How to Make Money

5 Unusual Ways to Make Money in Your Backyard

April 16, 2014
by Steve Gillman
Contributor
Backyard

One of the most efficient strategies for making money is to use what you already have in new and profitable ways.

For example, if you own your home you can rent out a room, taking in long-term tenants for steady income or renting it out for short periods for quick cash. I made tens of thousands of dollars renting out bedrooms in my first home and paid off my mortgage quickly.

Okay, that’s inside your home. Now how do you use the property outside in new and profitable ways? Here are five examples of how to make money in your backyard.

Rent Out a Shed

Years ago, in Michigan, I built a shed in my backyard with cheap lumber, a free discarded door and window, and some leftover shingles. It cost me $240 to build it. I ran power to it and rented it out as a bedroom for $45 per week. That included use of the kitchen, living room and bathroom in the house. Some readers may think I’m a slumlord, but hey, I didn’t force anyone to live there. I even lived in the shed myself for several months so I could collect higher rent for a room inside my house. Shed living as a lifestyle is even becoming more common.

In any case, there is no reason to rent out a shed as a bedroom now that you can get almost as much renting one out for storage. The current rental price for storage runs from $50 to $140 per month for a unit roughly the size of my shed. A backyard rental will usually go for less, but if you received $60 per month on a big shed, that would be $720 per year. If you bought it for $3,600 that would be a 20% annual return on your investment. Here are a few tips: Advertise for free on Craigslist.com, have the renter provide his own lock, and have him sign something agreeing that you aren’t liable for theft or damage.

Sell Your Trees

How big is that yard of yours? A friend of mine lived on about five wooded acres, and he was paid several thousand dollars for about half of his trees. When the lumber company was done I couldn’t tell the difference. They had select-cut the trees in a way that was probably healthy for the rest of the woods.

You can call local lumber companies to see if they’re interested. It will depend on the types of trees and how many you have. Hardwood trees like maple, birch, and oak are generally the most valuable. There is even a website where you can sell trees now. Fill out a form and they send someone out to evaluate what you have, and then they make a cash offer.

Grow a Special Herb

Yes, you can now legally grow marijuana in Colorado. But I’m referring to a different herb, one favored by cool cats who like to alter their consciousness; catnip. Cats love it, and the people they own regularly buy it for them. There is also a market for humans who like to use catnip as a calming tea. It grows easily, and you can get a packet of 800 catnip seeds for $3.95 the last time I checked. One plant can produce up to a dozen small packages of dried catnip leaves, which retail for about $4 to $5 each.

One day, after I mentioned that my cats had sent me to the store to buy their fix, a friend invited me to stop by his house to take a wild catnip plant with me. There were at least a hundred of them all over his yard, growing as weeds. If he ever wanted to harvest and sell the plants the street value of this potential kitty drug operation was probably thousands of dollars. If you want some of those thousands, read up on growing and harvesting catnip and get started!

Raise Bees

I have a friend who started raising bees in his backyard about three years ago. He sells the honey produced in his hives at farmers markets. In some areas, using the right procedures, you’ll get 100 pounds or more annually from each hive. You can sell it for $6 to $12 per pound depending on how you package it. You can join an organization like the Backyard Bee Keepers for ideas and help.

Beekeepers with ten or fewer hives don’t generally get in the business of renting their hives out for pollination purposes, which is the biggest revenue source for large commercial operations. But then again, you might try it if there are small hobby farms in your area, or homes with big gardens. A beekeeping company in Seattle gets $120 per month from April through September for keeping two to four hives in yards of gardeners and others who want the plants around them to be pollinated.

Store Boats and RVs

People need someplace to put their boats and recreational vehicles when they aren’t using them. For outdoor facilities RV storage rates run from $20 to $125 per month depending on the area, the size of the vehicle, and whether any other services are included (washing, preparing them for the season, running systems to keep them working). If you have the room and the regulations are not too tight where you live, you might squeeze five or six RVs or boats into your backyard.

At an average of $50 per month each, even four RVs would bring in more than $1,200 for a winter season. Of course you should spend a couple hundred dollars for insurance or have the owners sign something releasing you from any liability for damage. This plan works best if you are mechanically inclined and can offer additional services like tuning up boat motors and RV generators. And you’ll get higher rental rates if you have a security camera pointed at the backyard and connected to your computer.

Your Turn: Have you ever made money using your backyard? If so please tell us below about your profits and how you made them…

by Steve Gillman
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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