It’s the worst-case scenario: You’re in the middle of a huge lawn maintenance project when suddenly your equipment breaks down. Maybe you underestimated what you were going to be taking on and now you’re feeling overwhelmed and ill-equipped for the job at hand. With a little creativity, many tasks around the yard can be performed using your vehicle rather than heavy machinery.
Here are five unconventional, but incredibly handy, ways to use your vehicle in the yard:
1. Stump Puller
While you probably don’t want to tie a rope around a tree and attach it to the tow hitch on the back of your four-cylinder sedan, a pickup truck or even a winch installed on the front of an off-roader makes a great tool for pulling up old stumps. Pull any clumps of dirt away from the stump and cut the large roots with a chainsaw before you try to pull it out, otherwise you run the risk of applying too much tension to your tow hitch, which can damage your mount or frame. Do NOT use the hitch ball, use a tow hook inserted into the receiver hitch and a recovery strap with a floor mat hung half way between in case of a break (to prevent backlash). Take the slack out of the strap slowly, then apply throttle smoothly (but not more than half throttle) until the stump loosens. Do not get a running start or else you may end up with a stump through your back window or worse! The idea is to pull the stump out slowly in a controlled manner.
2. The Ultimate Wheelbarrow
Even if you don’t have a pickup truck, you can use your vehicle to haul stuff around your yard — especially if it’s a hatchback. With plenty of cargo space and a broad flat surface, the trunk of your car is perfectly suited for this type of work. Lay down a plastic tarp to protect the interior from scratches and dirt. You’ll have the only 100-plus horsepower wheelbarrow in town.
3. Making the Grade
Whether you’re laying down new topsoil or trying to even out the garden before you plant, getting the ground level is key. Tie a pallet to the back of your car with a rope, pile it with bricks, rocks or anything heavy that won’t fall off and use it as a makeshift landscape rake to even out the surface of large areas.
4. Pack It Down
If nothing else, cars and trucks are heavy, and for that reason they’re great at packing down large surfaces. If you’re building a patio or laying down fresh stone crush on the driveway and don’t have a tamper, drive your vehicle over the area until it’s packed down. If it’s important to keep the surface smooth, lay down some sheets of plywood to distribute the weight more evenly as you drive over them.
5. Leaf It to the Experts
You can also use your car to clean up autumn leaves. If you have a big yard, you know that the hardest part about raking leaves is dragging them to the woods to dump them. Tie a rope to the back of your car, feed it through the grommets on your leaf tarp and use your car to drag piles of leaves to the woods and save yourself the strain.
Your vehicle is great for getting the kids to soccer practice and going on vacation, but it can also provide a lot of utility that you may not consider. If you find yourself in a yardwork jam or just don’t have the right tool for the job, a little ingenuity can go a long way.
Check out all the lawn & garden products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on lawn maintenance, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Image courtesy of Flickr
Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.