage Space
A slim pallet can make clever use of what is typically unused space between the wall and garage door frame. Snag a pallet — after asking for permission! — from a building site or behind a grocery store.
You can even attach it to the wall with hooks, as this homeowner did, so she could lift the whole thing off the wall to clean behind it.
#3 Go Vertical With Shelves
“Any time you can get items off the floor and onto the wall is a good thing,” Pedersen says. People tend to forget to go vertical. Now you’ve got room underneath for a small work table or storage bins.
Simple shelving systems come in many price points. You can add or subtract shelves to fit your space. “It’s also really helpful,” Pedersen says, to “set up zones for different types of items, gardening, sport, car maintenance, etc.”
#4 Use S-Hooks on Easy-to-Install Bars
Hang a couple of inexpensive Ikea storage bars, designed for kitchens and baths. Simple S-hooks allow for lots of small tools to hang. If you need more storage, just add more bars.
#5 Hang an Old Box Spring
The best outdoor organization tool might already be in your attic gathering cobwebs. A bed spring “potentially has room for every small tool,” Pedersen says. “It’s a great use of vertical space.”
If you don’t want a rusted look, spray the springs with Rustoleum paint. You may also want to situate it under a protective overhang or use it for element-proof tools only.
#6 Convert an Unused Filing Cabinet
Who has paper files anymore? Scan and shred those documents, and give your old filing cabinet a more exciting second career. Turn the cabinet on its side and install sturdy casters. Pegboards on each end offer additional space for smaller items.
“My clients would love this; it’s easily accessible, and you can just shove in tools without worrying where they have to be placed,” says Lisa Mark, a professional organizer in Los Altos, Calif.
#7 Customize Your Own Tool Cart
Like the file cabinet cart, this idea also recycles old stuff: Here it’s two doors, unused sewer pipe, salvaged closet rods, and a pegboard. Unlike the filing cabinet, you can determine where the separations go — customizing the width of each storage section — and design the pegboard area to really fit your needs.
#8 Turn an Eyesore Into Storage
Cut off the back of a $20-yard sale armoire for a perfect way to hide that jumbled group of utility meters — and providing a place to store your yard stuff.
This one is attached to the wall with L-brackets and concrete anchors. A concrete and stone base keeps it safe from standing water, and a coat of marine varnish keeps it dry.
#9 Don’t Forget the Kiddos!
Kids love digging in the dirt. These planters-turned-storage bins keep kids’ “tools” handy and allow dirt and water to fall right off. Stick with plastic items to avoid rust issues and “just make sure the holder is low enough so kids can easily grab what they want,” Mark says. And more easily put them away, of course (if you’re so lucky).
#10 Build Fold-Out Storage in a Tight Corner
This storage cupboard fits snugly into what otherwise would be unused corner next to a patio door. And the smart engineering makes it deceptively roomy inside. “A simple unfold reveals whatever tool you’re looking for,” Mark says.
When you’ve got what you need, the accordion-like hinged portion on the left side folds back up to cover the cubbies. Tools are protected from the elements, and you’re protected from having to go on a scavenger hunt to find your shrub rake.
#11 Dream Big With a Shed
If you’ve got the budget, a shed is the ultimate fun solution. And think about a wide doorway — for moving a wheelbarrow, ladders, mowers, etc. in or out — but note that “a really big swinging door [is difficult to open and] can be a barrier to use,” Mark says. Opt for an easy-open sliding barn door.