Written by Chris Campbell
This is the time of year when it’s too hot and humid to enjoy the outdoors, let alone working in the yard or garden for very long. But it is a great time to take inventory of your lawn and garden tools and get them ready for fall chores. Most of us have tools in a shed or garage that we used this spring or last fall. Some may be sharp and clean. Others probably have dried mud and rust. Some of your tools may be new, but many of us have “hand-me-down” yard and garden tools from parents or even grandparents that may be past their prime. Let’s face it. There are new lawn and garden tools that require less effort and are kinder to our bodies.
So where should you start with your tool inventory?
Weeding is the most common garden chore during summer and into fall. Muddy gloves are stiff and uncomfortable, so toss them into the wash. If your gloves have holes or are just beyond hope, get a new pair of gloves that fit correctly and give your hands good grip. New leather or bamboo gloves offer great hand protection with added grip. Heavily used garden “kneelers” and kneeling pads do wear out. Once you clean the mud off, check for holes or tears and replace it if it doesn’t give good cushion to your knees.
Garden knives, pruners and hand tools, including a weeder, cultivator, transplanter and/or trowel, work best if each is clean and sharp. If you use these frequently and have aches and pain afterward, you should consider replacing these with new ergonomically designed tools. Products designed by Radius® are made to relieve stress that causes wrist and elbow pain. Oxo-Grip garden pruners are cushioned and are easy to use, especially for those of us with arthritis or a weak grip. Felco and ratchet-style pruners are also good options.
How about your rake? Most of us have leaf rakes for lighter jobs. The old-fashioned straight “bow” rake takes a lot of effort for heavy jobs. Radius® makes two new styles of rakes that look funny, but do the job. The GROUND HOG has a curved head with straight tines on a longer shaft set at an angle that doesn’t force you to bend over when you rake. It works great on wet leaves, mulch, branches, trash or most anything you want to remove from your yard or garden without a lot of effort. Its partner rake is the GARDEN SHARK, which has a curved head with inward curved tines on the same long angled shaft. The Garden Shark is perfect for cleaning and cultivating, since it grabs unwanted rocks, dirt clods and other junk that you might otherwise have to remove by hand. By using a push-pull motion, the Garden Shark cultivates and smooths without much effort.
Shovels and hoes are used and abused the most of any garden tool. However, it is hard to dig a big hole with a tree or transplant spade. Conversely, it is hard to transplant trees and shrubs with a digging shovel. Inspect your spades and shovels. Get them clean and sharp. If you plan to transplant trees, shrubs or perennials this fall, be sure you have the right tool for the job. Also, look for ergonomically designed spades and shovels made by Radius® that are easier on your back and upper torso. And a helpful hint… to extend the life of your tools, remember to wash them (removing all mud, dirt and weeds) after each use to avoid rusting and dulling blades.