Except for those who are calling in a pro, there's bound to be some type of yard care in homeowners' futures this spring and summer.
Cutting the grass, trimming the hedges and even planting a few plants require a few simple tools of the trade. Making sure that items such as mowers, hedge trimmers and small hand tools are in the best shape will help make quicker and more effective work of yard tasks.
"Ideally, the best time to clean your gardening tools is at the end of fall season," said Jack Endres, of Ace Hardware in Evans. "That way, your tools are all ready to go in the spring."
For those who skipped this step and went straight to hibernating from such gardening duties, it's not too late to do it. Endres says there are just a few steps needed.
Just as cars need tuneups, so do lawn mowers.
"Change the oil and check the spark plug," Endres said. "Also, be sure to empty any old gas that may have sat up all winter."
Jim Cotton, the owner of The Saw Shop in Harlem, had more advice.
"Sharpening the blade is the most important thing you can do for the mower," he said. "You might also need to change the air filter and check the tires."
"Obviously, a sharp mower blade will make better cuts, but it's also necessary for the types of grass we have in this area," Endres said.
Though the mower might be the most commonly used yard tool, Endres and Cotton both advise sharpening the blade on hedge trimmers, small hand tools and even weed trimmers.
Master gardener Sharyn Altman readily admits that cleaning and taking care of her tools is not high on her to-do list. What she has learned is that sometimes unconventional tools get the job done best.
"We live on 1.2 acres on the Richmond-Columbia County line on Stevens Creek Road, and we have rocks the size of tennis balls in our yard, not to mention some hard dirt," she said.
"Years ago, I bought a quality shovel and took it to a welder. The handle was left intact, but the bottom of the tool was made into three very sharp points that look like shark teeth," she said. "And they tackle those problem areas of our yard very well."
Altman says there's one other thing that makes hauling her tools easier.
When gardening, "I drive a golf cart to carry my tools. My husband had a gun rack mounted on the rear of the cart, and it makes it so easy to haul things around," she said.
"Rather than carrying guns, I carry yard tools," Altman said. "You just learn to adapt to things and do whatever works."
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