Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tools of the trade


1. Lawn mower
Once I fired my lawn service, I had to acquire all the tools I never had. My first tool, of course was the lawn mower. I hate how my neighbour's lawn mower deafens me, I also hate how I suffocate from the fumes when he's mowing. I spent many hours researching different web sites and reading consumer reports and finally made the plunge and bought the neuton battery operated mower. If you have a yard larger than 1/4 acres ( mine is 1/3) and you are growing St. Augustine grass, be warned, this is hard manual labour. I took it as an opportunity to loose weight and improve my health. The neuton is expensive, but comes with a 4 year warranty (I got a free 3 year extended warranty). If you're not into hard labor, check your Warehouse (Costco, BJ's or SAMS Club), they often have excellent four stroke mowers at decent prices. Four stroke engines produce far less smog and harmful emissions than 2 stroke engines. Read consumer reports and talk to your neighbours friends to see what they are using. My lawn service was charging me $90 per month just for cutting, nothing else included. I figured that I would pay back the cost of the mower and other tools in less than one year.

2. String trimmer - I started off with a battery operated trimmer, it comes with two batteries, the batteries only last 10-15 minutes and are only good for a very small area. If you have a huge backyard like me invest in either a gas powered or corded electric trimmer. I opted for an electric trimmer as I don't want the hassle of tune-ups, smoke and noise. In addition the model I got can take attachments. I have an edger, chain saw pruner and string trimmer attachment.

3. Spade - invest in a good quality spade, I can't stress enough how import this is. I bought a really good mid priced one at Home Depot, its been used heavily for two years and shows no sign of wear. Make sure it has a good handle/grip and not just a bare pole with no handle.

4. Garden hose - buy the best quality you can afford. Generally rubber hoses are more expensive and more durable. Seconds best are the heavy vinyl hoses (no kink) and lastly the cheap vinyl hoses - these will kink and make watering a tedious chore.

5. Hoe for weeding - Trust me, if anything else fails to grow, the weeds will make up for it. Invest in a good hoe for weeding.

6. Secateurs / pruners - When you start off this will not be used much, but as your garden grows, you'll have to trim and prune shrubs and trees. Buy the best quality pruners you can afford.

7. Garden fork - I have almost never used my garden fork here since we have sand for soil. If you live in an area with clay or heavy soil, you will need a garden fork to aerate the soil. Make sure you buy one that is durable enough to till the soil without bending.

8. Rake - if you have a lot of deciduous trees on your property you might want to invest in a rake, or you could attach a bagger to you mower and mulch the leaves to use in your compost pile.

9. Leaf blower - When you trim or edge next to a patio or drive way, you will really want to invest in a blower, otherwise you will either have to power wash or use a broom to remove the sand/dust/clippings. I have an 18V cordless one and find it sufficient for most of my needs, the convenience makes up for the lack of power.

10. Fertiliser spreader - In hindsight, I wish I spent $20 more and bought the more expensive model with edge guard. If you have a lot of flower beds in your lawn, you will love it as it enables you to spread fertiliser without scattering it in your flower beds.

11. Hedge trimmer - if you have lots of hedges, you may want to invest in a hedge trimmer, if you buy a trimmer that takes attachments, you can just buy an additional hedge trimmer attachment.

12. Pole digger - I f you plan on building trellises, installing your own fence, a good quality pole digger can save you a lot of time.

13. Garden cart / wheelbarrow - at first this will not be an issue, as your garden grows, you will be carrying huge amounts of manure, mulch, plants or other gardening stuff around. Its far easier to load 5 bags of mulch onto a wheelbarrow than to carry two bags at a time. If you have to cover a large area like I do, even 20 bags disappear very fast.

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