Campbell Vaughn: Landscape gadgets make for efficient work – The Augusta Chronicle


This past weekend the sun finally came out and it was glorious. I took some time off from being Noah building an ark in my woodshop to get outside and do some things I have been itching to do for a while. The phone is also ringing off the hook at the office with landscape questions, so I know that it isn’t just me that mentally needed some sunshine. While I was piddling around in the yard, I thought I might share some of my favorite landscape gadgets that have helped me tremendously in the yard over the years.

The first thing I would recommend is to buy a quality, comfortable 4-gallon backpack sprayer. I have a pretty large yard and will strap the backpack sprayer on and spray large areas like walkways and wooded areas for weeds. It is so easy and a little cathartic. Since 4 gallons can be a little heavy on the back, you don’t have to fill it all the way up if you need to lighten the load. Remember if you are spraying glyphosate, make sure you spray the entire mixture in the tank because it loses its’ effectiveness after a few days.

If you spray a lot, purchase marking ink to mix with your chemicals before you spray. I sometimes battle a specific weed in my grass and marking ink lets me know where I have sprayed. It is usually a blue dye that is water soluble. It will let you know what you hit and what you missed and keep you from over spraying or under spaying the targeted weeds. The dye washes out after a rain so don’t worry about long-term stains. Box stores don’t seem to carry this dye much, so I look for this product at specialty landscape supply places or use online retailers to find it.

If you are a serious gardener or know someone who is, buy a Mantis (or like) tiller. These little machines are awesome. They are great lightweight tillers that do a fantastic job of cleaning small beds for planting vegetables and flowers. They aren’t meant to till your whole yard for resodding or going through heavily rooted areas, but they will fluff your beds like a Kitchenaide mixer. They are usually around $300 but are a great addition to your landscape arsenal.

A must have for the landscape is a good set of pruners and loppers. This makes life so much easier when you have to get out and shape some trees and shrubs. I like to use the bypass type better than the anvil type because of the cleaner cuts they make. Sharp and sturdy is what works best in the pruner world. Usually the more you spend the better the quality, but I have had luck with more reasonably priced Fiskars and Corona brands. The quantity of pruning you do dictates how much you spend on the tool.

So I had to ask Susie in my office what was her favorite yard tool and she mentioned a hori hori knife. This Japanese gardener’s staple is a hard steel double bladed knife that has one serrated side and another is a standard sharp blade. The end point on the hori hori is semi sharp. Also referred to as a soil knife, you can weed, prune, measure, cut and dig with this tool. And I guess you can look cool as well with a knife on your side while tackling yard projects.

I have spent a whole lot of time in the landscape over the years and anything I can do to make my limited time a little more efficient is always worth a good look.

 

Reach Campbell Vaughn, the UGA Agriculture and Natural Resource agent for Richmond County, by e-mailing augusta@uga.edu.

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