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Fall clean-up provides gardening freebies

Old grass clippings make great mulch, fertilizer or compost filler.
Old grass clippings make great mulch, fertilizer or compost filler.
Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

What's the best thing about fall for gardeners? It's all the gardening freebies you can get. If you pay yearly for things like pots and mulch, you're missing out. Why buy what you can get for free? Take advantage of fall clean-up by scooping up items others want to replace or don't have room to store all winter. You might have to be diligent and do a little hard labor. Just keep in mind, the savings are well worth it.

The great mulch giveaway happens in both spring and fall.

That's when gardeners freshen up their fading landscape mulch. It's great news for vegetable gardeners. Re-purposed mulch can be used in the garden to keep plants hydrated. It doesn't have to be brightly colored or fancy. In fact, the plainer, the better. You don't want chemicals leeching into your organic veggies.

Watch for old windows to use as cold frames.

Homeowners replace windows and patio doors in the fall. Watch for these re-useable items on Craigslist. It's where I find a lot of my fall gardening freebies. They make great cold frames for winter veggies. Not only that, greenhouse glass is expensive. This is a great way to build an inexpensive greenhouse without using cheap plastic.

Temporary plastic pots still hold dirt.

Gardeners like to think they'll re-use those cheap plastic pots they bought their seedlings in. Some do. Others come across them and toss them when they do fall clean-up. They're anxious to get the yard clutter free before the snow falls. Take advantage of their lack of storage space. You can use these "throwaways" to plant next year's seedlings.

Landscape materials are free for the hauling.

If you don't mind a little exercise, fall freebies include tons of landscaping materials. Why are you paying for fill dirt, river rock and flagstone? You don't have to. When landscapers and homeowners finish a project or re-do a lawn, they're happy to get rid of the leftovers. You may have to collect from several different people to have enough for your project. You will definitely have to load and haul it yourself. Still, it could save you hundreds of dollars in materials.

Look for items that can be refurbished.

Homeowners often replace their lawn and garden furniture. Why not take their old stuff and make it new again? Faded redwood furniture can be re-stained. Sun damaged items can be painted. Even structural damage can be repaired. Make a comfortable garden seating area with other people's fall freebies. If you do a good job, no one will ever know.

This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.