Spring is almost here. Prepare for the warmer weather now, so you can get outside and make the most of it.
By Carl Duguay
Photo by Lee Valley
Once the last of the white stuff is gone, and the ground begins to warm up, it’s time for a general clean up. Cut back any dead, diseased or overgrown branches, plants, grass and weeds, and then rake up the leaves, twigs and other debris. It’s a good time to re-seed any bare patches on the lawn and add a thin layer of compost.
All the debris from your cleanup should go into the compost pile. If you don’t like the idea of an open pile, it’s easy to construct a compost bin. You’ll find lots of plans on the Internet.
Once the soil has warmed up, and there’s not much chance of frost or freezing rain, it’s time to apply mulch – about 4″ to 6″ – around trees, shrubs, and flower and garden beds. You can’t go wrong with shredded bark.
Aerating the lawn allows oxygen, water, and nutrients to more easily reach grass roots. If your lawn is small, use a manual hand aerator. Otherwise you can rent a powered aerator (or hire a landscaper to do the job for you).
Unless you intend to do a lot of concrete work, a wheelbarrow with a replaceable plastic bucket and large inflatable rubber tires is a good choice. If you have back or lifting problems, consider a battery-powered model, such as the Makita DCU180ZX2 Power-Assist Wheelbarrow, which gives up to 2 hours of runtime.
For digging, turning over soil, mixing compost, and digging around root crops, a shovel with a steel blade and pointed or slightly rounded tip works well. For heavy duty work, I like a D-handle shovel with a long handle; for light duty work, choose one with a short handle and correspondingly smaller blade.
Avoid flimsy all-plastic rakes at any cost. Choose one with a long, comfortable handle and an 18″ to 24″ span of flexible metal tines.
These pruners will give clean cuts through all manner of vines and branches up to about 1/2″ diameter. Choose a model that fits your hand size and shape and that isn’t too hard to use. Look for corrosion-resistant models with hardened steel blades.
If you have a lot of trees to manage, then loppers are a good choice for cutting large branches. However, for most homeowners, a folding hand saw with 4 to 6 tpi impulse hardened teeth will work just as effectively, at a fraction of the cost.
Trimmers make quick work of taming grass along walkways, driveways and flower beds. Battery-powered models are quieter than gas or electric trimmers, and just as effective. You’ll want as much battery power as you can get – minimum 40 Volts.