Lawn Equipment

Maintaining that beautiful green

A beautiful lawn is something to take pride in, but it takes dedication and hard work. To cultivate a lush, green yard, you'll need a few key pieces of equipment in addition to your lawn mower.

The most undervalued lawn tool is the lawn aerator. Is your grass looking sparse? You seed regularly, but it never seems to catch well? Is there a dry, brown mat of thatch suffocating your lawn? Your problem is probably soil compaction. Grass needs loose soil in order to get enough air, water and nutrients. A lawn aerator punches holes in the ground to allow better circulation. It may look messy at first, but it will pay off.

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You have several options for lawn aeration. Hand aerators are relatively inexpensive, but they aren't practical for large lawns. Mechanical aerators get the job done quickly, but they can be costly; you may prefer to rent one. Spiked aerating shoes are better than nothing, but they won't be as effective as a proper aerator. One way or another, though, all lawns should be aerated at least once a year.

Once your lawn has proper circulation and drainage, it needs water. If you have the budget for it, an in-ground sprinkler system is ideal. Most people, however, use a portable lawn sprinkler. When choosing a sprinkler, keep in mind the size of your yard and how often you will need to water it. A rotating sprinkler can cover a large radius, but delivers more water to the outer area of its reach, so the middle may not get enough. An oscillating model provides even coverage, but of a smaller area, so it will need to be moved around a lot. If you like nifty gadgets, look for a traveling sprinkler – the pressure of the water leaving the sprinkler sends it rolling along a track, covering a larger area.

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Hedge Trimmer

An important part of maintaining a neat, trim yard is keeping your hedges and shrubs under control. Manual hedge trimmers do a good job if you've only got one or two bushes, but for more shrubbery, you'll appreciate some power. There are three main options: gas hedge trimmers, corded electric hedge trimmers and cordless hedge trimmers.

A gas hedge trimmer offers the most power and portability. It will get you through heavy-duty jobs, but it is noisy and dirty. These models also cost more at the outset.

An electric hedge trimmer runs clean and quiet, and is lightweight compare to a gas-powered trimmer. A corded model can run continuously, but you will be limited by the length of its cord. A cordless hedge trimmer allows for good portability, as long as you keep it recharged. Either way, electric trimmers are better suited for smaller yards.

Weedeater

Weed trimmers or weed eaters are known by many names, but no matter what you call them, they are very handy tools. Their small cutting head and handheld design allow you to cut grass and weeds in areas where a lawn mower cannot reach. The most generic term for this type of equipment is string trimmer, since it operates not with a blade, but simply with a nylon string that rotates at high speed. The whipping nylon string cuts grass and weed stems without damaging walls, fences or even shoes.

The first thing to consider when choosing a weed trimmer is power type. Gas weedeaters are heavier, noisier and cost more, but they have more power. Electric models are lighter and better for the environment, but they are limited by the length of their cords. A rechargeable battery-powered weed wacker is more portable, but still lacks the power needed for big jobs.

You will also need to choose between a straight and curved shaft for your weed eater. Curved-shank trimmers may be more comfortable to use because their weight is better balanced. They are also better for trimming close up, but the curved handle makes it harder to reach under fences and bushes. A straight-shank weed thrasher is longer, making it better for taller users, and it's possibly also safer, as it places more distance between you and any debris that gets thrown up.

To keep your grass trim, of course you'll need a lawn mower. But for a professional-looking lawn, you have to pay attention to detail. A grass trimmer will take care of grass along walls and around fence posts, where your mower can't reach. A lawn edger cuts a clean edge along hard surfaces such as patios and driveways. It can also cut a trench between your grass and flower beds, giving a clean look and keeping weeds from spreading.

Finally, don't forget off-season maintenance for your lawn. In the fall, all those leaves need to be raked up so that they don't smother the grass over the winter. If you have a large yard, or a bad back, consider a leaf blower to make the job easier. Be sure to pick up any garden tools, toys or rocks before the snow comes, as well. These will also prevent the grass from coming back wherever they lie. And once the snow comes, if you find yourself missing the lawn mower, you can always get to work with the snow blower to keep up appearances!