A neatly trimmed lawn surrounded by carefully curated flowers, shrubs, and trees may be the portrait of American middle class success today, but placing import on a well-maintained property is hardly anything new. And we’re not talking about 1950s America, either. In fact, if you went back many hundreds of years, you’d find castles and manors all over Europe surrounded by painstakingly maintained fields of low-cut grass referred to in Old English as “laundes.”
Laundes weren’t for looks, though: They were for lookouts. A cleared area around a fortress home allowed for a clear view of anyone approaching, especially those coming with the intention of siege, pillage, or whatnot.
By the 1600s, short grass lawns and manicured plantings surrounding houses of the wealthy had come to be status symbols, not tactics. And as Europeans moved across the pond to America, many species of plants — including grasses — came with them as colonists attempted to re-create the lives they had known back home.
By the end of the 180os, with a growing middle class and the advent of affordable push-operated mechanical mowers, something much like the suburban property you know today was taking shape in America.
But enough with the past, today we’re here to talk about the latest and greatest lawn care, landscaping, and gardening tools you can use to make your work in the yard as efficient, easy, and enjoyable as possible so you have more time to appreciate your property. Because sure, scythes and sheep work well enough for keeping grass shorn, but wouldn’t you rather have a self-propelled battery-powered 22-inch lawn mower that can chop its way through a 15,000-plus square foot yard on a single charge? Yeah, so would that 17th-century lesser baron, but he didn’t have Home Depot.
Here are six tools the modern man (or woman) needs to make yard work less work.
If you think electric lawnmowers are weak, then you’re living in the past. The relatively recent past, to be fair, as the first few generations of electric mowers were pretty gentle compared to their piston-powered forebears. This self-propelled, steel-decked, full-sized lawn mower is ready to chop up those past misconceptions, and it’s also ready to mulch or bag about a third of an acre on a single charge. The mower can crawl or trot, as it were, with several speed setting options, and it handles hills just fine. And for all the power of this 60-volt powerhouse, it’s pretty quiet, and it folds up for upright storage on about two square feet of garage floor.
A gasoline-powered leaf blower can produce well over 100 decibels. Most gas powers operate at around 90 decibels. And according to the CDC, prolonged exposure to noise levels of 80 decibels or more may damage your hearing. So cut a solid 24 decibels out by using a pair of 3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protectors any time you are doing loud work out there. Why these over so many other options for hearing protectors? Oh, because these are Bluetooth-equipped and have high fidelity speakers that provide audio quality so good you might use them as your headphones even when you’re not working in the yard. And don’t worry if a call comes through, there’s a built-in mic, too.
You know the old adage about how you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight, right? Well there’s also no need to go to the nuclear option every time, either. For any brambles or branches smaller than about two inches in diameter, this compact handheld chainsaw will chop through in seconds and with markedly less risk than a chainsaw causes to any but an expert operator. Kickback — when a chainsaw jumps upward and back toward the user, and usually the face part of the user — is basically a non-issue with this little saw thanks to the shape of the top cover. And because it’s lightweight and uses a pistol grip, proper positioning and precise cutting are easy, adding more safety and allowing you to create the cuts you want.
What’s the absolute best weed killer? That’s right, fire! But that also kills the grass and gets the authorities involved. The second best route is to keep a lawn so healthy that weeds can’t even take root. And one of the best ways to do that without using a whole lot of chemicals that will likely shorten your lifespan is to use lawn care nutrients selected specifically for your lawn by the team at Sunday. No, seriously, for your lawn. First, you fill out a survey that covers things like lot size and local climate, the current health of your grass, and your level of expertise with lawn care. Then they send you a mixture of nutrients to spray over your grass using a hose. But also included in that first shipment is a soil sample test. You take a sample, send it back to Sunday, and they analyze your property to find specific nutrient deficiencies. The next box you get has (naturally derived) fertilizing spray that’s even better suited to your grass. Keep it up for a while and watch the grass thrive and the weeds die off.
Not quite ready to have in-ground lawn sprinklers installed in the grass or a hard-lined drip system for the shrubs or garden yet you’re tired of dragging the sprinkler or drip house around and manually turning on the spigot all the time? Well, there’s an app for that. And a paired piece of smart hardware. The B-Hyve Smart Hose Watering Timer connects to your home’s Wi-Fi and lets you set up multiple watering programs or turn on (or off) the spigot at any time from anywhere using your smartphone. The system makes it easy to water more when it’s hot, less when it rains, or to hilariously soak unwitting friends or family members as you watch from a safe distance.
OK, these gloves aren’t actually modern or high-tech or anything like that. Like not at all. In fact, the company is 100 years old this year, and its $100 goatskin leather gloves are decidedly old school in look. But when something has been perfected, you don’t try to upgrade it. (Looking at your, gilded lilies!) These gloves, which come in multiple sizes so you can be assured of the right fit, are comfortable from the first wearing and only get better as they break in. Exterior seams allow for comfort and dexterity while reinforced fingertips mean the gloves outlast competitors by a factor of two. So yeah, old school and expensive, but that’s the way some things should be.
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