Archive for ‘tools’

May 23, 2011

The Grand Canyon

I have always heard there is a tool for every job.  Finding the right tool can be a challenge for someone like me, an amateur gardener who sometimes shies away from power tools.  In my mind, power tools mean a loss of situational control and potential catastrophe.  I am new at gardening and have yet to strike the balance between being too reckless and too careful.  I can’t help myself.  I prune shrubs with a pair of hand snips; clipping one branch at a time, occasionally stepping back before proceeding to survey the results, just to make sure I don’t mess up the shape of the shrub.  I prefer a rake, which is far less noisy and can make raking a little more “zen” than a leaf-blower. However, there are times when you need a good old-fashioned gas-fueled engine to get the job done and get it done right.  For someone like me, it takes a few lessons in sweat and frustration to get the message through.

Two weeks ago Saturday, the big task of the day was to deal with the flower beds.  A major problem had been a lack of definition between bed and lawn, and it was a constant battle with the invading grass.  Last year, I decided to attack the problem by digging a shallow trench between the two.  The idea was to create a hard edge on the grass side, and a smooth “hill” on the bed side.  The results were disastrous.  Everything started out well, but the further I got, the more unevenly and deeper I dug. I ended up with the Grand Canyon, with edges that went straight down on both sides.  I tried piling mulch along the bed to help disguise the mean, hard edge, but it wasn’t long before this mask would all fall to the bottom of the Canyon, exposing the ugly reality of my failure.  To make matters worse, moss started spouting up along the Canyon walls.

Before. Ew, that's disgusting!

I finally discovered that I could rent a little machine called a bed edger.  It is about as big as a lawn mower but unlike a lawn mower, you pull it towards you instead of pushing it ahead of you.  As you pull it along, it digs a 4″ trench and pushes the dirt out onto the bed side, creating a nice, smooth mound.

Who knew it could be this easy?!

It also allowed me to create curved lines and to finally erase the giant rectangle I had originally dug down the side of the house.  The design principle I followed when I first created that bed years ago, consisted of rolling out a tube of weed barrier cloth.  The cloth was 36″ wide and so, voilà…the bed was 36″ wide!

Just look at those curves!

I even created a new bed in the process...

It didn’t take long; the job was complete and the edger returned in under 2 hours.  I spent the rest of the afternoon tidying up the beds, removing grass and adding fresh mulch.

No more Grand Canyon

%d bloggers like this: