Weeding Tools Recommendations

Today I used several weeding tools to maintain a garden overgrown with weeds.

Truth be told it was my fault.

Last fall I over seeded the lawn and some seed found its way into the beds.  The gardens were a mix of grass, dandelions and chickweed.

I spent the afternoon ‘hacking’ away at the weeds with my weeding tools.  I’d like to share the method to my madness with you.

Weeding Tools Recommendations

First, I went through the beds with my weeding knife (Far right) and pulled the dandelions.  If you cut dandelions with a hoe the long tap-root will grow back.  You have to dig down and remove the root.

Next, I went through the front of the bed with my grub hoe (Second from left).  The grub hoe packs more of a punch than a hoe.  It’s perfect for removing heavy weeds and sod.

I used my cutting hoe (Second from right) where the weeds were sparse.  A cutting hoe with a sharp edge is the right tool for stray chickweed.

Four Weeding Tools Results
Piles of weeds at the front of the bed ready to pick up with a manure fork.

A manure fork is the perfect tool to load weed piles into a wheelbarrow.  A manure fork has sharp tines and light weight.  I recommend you buy a 5 tine manure fork.

I hope you’ll try one of the weeding tools above to improve your productivity when weeding gardens.


Tips for Getting Work Done

After three days of hard work I’m almost finished preparing a garden bed.  It was a hard-fought victory that taught me tips for getting work done.

We’ve had a mild winter and I looked forward to working with the temperature in the 50’s and 60’s.  Last week the weather changed.  It’s been in the low 40’s with overcast skies and showers.

Landscape Before work Begins - Tips for Getting Work Done
The first thing I do when I arrive at a job is formulate a plan to get the work done.

First, I removed six yards of mulch from around a Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum sp.) and the landscape fabric underneath.  There was too much mulch around the tree.

Mulch over six inches deep - Tips for Getting Work Done
There was over six inches of mulch under the Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum sp.) along with landscape fabric. The mulch and the landscape fabric had to go for the health of the tree.
Removing Mulch Under the Red Maple - Tips for Getting Work Done
Removing excess mulch around the Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum sp.).

The only place to get rid of the mulch was off the property.  That meant loading a wheelbarrow and pushing it up a 15 foot slope to my truck about 40 yards away.

Did I mention this was my first job of the season?  My body is nowhere near conditioned yet.

This afternoon as I finished for the day the sun broke through the clouds.  It was like the heavens opened up and said, “Attaboy John!”

Sun Shines on the Future Garden - Tips for Getting Work Done
In a weird twist of fate the sun broke through the clouds as I was finishing for the day. The line through the bed is a future stepping stone path.

Tips for getting work done

      1. Get started.  Even if you don’t have a plan for how to do the work.  When you start a plan will form in your mind.  I’m talking about a plan to complete the work, not a landscape design.
      2. Congratulate yourself for getting started.  If you the type of person, like me, who occasionally over thinks things don’t beat yourself up for lost time.
      3. Enjoy the work.  I enjoy good “clean” hard work.  Digging, mulching, splitting wood, etc.  I feel energized, albeit exhausted, after a days work.
      4. Break the job into manageable pieces.  I set a goal for each day.  My first day on most jobs the goal is to get to the job and get started.  Once I’m working a plan will form (See step 1).  The second day my goal was to clean up the mulch under the Japanese Maple.  The third day my goal was to finish preparing the bed.  By the third day I gained momentum and prepared another bed.
      5. Take a break if you need one.  Nothing saps productivity like rushing through a job or stressing about a deadline.  It may seem counter productive but you’ll notice big dividends from a break.
      6. Wear comfortable shoes.  A landscaper is only as good as his or her footwear.  If your shoes are heavy you’ll move slowly.  If your feet are wet your day will be miserable.  Some days I bring a couple pair of shoes and a heavy and light weight sweatshirt.  The first two days I wore heavy insulated steel toe boots.  When the sun broke I put my lightweight Muck Boots on and felt like I could fly.  I wear the lightest shoes I can.  The exception is when I need steel toes for safety.
Muck Boots vs Winter Boots - Tips for Getting Work Done
Given the choice I prefer my lighter and more comfortable muck boots.

You started the job.  You’re going to finish it.  That’s all that matters.

I hope these tips for getting work done will help you get through your next job.  Get out there and have fun!

Prune Lawn Trees High

I just returned from an evening walk with Theo and my forehead burns from a fresh scratch.

Theo walked around a tree four feet from the road.  As I went around the back a branch caught me 3 inches above the eyes.

I did have a flashlight.  I was looking at the ground for footing and suddenly smack!

This is a great example of why it’s so important to prune lawn trees above people’s heads.  Assume folks will be walking in the dark and can’t see where they’re going.

People driving down the street or your driveway also appreciate not having their cars scratched.

A final friendly tip.  Don’t leave stubs on a tree, especially at eye height, where someone can lose an eye.

Theo the Great Pyrenees Mix Pupply
Theo our Great Pyrenees mix puppy.  He’s 90 lbs at just over a year old.  What a sweetheart.  He loves people, dogs, cats and creatures of all shapes and sizes.


How Close to House to Plant Shrubs

The short answer.  As far as possible.

Plants are constantly growing taller and spreading wider.

When planting small to medium shrubs my goal is 1-2 feet of air between the edge of a shrub and the home.  Not just when I plant.  For the life of the landscape.

You can prune the back of a shrub, where no one sees, as often as needed to keep the gap.

If there isn’t a gap you’re in trouble.

Shrub too Close to House
I saw this Rhododendron slammed against the house this Spring.  It motivated me to write this post.
Shrub planted too close to house
This Rhododendron is an extreme example of planting too close.

Medium shrubs like Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Spirea, Holly and Boxwood go  2.5-3′ from the side of the house.

I can easily walk behind the shrubs after planting.

Rhododendron Planted Next to House
This rhododendron has a 2′ gap between the foliage and the side of the house.

Large shrubs and small trees like Viburnum, Dogwood and Stewartia go a minimum of 6′ from the edge of the house and preferably 8′.

Viburnum Planted Next to House
This Viburnum is 8′ from the house. Imagine the pruning nightmare if it was 3-4′ away.

When in doubt plant farther from the house.  You’ll never regret it.