Backyard essentials for (much!) less at the dollar store

As we start living outdoors once again, we inevitably find that we need a few things, and it can be surprising how fast a "few things" can add up to mega bucks. So, I headed to my favorite dollar store and found that you can save a lot of cash on the backyard essentials you're likely to need this summer. Please check prices and availability in your area.

Barbecue tools -- Who doesn't love a backyard BBQ? If you need a new barbecue scrubber, try the dollar store first. The one I bought is two-sided with wire bristles on one side and a scrubber sponge the other and cost $1. At Wal-mart, a one-sided BBQ grill brush is $2.97. The same thing is only $1 at the dollar store. Wal-mart has long handled metal tongs for $1.97 but you can save almost a buck by getting them at the dollar store instead. You can also buy a long-handled spatula or fork with rubber grips, a package of 8 BBQ skewers and a silicone basting brush for only a buck each at a dollar store near you. Wal-mart has an 8-piece barbecue tool set for $14.97 but, by buying each piece individually at the dollar store, your cost would only be $8.

Barbecue lighter -- You can buy a fancy barbecue lighter but it isn't really necessary. Wal-mart has a disposable lighter for $1.67 and the hardware store has what looks like the same lighter that the dollar store sells, except for the color. Their price? $2.99. The dollar store lighter is refillable and only costs a buck. It has a child-proof feature and works great.

Outdoor lighting -- Bamboo garden torches with candles are 30" long and only $1.50 at Dollarama. The candle comes in a terra cotta holder that is easily replacable or refillable. For table lighting, you can choose from a variety of faux stone tea light holders in a variety of configurations that cost between $1 and $2 apiece. At a hardware store in my area, they carry oil torches that are 5' long. They cost $4.99 each.