HOW TO: OUTFIT YOUR LANDSCAPE TOOLBOX

Being prepared for whatever task develops can prevent delays. So if you're maintaining flowerbeds for any of your clients, you can assemble a toolbox that include everything you might potentially need to get the job done. Okay, you probably have many of the items discussed below, but if we can add one or two more tools to make your job easier and more efficient, it'll save you time.

  1. Pruning equipment. Pack quality bypass pruners of the proper weight and size to fit your hand. Heavy hand pruners hasten fatigue. Include an additional pair of mini loppers and loppers to tackle slightly larger jobs. A folding pruning saw with reliable lock is also useful. Folding saws with a latch and hook or button seem safer than the type with the tightening screw for the lock.

  2. Gloves. Depending upon your preference, you may keep more than one type in your toolbox. The rubber coated, cloth gloves are nice for many tasks, but you may need tougher leather gloves or gloves that permit more dexterity. It would be nice if you could purchase packages of left-handed gloves (or right-handed, depending on your situation) to replace the ones lost. Somewhere there is a mountain of same-handed gloves, probably located next to the mountain of missing socks.

  3. Sunscreen, insect repellent and poison-ivy-prevention towelettes. You may not need all of these every time out, but you'll be sorry if you need them and don't have them. There are towelettes for poison ivy prevention that you apply prior to working in the landscape and separate ones for cleansing if you know you have been exposed.

  4. Trowel, weed digger and forked cultivator. Don't skimp on this equipment. Choose a trowel that works for your hand — I prefer a narrow blade with inch markings on the blade. When planting bulbs and annual plugs, you don't want to use a wide-bladed trowel that forces you to move more soil than needed, leading to fatigue. Most hand trowels are 12 inches long, with the handle and blade each being 6 inches long, handy for spacing. Your weed digger should be strong enough to handle some pressure. I prefer a cultivator with equal spacing and length of tines, but don't find those as often as the varied-tine cultivators. They are especially good for finding noxious weed roots, if manual control is necessary.

  5. Chisel and small axe. Choose a chisel small enough to isolate and cut girdling roots without damaging the nearby trunk and roots. You can use the axe to cut larger items and also as the hammer for your chisel. The chisel can also help pry dirt clods off your boots.

  6. Hand broom for cleaning up small or hard to reach areas.

  7. Hot pepper wax when your plants are being nibbled by varmints.

  8. Small roll of twine or a bungee cord and lastly a notepad and pencil sealed in a plastic bag.

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