Snow Shovels

Snow Shovel Types And Uses

Types of Snow Shovels And How To Use Them

The winter season is upon us and that means that it is inevitably the time for shoveling snow if you’re one of the unlucky ones without a snow blower. Before you tackle snow shoveling this season, it is important to make sure you have the best snow shovel for the job. A snow shovel is a simple tool to use to remove snow from driveways, walkways, steps, patios, decks and other outdoor areas so that they are clear after the snow falls. Snow shovels are also useful to free your car of snow if it has been snowed in and to keep the areas around your home or business free of snow so that walking and driving is not a hazard.

There are many types of snow shovels to choose from and finding the best type of snow shovel to fit the job and that will be the safest to use without causing injury to your back or other parts of your body is an important step in ensuring that the next snowfall will not be the cause of undue physical injury.

Here is a rundown of different types of snow shovels so you can determine the best snow shovels for you, depending on style, price and ease of use.

Snow Shovel types

electric snow shovelElectric snow shovel

Electric snow shovels or power snow shovels are the easiest way to remove snow without much human-powered effort. An electric or power snow shovel is not as large as a snowblower, but is made to shovel and blow snow so that you don’t have to contend with lots of heavy lifting. One popular model is the Toro snow shovel, known as the Toro Electric Power Shovel, which can clear snow that is up to six inches deep. This popular model retails for around $100, but saves you lots of heavy lifting and potential backaches. There are other models of electric snow shovels for sale as well, and owning one is a luxury because it avoids lots of manual labor after a snowfall.

Aluminum snow shovel

Aluminum snow shovels are among the most popular types of shovels for snow.  They are lightweight and durable, and do not break easily like plastic snow shovels sometimes do. These shovels are less expensive than steel or metal snow shovels but are a good choice for homeowners that only occasionally need to shovel snow.  Aluminum snow shovel prices range from $10 for a basic inexpensive model up to over $100, depending on other features. Most range from $20 – $50.  Aluminum snow shovels are available in many different shapes and sizes.

Steel snow shovel

Similar in style and to aluminum snow shovels, steel snow shovels are a bit heavier and more durable than aluminum models. They are also more expensive. These snow shovels are the perfect solution if you live in areas that receive a decent amount of snowfall or you need to shovel large areas. Many small business owners use a steel snow shovel to clear off the areas outside of their business.

Ergonomic snow shovelErgonomic snow shovel

To ensure that your back is subjected to the least amount of strain possible, ergonomic snow shovels are a good option. These shovels have a bent S-shaped handle which take the strain off of your back when shoveling snow. Ergonomic snow shovels are recommended for anyone shoveling snow that has back problems and are a good option for anyone looking to take some of the strain off of their back muscles when shoveling snow. They are a little more expensive than standard snow shovels but worth the extra few dollars.

Folding snow shovel

If you live or drive in an area that is prone to snow, it is a good idea to keep an auto snow shovel in your car. Since cars have limited space, the best option for an emergency snow shovel for your car is a folding snow shovel. Folding snow shovels are compact and do not take up much room in the trunk of your car but are available for use any time you are out and your car is stuck in the snow and you need to shovel your way out.  Auto snow shovels should be a part of every emergency kit for those that may encounter snow while on the road.

Push snow shovelPush snow shovel

Sometimes lifting snow is not the best solution to snow removal and that’s where push snow shovels come in handy. A snow shovel pusher or a push snow shovel is partially rounded on the bottom and is made to push the snow, rather than lifting the snow up to remove it to another location. Push snow shovels are often used in conjunction with lifting snow shovels to most effectively clear snow and are a good option for light snow falls to easily clear the ground. Pushing the snow also causes less back strain than lifting snow.

Kids snow shovel

Kids love to help out when it comes to shoveling snow or love to just play in the snow with a shovel, but most large snow shovels are just too cumbersome for them to handle.  Kids snow shovels are smaller sized shovels that are made specifically for kids to use. They are often plastic although you can also find aluminum kid snow shovels for sale. A kids plastic snow shovel can be purchased for $10 or less.

Buying a Snow Shovel

When purchasing a snow shovel, it is best to not only consider the style of snow shovel you are looking to purchase, but also to make sure the size of the shovel is one that you can comfortably handle. Some large snow shovels, while allowing for quicker snow removal due to their size, are just too heavy to be used by some people or cannot be lifted if completely filled with snow due to their excessive weight. Wide snow shovels are great for some locations but are not best for narrower areas.  In some cases, a small snow shovel is all that is needed or all that can be comfortably handled.

Another consideration to keep in mind when buying a snow shovel is how comfortable the handle of the shovel is. Different snow shovel handles will be comfortable to different people.  The length and design of the handle are also important to test out prior to purchase in order to make sure the shovel is comfortable to use. It is best to try out moving a snow shovel along the ground and lifting it up and to the side before purchasing it to ensure it is comfortable to use.

A snow shovel is a necessity for anyone that lives in a climate that is prone to snow, but there are many options of snow shovels for sale, depending on how often you need to shovel snow, how much snow you typically need to shovel, how fit or healthy you are, and how much you are willing to spend. Many people have more than one type of snow shovel stored in their garage or shed, either to tackle different types of snowfalls or to allow for multiple people to help shovel the snow after a big snowfall. Most snow shovels are relatively inexpensive and will last through many years of snowfalls.

No matter what type of snow shovel you own, however, it is important to make sure you are healthy enough to shovel snow before tackling the job. Snow shoveling can cause a great deal of physical strain and is the cause of many injuries and health problems and should only be done by those who are physically capable of handling the physical challenges of snow removal.

clover

How to Get Rid of Clover in Lawns

Get Rid of Clover in Your Yard for Good!

While finding a four leafed clover might bring you the luck of the Irish, large patches of clover in your lawn could be considered an eyesore, especially if they’re messing with your landscaping ideas for your front yard.  Clover can also attract bees to pollinate it, and if you have kids running around barefoot, they could accidentally step on a bee and get stung  Luckily, getting rid of clover in grass isn’t particularly hard.  In fact, killing clover in lawns can be done organically and without the help of any herbicides that could harm your grass if sprayed incorrectly.

Clover Basics (And How to Prevent It)

If you have clover in your lawn, odds are that it is because you have low nitrogen levels in the soil. Clover outperforms grass when nitrogen in the soil is low. The good news is that clover then takes the nitrogen from the air and puts it into the soil, helping the grass eventually grow back bigger and thicker.

This also means that small patches of clover is actually a good thing for your lawn and can help it to stay green and healthy.  But, if you get big patches of it or are intent on a perfectly manicured lawn, regular feeding and watering should prevent any clover from forming. You can use professional lawn fertilizers to do this or you can simply mulch your grass (see our best walk behind lawn mowers that have this function) and put it back down on your lawn. This should break down and provide the nitrogen that the grass needs to grow healthy and strong.

How to Get Rid of Clover in Lawn Organically

small clover patchGrass Can Naturally Overtake Clover Patches. Because clover competes for grass when nitrogen is low, the easiest solution for how to kill clover in grass is allowing the clover to do its job and making the conditions right for the grass to eventually choke it out.  Best of all, this is easy to do and won’t require any extra work on your part.  Simply do these two things:

  • Mulch your clippings back into your lawn to provide extra nitrogen for the grass
  • Mow your grass higher.  Grass grows higher than clover, so mow your grass higher, putting the clover in the shade.  Mow it shorter than the clover flowers though so that they don’t get a chance to seed and reproduce.

How to Kill Clover in My Lawn Today

If you want to get rid of your clover right now and don’t want to wait, you can also weed it out of your lawn yourself.  Removing clover from lawn is easy because the roots aren’t deep like many weeds, but it should be done in the spring and fall when grass grows the fastest.  You also need to take care to solve the original problem of low nutrients in the soil!  This is also most useful for small patches where it won’t take up too much of your time.

To kill clover in lawn today:

  • Water the lawn to loosen the grip the clover’s roots have on your soil.
  • Wait a few hours for the water to soak in.
  • Use a weeder like the best-selling Fiskars 7870 Uproot Lawn & Garden Weeder  to remove the clover by hand
  • Once the clover is removed place good mulch and grass seed down like the Scotts 14923 PatchMaster Grass Seed/Mulch Mix so that your grass grows back greener and healthier than ever!

How to Get Rid of Clover in Grass Chemically

You can also always decide to get rid of clover with herbicides and clover weed killers  such as  Ortho Weed-B-Gon Chickweed, Clover, And Oxalis Killer.  Make sure to buy herbicides for broad leaf plants so that it won’t harm your grass.  While it will get rid of the clover quickly, it won’t necessarily solve the problem that caused the clover in the first place.  Make sure that you also continue to feed and seed your lawn to prevent the clover from coming back.

These solutions for how to get rid of clover in lawn will help you solve your clover problem, but just remember that clover is indicative of a poorly fed lawn in the first place.  To keep clover out of your lawn, make sure that you continue aerating your lawn, professionally fertilizing it, and also much up your lawn clippings to keep it healthy!

dandelions

How to Kill Dandelions

How to Kill Dandelions Without Killing Grass

Dandelions are one of the toughest weeds to control. Even just a few of them can destroy an otherwise green and vibrant lawn. But don’t reach for the Roundup or other herbicides just yet. Spraying many weed killers on your lawn can leave you at risk of killing your grass as well, leaving giant brown spots in your lawn where before you had a lush lawn. Following are a few tips for how to kill dandelions without killing the grass.

Why are dandelions so hard to kill compared with unwanted intruders like clover? There are two reasons.

  • Dandelion seeds spread quickly once they reach maturity, flying on the breeze with little seeds. One weed can quickly turn into dozens, and neighborhood kids picking and blowing on the seed balls don’t help!
  • Secondly, the tap root of the dandelion is about 10 to 20 inches long. Hence, even if you pull it out, it leaves enough of a fracture to enable another pesky dandelion growing in its place.

So, how to kill dandelions without killing the grass? Here are some simple remedies which can help you in maintaining the beauty of your lawn.

    • A specialized tool can be used for pulling the weed by hand. It is essential to remove the entire weed and you can do so by making use of an aerator or by inserting a dandelion fork, like the one pictured to the right into the ground for pulling up the nutrient rich roots of the weed. If you’re using an aerator instead, you can use the aerator’s prongs to cover the center of the weed and then lift the complete weed structure from the ground by twisting your wrist.
    • You can use horticultural vinegar for drenching the weed in it. In a period of two to three days, it can be removed.
    • On well established lawns, you should make use of corn gluten which plays the role of a pre-emergent herbicide. As per the label’s directions, it should be applied in the spring which is about four to six weeks before the sprouting of the weeds. In the fall, this application should be repeated.
    • For completing their developmental process, the weeds need light. To prevent their growth, the light can be blocked by using a dark colored plastic or a cardboard which is weighed down with grass clippings, compost or bark mulch.
    • Probably the most fun you can have removing dandelions is by using the Weed Dragon Propane Vapor Torch Kit. This kit hooks up to any propane tank and can blast the weeds in your yard with 100,000 BTUs of heat. Much more fun than pulling weeds, but make sure you’re safe and observe local laws. Click the link above or the picture to the right to find it for the cheapest prices online.
    • Mowing high is also recommended for keeping the dandelion weeds in check. This means that the grass should be on the longer side of its ideal height. At least a height of 2.5 inches should be maintained as it will provide shade which will prevent the seeds of the dandelion from germinating and thus control their growth. Frequent mowing is also helpful because the topmost growth of the weed will keep getting lopped off and therefore it cannot form seed heads.

Now you know how to kill dandelions without killing the grass and you can protect your lawn from any serious damage.

Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass is also referred to as a grass with a pretty name; Brousemichea Balansa. Because of its hardiness, it is ideal for golf courses and lawns. Extreme variations in water, temperature and sunlight can be tolerated by this grass and it proliferates in warm weather. Native to Southeast and Eastern Asia, it is a creeping grass. This grass is mostly found on grasslands and is common in Australasia, Japan and China. Karl Von Zois was an Austrian botanist after whom this grass is named.

Introduction

Less mowing and watering is required by Zoysia grass. It has a unique style of growing through ‘stolons’ due to which it can spread quickly. It sends out more stolons along with sideway branches which take root in the soil. It is considered pleasant for walking barefoot because it makes a thick layered carpet which feels soft. The area in which it grows in is not infiltrated by weeds. It has deep roots and as compared to other grass it can thrive on very less water. Therefore, it uses the underlying moisture to sustain itself. The grass does not grow quickly because it has a lateral growth pattern and this leads to less mowing.

Cutting a Lawn Full of Zoysia GrassAdvantages

  • During the extremely hot summer months, Zoysia grass can grow well.
  • A cushiony, thick and dense turf can be easily established with it.
  • Summer weeds and crab grass can be controlled and prevented with its thick growth.
  • The cool-season grasses become very unattractive in the summer months while this grass maintains its green color.
  • Close mowing of this grass is also possible.
  • If it is managed properly, this grass can be grown in most types of soil.
  • During the summer season, it can withstand wear and tear.
  • After it has been well established, it can also tolerate low fertility.
  • Severe heat stress can also be tolerated by this particular grass.
  • In comparison to other cool season turf grasses, it needs very little water.

Watering Needs

For the first two weeks after it has been put in, Zoysia grass requires light watering everyday especially in the absence of rainfall. Later, a strong root system will be encouraged by infrequent yet thorough watering. When the leaf blades give signs of wilting, then only should it be watered. This grass is drought tolerant because it has a deep root system and can extract moisture from greater soil depths.

Fertilizing Needs

During active growth i.e. from April to October, the grass should be fertilized per 1000 square feet with two to four pounds of nitrogen. It should be fertilized in the fall as well if you want a better color in cool weather.

Mowing Needs

Zoysia grass should be mowed fairly low which is around ½ or 1 inch high. A reel mower should be used preferably. Also, in order to avoid a thick layer of thatch, the height of the grass should be kept below two inches which means it has to be mowed on a frequent basis. Mowing evenly can prove to be very tricky especially with long blades because it has a prickly texture. In order to remove thatch, periodic vertical mowing should be done which is quite useful.

Types of Zoysia Grass

There are several types of Zoysia grass which can be found. Some of them are listed below:

  • Japanese: Having a coarse texture, Zoysia japanonica greatly resembles tall fescue. As compared to any other type of Zoysia grass, it grows faster. It can also survive well in the cold weather, has light green leaves and is hairy.
  • Mascarene: This grass cannot stand the cold and is known as Zoysia tenuifolia. It can form a dense and fluffy turf because its leaves are short and fine. Mostly used as a low growing ground cover, it was introduced from the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean.
  • Manila: In 1911, Zoysia Mantrella was brought from the Philippines into the US.  The lawn produced by this grass is denser than that of Zoysia Japanonica and it grows slowly. It requires sufficient sunlight and the texture of its leaves is very fine. In lawns where slow growth is not an issue, this grass is recommended for high maintenance and high quality.

There are other types of this grass which are hybrid of the above mentioned types such as Emerald, Meyer etc. Basically, Zoysia grass is ideal if you are looking for a low maintenance lawn.

best lawn sweeper

The Best Lawn Sweeper Guide for 2019 (and Reviews)

Which is the BEST Leaf Sweeper (and Why!)

A leaf or lawn sweeper is one of the best pieces of garden equipment you can invest in to help achieve a beautiful lawn. It keeps your yard from getting buried under last season’s fallen debris or summer’s grass trimmings. Keeping your lawn’s appearance manicured and professionally maintained is effortless with the help of lawn sweepers.

Lawn Sweeper Basics

The lawn sweeper, or leaf sweeper as it is also known, is a mechanical implement used to collect debris such as fallen leaves, grass clippings or any litter from paved or level surfaces like a lawn. It is operated by a revolving mechanism that picks up the leaves or other debris and places it into a container for later discard.

This isn’t the same as a leaf blower as the blower just “blows” the debris around, where as a lawn sweeper picks up everything so you don’t need to rake it up later. And if you want to see the best leaf blower, check out our article.

Lawn leaf sweepers have two main types – manual or hand powered, and motorized. The motorized models can be further classified into a push or rolling leaf sweeper or a tow behind leaf sweeper. They can also be bought with a built-in shredder attached. Determining the best choice for you will depend on your needs.

Push leaf sweepers or hand-powered leaf sweepers use gears for the brush mechanism to rotate picking up debris and transferring it into an attached bag called a hopper. The height of the rollers can be adjusted so they can be used on different surfaces, including non-grassy areas such as patio slabs or stone walkways.

Powered lawn sweepers are similar to push lawn sweepers, except that they use gasoline, oil or electricity to operate the brush mechanism. These are ideal to use for larger lawns and gardens. The height of their rollers can also be modified. One disadvantage of powered lawn sweepers is the noise they generate.

A powered leaf collector with a shredder allows the user to produce mulch with the leaves that it collects. The shredder, however, limits it use on certain surfaces. Towed lawn sweepers operate very much like the others, but instead of being pushed, they need a small vehicle, such as a garden tractor, lawnmower or ATV to lug it around. The brush heights may be modified as well so it can be used on different surfaces.

Making the Decision to Buy

Spending money on a leaf lawn sweeper takes some consideration. In addition to what they cost, you also need to think about storage. Tow lawn sweepers use up a large space to store them.

Because they are equipped with a large hamper or hopper, it is not simple to stow them away. Hand powered lawn sweepers, on the other hand, take up less space to store compared with towed sweepers. They are smaller and some can even be folded. Some are even light enough to hang on the wall right next to your garden tool rack or weed wacker.

Another benefit to choosing manual leaf sweepers over powered sweepers is that since they require no power, they are less harmful to the environment.

The size of your yard and how much debris you typically need to clean up will also help you figure out which is the best lawn sweeper to buy to meet your needs.  Hopper size will also be determined by these factors.

Where you buy a lawn sweeper should also be considered. Look for a reputable supplier and look for manufacturers that offer good warranties. Warranties are important in case a problem arises. Availability of parts should also be considered. It’s also a good idea to check up front to see if finding leaf sweeper replacement parts is easy for the particular model you are considering.  You don’t want to buy a model that you will later find out is near impossible to find parts for, leaving you stuck to buy a whole new apparatus down the road.

In addition to all of these considerations, lawn sweeper prices are another important factor to think about. The quality, type and model of your sweeper will depend on the money you are willing to spend.

Lawn Sweeper Maintenance

Different types of lawn and leaf sweepers have their own advantages and disadvantages, but one thing they have in common is their need for proper maintenance. Caring for your sweeper ensures that they deliver the best performance. Apart from this, keeping them well-maintained helps ensure that they last for a very long time.

Maintenance of leaf sweepers is as simple as following the directions in the User’s Manual which shows you how the machine is operated, cleaned and replaced with parts. Below are general instructions on cleaning your leaf sweeper, which is generally common to all models:

  • Before every use, inspect the overall condition of the sweeper. Check for damage, loose screws, misalignment, sticks or breaks in moving parts.
  • Oil the brush shaft bearings twice a year.
  • Clean the hopper. Dispose of everything in it after each use. Use a dry rag to clean the insides.
  • Avoid using it on wet leaves. If this happens, make sure to clean and wipe after use.
  • Clean the wheels regularly. Apply an even coat of light grease after. Make sure not to overtighten the wheel bolt and nut.
  • Clean the brushes. Remove the hopper first then wipe the brushes.
  • Wipe the sweeper down after every use. Just take a rag and wipe it off.
  • Store the leaf sweeper properly after use.

Proper Handling

It is also important to follow safety precautions for the health and safety of the user. Below is a list of general advice to follow:

  • Do not use leaf or lawn sweepers in extremely wet places.
  • Keep children away.
  • Use only identical replacement parts.
  • Do not use a leaf sweeper for any job except that for which it is intended.
  • Do not force the sweeper.
  • Store when not in use.
  • Do not perform any maintenance or make repairs while the sweeper is moving.

Green Living with Leaf Sweepers

One great benefit in using a leaf sweeper is its help in protecting the environment, especially those not powered by gas or oil. They do not emit fumes, and unlike leaf blowers or leaf vacuums, they do not add to carbon emissions, which increase the health risk for respiratory diseases.

Below are more environmental benefits of leaf sweepers:

  • Harvests weed seeds and reduce their growth, which in turn reduces the need for a chemical weed control service.
  • Reduces the aggravation of allergy and hay fever because of grass clippings.
  • Reduces health problems such as asthma and hay fever because of grass, tree and weed pollen.
  • Reduces the risk of fires because of debris.
  • Helps eliminate potential breeding grounds for insects like flies.
  • Some debris can become potential sources of alternative fuel. Grass, for example, is now being converted into bio crude oil.

Collected debris can also be made into mulch or compost. Compost is any organic matter that has been decayed for use of aiding the growth of plants and trees in particular. Mulch on the other hand is used to suppress growth, weeds specifically, and should not have undergone decomposition.

To make compost, collect shredded leaves and place them in a compost bin. Mix and water the ingredients. Turn the mixture over and swap the layers to ensure that decomposition becomes even. Once decomposed thoroughly, transfer it to another container.

To make mulch, just shred leaves and they are ready to use. Unlike compost, you do not need to do any treatments on it once placed in a bin.

Keeping your garden and backyard clean and your lawn looking perfectly manicured takes a lot of effort and time, and buying a lawn sweeper will probably be the best investment you will ever make in this respect.

What Type of Lawn Sweeper is Best?

While a lawn sweeper is not something that every homeowner needs to own, having a lawn sweeper makes easy work out of clearing the lawn of leaves and other debris.  Lawn sweepers are somewhat of a luxury because they are not used on a constant basis, but if you have a lawn that is covered with many leaves or a large lawn where the cleanup process is painstakingly time consuming, then a lawn sweeper can be a great garden tool to own, and one that saves you lots of time.

What exactly is a lawn sweeper, or a lawn leaf sweeper as it’s sometimes called?  It’s a device that is rolled or pushed along your lawn to sweep up leaves and other loose debris in order to clean up the lawn.  Lawn sweepers are similar to vacuum cleaners, but are used outdoors.  Just as you would push a vacuum cleaner along the carpet to remove any loose dirt or items, you can push or tow a lawn sweeper along the grass to pick up leaves, pine needles, loose grass, and other small objects.

lawn sweepers for leavesA lawn sweeper works by rotating a set of brushes along an axle while the device is moved across the lawn.  The brushes essentially sweep up any leaves or other small debris into a hopper.  The hopper contains the leaves until it fills up or you have completed the job, at which time you can empty it.  The sweeper will pick up most small items, but may not pick up larger or more difficult items such as pine cones or small twigs.  The shorter your lawn is cut and the flatter the surface you are pushing the lawn sweeper across, the easier it is for it to pick up loose items.

There are two main types of lawn sweepers – push lawn sweepers and tow behind lawn sweepers.  A push lawn sweeper is similar to a push lawnmower.  The operator of the lawn sweeper pushes it forward in order for it to move across the lawn and do its job.    There are push lawn sweepers that are manual and those that are automatic.  Manual push lawn sweepers require a bit of manpower to get them moving, while an automatic or powered lawn sweeper is self propelled, just like a self propelled lawn mower.  Tow behind lawn sweepers can be attached to a ride-on tractor or mower.   A tow lawn sweeper can be attached whenever needed or unattached when it is not.

Lawn sweepers can range in price from around $100 to hundreds of dollars, depending on whether the sweeper is a manual push model, an automatic model, or a tow model and what features it contains.  Different models contain different size hoppers and options.  One drawback to some lawn sweepers is that they are somewhat difficult to assemble after you bring them home, so when possible, it is best to find a retailer that will assemble it for you prior to purchase.

There are a number of companies that manufacture lawn sweepers and before purchasing one it is best to check out some lawn sweeper reviews to see which model will best suit your needs.  A lawn sweeper review should tell you the model, price range, positives and negatives of any features, ease of use and assembly, how large the hopper is, how wide the coverage is, as well as any other pertinent information that you may be interested in about lawn sweepers.  If you have an artificial lawn, you also want to make sure that the model of lawn sweeper you are considering will work well with the artificial surface.  Reviews are a great way to get an idea of which is the best lawn sweeper for you based on your specific type of lawn as well as your budget.

buy a lawn seeperSome models of lawn sweepers to consider are listed below.  You will see that a number of companies that make lawn mowers also offer models of lawn sweepers as well (and some companies that make vacuum cleaners also make lawn sweepers).  This list does not include every company that offers lawn sweepers, so there is a wide selection to choose from.

Lawn sweeper manufacturers:

  • Agri-Fab lawn sweepers
  • Parker lawn sweepers
  • Brinley Hardy lawn sweepers
  • Huskee lawn sweepers
  • Precision Products lawn sweepers
  • Yardwise lawn sweepers
  • Lambert lawn sweepers
  • Ranch King lawn sweepers
  • Ohio Steel lawn sweepers
  • Craftsman lawn sweepers
  • Hoover lawn sweepers
  • Oreck lawn sweepers
  • Swisher lawn sweepers
  • John Deere lawn sweepers

If you are looking for an easy way to clean up your lawn each fall or anytime a lot of leaves, grass, small twigs or other debris accumulate, then using a lawn sweeper can make the chore easier and can save you time.  Lawn sweepers are easier to use than leaf blowers.  The only thing to keep in mind is that you need a place to store your lawn sweeper when not in use, so make sure you have room in your garage, shed or other type of garden building.

mowing the grass

Your Lawn Simplified

EASY Lawn Care & Maintenance

Mowers, edgers, leaf-blowers. Sod, plug, aerate, de-thatch. Irrigate, seed, fertilize, weed.

Phew! Makes my head spin just thinking about the stuff you’re supposed to do to maintain a lawn, at least according to certain yard-care experts. If you follow the recommendations of lawn-care service companies, you can spend hundreds of dollars each year on your lawn.

Many people do exactly that, just because they think it’s necessary for a nice lawn.

Well, guess what? It’s not necessary. Okay, if you must have a picture perfect lawn that’s smooth, flat and green year-round like a golf course… well, that’s going to require some work.

However, if you’re like me and just want some nice, healthy grass, then the trick is to work… less. Yes, less!

In fact, everything you really need to know can be simplified down into three tips: 1. Mow less. 2. Lay off the chemicals and 3. Opt for low-maintenance landscaping.

Need more detail? Read on!

Lawn-care: why less is more

Like the soldier who opts for a buzz-cut because he needs a no-maintenance routine, many people mistakenly think that buzz-cutting their grass really short will make for a low-maintenance lawn.

Now, I know it seems tempting, but the secret to a low-maintenance lawn is to let it grow longer. Yes, really.

When grass is cut super-short, the thousands of individual little grass plants making up your lawn get stressed. They start working overtime to grow the blades back to a normal height.

If the blades are repeatedly mowed short, the plant eventually devotes all its resources to blade growth.

This makes for a weakened root system that’s too weak to withstand normal environmental stresses like periods of drought.

Unfortunately, this is the point at which homeowners can inadvertently make matters worse.

Seeing that the lawn is beginning to appear yellow or patchy, many reach for the weed-and-feed-type products.

However, a good dose of fertilizer forces the lawn into yet another growth surge, exhausting it even further.

At this point, it’s easy to get stuck in a never-ending — and costly — cycle of mowing and fertilizing, mowing and fertilizing.

Want to stop the madness?

Here are some simple lawn-care hints:

1. Mow less

Mow less often, maybe every couple of weeks in summer instead of every week. Second, mow high — set the lawnmower blades to the highest setting you can live with.

The rule of thumb is this: cut no more than one third of the leaf blade when you mow to avoid stressing the grass.

This should guide you in choosing a blade height, depending on which type of grass you have.

For example, my lawn here in north Florida is St. Augustine grass, which should be mowed high at three inches or more.

My neighbors all have St. Augustine grass lawns too, yet many of them cut much lower than three inches, stressing the lawn and creating bald, yellowing patches that become very visible when it’s hot and dry.

In comparison, my lawn looks fine year round and I do absolutely nothing to it other than mowing every couple of weeks during the summer months.

Can you live with a longer lawn? It takes a little getting used too, especially if you’re concerned about bucking a neighborhood trend.

That’s because a longer lawn looks lush and lovely on its own, but when it’s surrounded by ultra-clipped lawns it can look…well, a bit shaggy and unkempt in comparison.

Keeping the edges neat goes a long way, as does mowing the grass verge closest to the street a little lower than the rest.

One task you should not neglect is lawnmower servicing. Get your mower serviced regularly to ensure you’re mowing with a nice sharp blade. (Or sharpen the blade yourself if you know how.)

This produces a clean cut on the leaf blade, which is good for the health of the lawn. Dull blades, on the other hand, shred the grass blades, stressing the lawn.

2. Lay off the Chemicals

Many suburbanites are guilty of over-fertilizing their lawns, which contributes to the pollution of our waterways.

Please, please use fertilizer on your lawn only occasionally (once every one or two years is fine), and apply it conservatively.

Fertilize only during the early growing season. Finally, use a slow-release product for maximum long-term lawn health.

Skip the giant sacks of “weed and feed” products, which are a blend of fertilizer and herbicides. Herbicides should be used sparingly, on affected areas only. It’s a poison — why spread it all over your property?

Just because your lawn mower came with a clipping catcher doesn’t mean you have to use it! Leave grass clippings where they fall.

The blade tips will will break down and fertilize your lawn naturally. Why go to all that trouble of hauling and bagging clippings when they can do so much good for your lawn?

Another handy hint: make peace with the weeds, and don’t go looking for problems.

A few weeds here and there are not as noticeable to the neighbors as you might think. In fact, they are invisible from a distance.

Focus on encouraging healthy lawn growth. Weeds will never really take hold in a healthy lawn.

3. Low-maintenance Landscaping

Know when to give up on grass. Lawns will become high-maintenance when they’re planted in unsuitable locations. Lawn grasses typically need bright light and great soil.

Some areas of your yard may just not be the right place for lawn. If that’s the case, consider simply replacing some of it with something else.

In shady areas, such as under large evergreen trees, opt for shade-loving groundcovers.

What’s not to like about English Ivy or liriope?

They’re pretty and never, ever need mowing! Clover is an option, too, if you’re okay with lots of bees! You could also try turning part of your lawn into a wildflower meadow.

Hot, sunny slopes can be replanted with drought-hardy groundcovers like ornamental grasses, which come in many sizes from ankle-height (dwarf bamboo) to knee-high (fountain grass) to head-high (pampas grass).

Ornamental grasses are highly drought-tolerant, love sun, and look fabulous planted in clusters. Another sun-loving, no-maintenance groundcover is juniper. Once established, it looks great and stays green through the worst droughts.

Here are a few more tips that reduce the need for mowing: First, replace lawn in high-traffic areas with paths , mulch, stepping stones, or a combination of all three.

Second, mulch around trees to reduce the total area that needs mowing and raking, and to protect trees from mower collisions.

Third, create rounded edges on your garden beds to make mowing less labor-intensive. Fourth, edge your garden beds and paths, so you won’t need an edger.

Finally, remember that your county extension service may be able to offer free advice if you’re having problems. Enjoy your low-care lawn!

How To Tune Up A Lawn Mower

How To Tune Up A Lawn Mower

How To Tune Up A Lawn Mower Step by Step

If you’re like most people who have a decent sized yard, you probably own a lawn mower. Whether it’s a standard push mower, riding mower, or zero-turn; you’ll definitely have to maintain it to keep it in good working condition. Though most people aren’t necessarily certified mechanics, there are some basic tune-ups that can be performed by the average person.

Without these tune-ups; repairs are sure to follow. Lawn mower repair can be somewhat expensive, depending on the problem, but with just a few maintenance tricks you’ll be able to keep your mower in tip-top running conditions. Here are a few ways for maintaining or increasing the efficiency of your home mowing machine.

Changing The Oil, Filter, and Spark Plug

This is one of the most basic maintenance tips you can do yourself without having much stress. People are so focused on getting the job done as fast as possible that they tend to forget about adding oil to the mower. Oil is just as important, if not more important than the gasoline you put in it. Without oil your lawn mower’s engine will literally explode.

Make sure you dis-connect your lawn mower battery before ever working on your mower!

First thing you want to do is to loosen the air filter cover, which can be on the top or side depending on what brand you’re using. The cover should drop down and now you can pull the used air filter out. Before putting in the new one is to make sure the pleats/grooves is facing outward. Now just replace the cover and tighten up the cover screws. That’s it!

With a new filter in your mower it’ll run more efficiently because the air filter helps the engine breathe much better. Next tip is to change the oil. Though this may not be the cleanest job in the world, changing the oil is vital and if you don’t do this your engine will become a ticking time bomb. The first thing you want to do is to start the mower and let it run for a few minutes. This warms the oil up which will help it drain better.

Now you need to stop the engine so that you can remove the mower’s drain plug. The engine should be expelling the old oil and if necessary; tilt the mower back or to the side for expelling every drop. It may take a few minutes or so, but afterward you should replace the drain plug, then you should begin filling the mower with fresh, new oil. Last, but not lease; check your oil levels with a dipstick. Some mowers have oil fill holes that allows you visibility for checking oil levels.

Another great way to keep your mower running at full efficiency is to install new spark plugs. With so much commotion going on around you, most people often forget about the spark plugs.

With the engine turned off you should pull off the wire of the spark plug and remove the used plug. Tools needed can be a (deep socket 13/16 inch or 3/4 inch). If you have one, try using a standard spark plug wrench. Next you can hand turn the new spark plug until the threads catch within the grooves. Now you can use the ratchet/wrench to further plug in down, but don’t turn to hard. Turning or cranking down too hard causes most spark plugs to break.

*Tips and Ideas*

  • If the spark plug’s rusted tight, you can spray it with some penetrating lubricant. (WD-40) or (JB80) or (Liquid Wrench)
  • Before trying to loosen the rusted plug, let it soak in the penetrating liquid for about 10 minutes
  • Make sure that there is a gap between the overhanging arm and electrode.
  • Necessary tools for completion are 4-in-1 screw driver or ratchet/socket set

Every Spring you should do this. Tune-ups will extend your engines life, gives you better fuel efficiency, reduces repair costs, and is better for the environment as it reduces emissions as much as 50%. Most people do tune-ups about twice per year so it’s a good idea to buy an extra spark plug, extra air filter, and more engine oil. And keep your mower clean and blades sharp as well. Like the old saying goes:

An Ounce of Prevention Is Better Than A Pound of Cure

How To Use A Zero Turn Mower

How To Use A Zero Turn Mower

One of the most popular ways of doing landscaping in the 21st Century is with a Zero Turn Mower. These mowers are bigger, stronger, and more efficient than a standard lawn mower. Also known as zero turn radius, these mowers are very agile and decreases the total amount of time while working which is a big plus. They’re commonly operated for commercial use, but many people happen to own these special pieces of equipment.

Here’s a shortcut to Amazon’s most popular ZTR mowers

The main thing about zero turn mowers is that in order for them to be as efficient as they can be, they must be properly operated much more so than a standard riding mower. This is a large piece of equipment and can be very dangerous if used in a naive manner. If you own a zero turn mower or you’re thinking of purchasing one, there are some rules and regulations you’ll need to follow for achieving that lush, golf course lawn look.

1. Comprehending What Zero Turn Radius Really Means: For starters this could be like trying to learn a new language. Unlike you’re regular riding mowers, a zero turn mower’s drive wheels turn independently giving them a much wider range of motion. It’s kind of like an elbow joint compared to a shoulder joint.

Standard mowers have more of a hinged back & forth motion while the shoulder zero turn has a shoulder’s round & round motion. Each axle is powered by a hydraulic motor which allows each side of the unit to turn in opposite directions. This action truly causes the mower to spin.

2. Select The Proper Mower: This couldn’t be more practical and if you have a really small yard that’s probably less than a few hundred square feet, a zero turn mower would be a waste of hard earned money.

If you have a medium to large sized yard, an 18 horse-power torque mower with at least a 40 inch cutting path is big enough.Unless you’re trying to portray a certain image or ” trying to keep up with the joneses, ” stick with a standard mower which will take care of all your landscaping needs.

3. Read Your Owner’s Manual: Even though some mowers come with a quick start guide for cutting right out of the box, you’ll definitely have to learn the basics and features of this machine. Quick Start Guides will not cover a large enough portion of material to firmly get a grip with this unit.

4. Read and Get Familiar With The Operational Controls: It’s like the old saying, “never bring a knife to a gun fight” rings true in-a-sense. No amount of studying can properly school you for what you’ll be using. Hands-on training is much better and easier than a paper manual though each ways are extremely better than jumping on the zero turn with your eyes wide shut. Check out some of the main control of a zero turn:

  • Fuel and Oil Gauge
  • Ignition Switch For Starting The Mower
  • Mower Clutch For Engaging The Blades
  • Deck Adjustment For Raising and Lowering The Blade
  • Examine The Tires ( Critical of The Mowers Turning Ability)
  • Steering Arm -Which Replaces The Steering Wheel
  • Check The Belts and Pulleys

5. Find An Open Location To Practice Your Movements: This action is to not actually cut the grass, but more so just for practicing and getting familiar with the movements. Gripping the handles, steering, backing-up, adjustments for your body type, engaging the clutch, and brakes. It’s very important to take your time and practice for a few days before beginning your lawn work.

6. Cut Your Own Lawn First: It’s just proper etiquette and also common sense to experiment on your own yard first. Do it multiple times before attempting to tackle someone else’s residence.

Now you should have everything down to a science. Respecting this machine and it’s capabilities will help you to become the most efficient landscaper you can be.

Clean lawn mower

How to Clean a Lawn Mower

Lawn mowers are expensive machines that need careful maintenance in order to keep working over a long period of time. Use the steps mentioned below to give your lawn mower a thorough cleaning and help prolong their work life:

Preparation:

Bring the mover out into an open, clean and dry area. Wear old or second hand clothes that won’t be ruined by dirt and grease. Make sure you have all the tools handy such as a hose, buckets, brushes, screwdriver, pliers as well as any spare parts that need to be replaced or cleaned and put back in the mower.

Execution:

1. Unplug the mower from its electrical outlet and drain the fuel out of the machine. Make sure the water does not reach the outlets to avoid short circuits.

2. Use a broom to brush the motor at the start. This won’t remove the hardened grime, but will loosen most of the surface dirt, which can be swept away and disposed of right from the beginning. Use a smaller brush to attend to the inside of the mower from various angles.

3. Use your gloved hand to examine the machine’s crevasses more closely, and brush or rub away the harder sticking dirt clumps with your hand. Your hand will allow you to have a far more intimate understanding of the nature of dirt that surrounds the mower and which needs to be removed.

4. Turn the mower on its side and remove any grass, leaves and other debris that can be found wrapped around the blade.

5. Scrub the visible portions of the machine with a soft brush using soapy water. Take care not to scratch the surfaces by applying too much pressure on the brush.

6. Hose the lawn mower down thoroughly and allow the water to reach the difficult spots inside the machinery that need to be cleaned.

7. Bring out the air filer attached to the machine and give it a thorough cleaning. Make sure you remove all the dust particles by using a blowing machine or using your mouth.

8. Replace the spark plug at regular intervals of using the machine, since it gets worn out quickly.

9. Take out the blade of the mower and get the blades sharpened, since dull blades do not allow the mower to do it’s job properly.

10. Take out the catcher and give it a good hosing to remove leaves and grass particulate.

11. Oil the parts of the machine that need oiling and ensure that the entire system functions smoothly.

Tips:

1. Keep checking the blower and muffler areas of the lawn mower for collecting dirt and grime.

2. Keeping mowers in storage often leaves rodents and other small animals to build nests inside that can cause problems.

3. Perform a quick cleanup for the mower after every cutting session to reduce extra work during extended cleaning sessions.

4. Keep a brush and cleaning cloth close to the place where the mower is stored to encourage future use.

5. Always wait till the engine has cooled down before beginning cleaning operations to avoid getting burnt.

Precautions:

1. Take great care not to cut your hand while cleaning the blades.

2. Make sure the machine is disconnected before cleaning it.

3. Keep track of the smaller parts of the machines and keep them in a box to keep from losing them.

4. Wear old clothes or overalls to avoid getting oil on new clothes.

5. Make sure any cleaning fluids you use do not cause corrosion of the metal.

6. Avoid storing the mower in an open space where it can be attacked by the harsh forces of nature.

boy pile of leaves

Best Backpack Leaf Blower

Finding the BEST Backpack Leaf Blower for Any Use

Backpack leaf blowers can be easier to use than handheld leaf blowers as they will reduce stress on the body and allow you to get more work done providing you with more control.

With comfortable straps around the shoulders and hip it will make it easy to get a lot of work done within a short period of time without putting stress on the body. Here are some of the best backpack leaf blowers you will find.

Strongest Motor for A Long Lasting Blower

The Husqvarna 965877502 Backpack Leaf Blower is carb compliant and is sold in all 50 states. It comes with a 50.2cc 2.1hp XTorq engine for added power. It weighs 22.5 pounds and you can set the speed in accordance to the amount of work that needs to be done up to 180 mph.

It operates quietly at 104 dba and it produces 60 percent less emissions than other leaf blowers. It comes with a two year warranty. With a ventilated and load reducing harness you get less stress put upon your shoulders and hips. Consumers like how there is no vibration and how quiet it runs. They feel it is well made and will last a long time. This is definitely one of the best leaf blowers for home use available today.

Quietest Backpack Blower

The Echo PB580T Backpack Blower is lightweight at 23 pounds and is among the quietest on the market at 70 dba. It has an air volume of 510 cfm and its maximum air speed is 215 mph. It comes with a 58.2cc engine for added power.

It’s easy to maneuver with its straps and hip belt. Consumers like how effective it is in removing leaves and its high quality.

Easiest Start Up Blower

The Troy Bilt TB4BPEC Backpack Blower has a jumpstart technology that delivers an easy start up process. It operates at 150 mph and has padded shoulders straps and a hip belt that is able to reduce most of the stress put on your body. Its air volume is 500 cfm and it has a long tube that is flexible allowing easy maneuvering.

It’s lightweight at 22 pounds and it comes with a two year limited warranty. With its quick start technology you don’t have to ever worry about it not starting. It is ergonomic and compact in size for easy moving around with it strapped on. This blower distributes the weight evenly and it comes with a 32cc 4 cycle engine. Consumers like its easy set up and operation.

Most Environmentally Friendly Gas Blower

The Makita BBX 7600N Backpack Blower comes with a strong 75.6cc four stroke engine and runs quietly at 74 dba. It’s lightweight at 23 pounds and has an air volume of 526 cfm. It runs 195 mph and is considered fuel efficient. With padded shoulder straps and a ventilation, this backpack is comfortable to wear.

It meets both the EPA and carb compliance for it to be sold in all 50 states. Its emissions evaporates and is good for the environment. It comes with a one year warranty. Consumers like how fuel efficient and powerful it is. They feel it is well worth the money.

High Powered Air Speed Leaf Blower

Best Backpack Leaf BlowerThe Husqvarna 150BT Gas Powered Backpack Blower is lightweight at less than 23 pounds and is carb compliant so it is able to be sold in all 50 states. It’s environmentally friendly and comfortable to wear with its ventilated backpack.

It comes with a 50.2cc 2 cycle XTorq engine and operates at up to 250 mph to remove some of the toughest stuck on leaves with ease. Consumers love the power behind this backpack and how easy it is to use.

All of these backpack blowers satisfy the average person’s needs with various features from being quiet to delivering high air speed or a strong motor. It’s important to get a blower that is environmentally friendly while being able to remove stuck on leaves with ease.

There’s a wide variety of commercial backpack leaf blowers on the market. Before you purchase, take a moment to learn what options are available and compare them to your needs. Backpack blowers offer the advantage of being able to carry it around on your body rather than having to hold the entire machine.

See more popular backpack leaf blowers here

You’ll want to make sure the blower you choose is powerful enough to handle anything you plan to throw at it. With so many choices available, remember to keep an eye out for things such as safety, weight, economy and power.

Feature of the Best Commercial Backpack Blowers

  • Easy to reach on and off switch. This not only adds to convenience it’s also a wise safety feature that will enable you to cut the power off in a hurry if needed.
  • Easy to fill gas tank. The tank should have a wide opening to reduce spills when you’re refueling. A clear tank or easy to read indicator can save time by letting you know when gas is low at a glance.
  • A choice of nozzle attachments. A machine that comes with a flat tip for sweeping leaves and a round tip for dislodging stubborn ones is a good choice.
  • Variable throttle for adjusting the power output. You want a blower that lets you lessen the power of the blower when you’re cleaning around flower beds and increase the power for clearing lawns, driveways or roofs.

By carefully comparing features to your needs, you’re sure to make a wise purchasing decision.  Here are two of the best commercial backpack blowers.

Best Commercial Blower under $500

With a 4 stroke 75.6cc fuel efficient engine, this Makita BBX 7600N Backpack Blower it gives excellent commercial-duty performance. The blower utilizes a clear-burn 4-stroke motor that delivers long runtimes while producing less noise/vibration for quiet operation.

The BBX7600 is capable of heavy-duty air velocities up to 195miles-per-hour and can deliver superb air volumes of up to 526 cubic-feet-per-minute.  It is a super-lightweight backpack only 22.6 pounds and comes with wide straps for complete user comfort.

Users were impressed with the decompression system, so start-up’s a breeze while the easy access to oil fill port and drain plug made maintenance hassle-free. Many customers agreed it exceeded their expectations and was worth the price for a monster of a blower.

Best Value Commercial Blower

This Husqvarna XTorq 560BTS Gas Powered Backpack Blower is commercially designed with a 65.6cc 2-stroke X-torq, gas-powered engine. It is capable of an astounding 232 miles-per-minute airspeed while minimizing exhaust emissions and maintaining overall fuel-efficiency.

Additional features include the 2-stage intake air filter and a side-vented frame, so the operator can have long runtimes despite dusty environments. The ergonomic handle makes for smooth and versatile movement while the comfortable shoulder straps make it easy to carry for long periods.

Users called this commercial backpack blower a workhorse, saying it outperformed their previous packs and completed their jobs in record times. Customers said the assembly was quick and painless, getting setup completed in as little as 15 minutes.

When searching for a commercial backpack blower, the best qualities usually include dependability, durability, and great performance.