Easier Landscaping With Gardening Gadgets and Gizmos
Paul James shares his favorites among new hand tools and gardening gadgets.
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Master gardener Paul James reveals gardening gadgets and gizmos sure to make improving your landscape a little easier:
This curious but dandy device is a combination shovel, scoop, rake and fork. In fact, James says it's one of the cleverest tools he's come across in years. The nylon tines make it nearly indestructible yet extremely lightweight. This all-in-one-tool is particularly effective for working organic mulches of all kinds because it allows you to scoop the mulch into beds, spread it around, rake it and even fluff it when necessary. It also works great for turning compost and raking and picking up leaves.
Take a load off with this cool new garden seat that not only makes gardening easier but fun. What makes this seat so effective is its curved base, which rocks as you bend, stoop and stretch, thereby reducing strain on the lower back while playing around in the garden. For a perfect fit, the seat comes equipped for height adjustment. And because the chair weighs next to nothing, it's easy to tote around from one spot to another.
"Up next is a handy gizmo for those of you like me who enjoy growing plants in hanging baskets, but don't necessarily like the look of conventional plastic containers," says James. It's a hand-forged wrought iron hanger made especially for terra-cotta pots.
All you do is put the base end of the hanger through the drainage hole of any 8" to 12" terra-cotta pot. Then place the washer over the hole. Attach a decorative brass finial to secure the post in place. Simply fill the pot with some potting mix, plop in a plant or two, add a bit more potting mix and hang the pot wherever you want.
"One more thing that I should point out about this gizmo: You don't want to tighten the finial all the way," warns James. "If you do, the pot won't drain properly, and the plants may rot." If you don't want to use the hanger for plants, James suggests using it to create a dandy bird feeder.
To create the birdfeeder, drill a hole in the center of a terra-cotta saucer and push the hanger base through the hole. Add the washer and finial to secure the hanger in place. Fill the saucer with birdseed and hang it wherever you want.
"Although it does help warm the soil and control weeds, I don't like using black plastic as a mulch because once it's there, it's there forever," says James. Well, at least for a hundred years or so, after all, plastic isn't biodegradable, but there is this excellent alternative. This new 100-percent biodegradable film, made from cornstarch, functions just like black plastic yet completely disappears in the soil within 90 days. According to James, you can use this material just as you would regular black plastic. You can even till it into the soil or toss it into the compost pile. And as if all that weren't enough, it's even approved for use in organic gardening and farming by no less an authority than the Norwegian government.
"I plant a lot of bulbs, so I'm always on the lookout for new bulb planting tools," James says, "and here's the latest — it's a spring-loaded gadget that simultaneously digs the planting hole and removes the dirt in one fell swoop." To plant bulbs, simply stab the tool into the soil, squeeze the three-fingered pulley, and you've got a perfect planting hole. "I must say that this baby works pretty well, however, as is the case with all bulb planting tools, it works best in light, fluffy soils." If you've got hard-packed clay soils, James suggests using a trowel, which may work even better and faster for those conditions.
They're made especially for water garden maintenance, and as you can see, they're designed to keep you dry — from your fingertips to your shoulders. And a cotton lining helps make them comfortable to wear. The elastic band at the top of the gauntlet keeps the gloves from slipping down your arms as you work. These gloves are resistant to most garden chemicals, as well.
Try putting one of the latest garden gadgets and gizmos to use in your landscape.
rocker seat, pond gloves and Pik Stik back saver - Charley's Greenhouse and Garden
bulb planting tool and blue gloves - A. M. Leonard
mulch film - Gardener's Supply Co.