It's only been just over a hundred fifty years since grass was cut with a hand scythe - if it was cut at all. That was about the extent of lawn care then. Now, there are a dozen tools - some hand, some power, that are considered essential for keeping that green carpet in shape.
A lawnmower is the most basic. It's odd to think of a living organism as needing to be sliced to stay healthy, but as a professional gardener acquaintance once said 'Grass likes to be cut'. To accomplish that, a good lawnmower is a necessity. Though among the more expensive items in the toolset, if maintained well it will last forever.
Keep the blade sharp, the spark plug clean and (if it has one) the air filter changed. Change the oil as you would on a car, every season.
Keeping the lawn neat is almost always a matter that can't be completely carried out just by mowing, though. A trimmer or edger is needed. The two basic types are the old-fashioned two-blade model with a long handle. Running the blade alongside patio bricks, steps and other edges keeps the lawn trim and looking good.
The other type is a powered whirling device that shoots a plastic string out a few inches. The string whacks off grass or other plants wherever you aim it. They're lightweight, inexpensive and can last for years, though the coil of plastic string needs to be replaced every couple of months. At a cost of only a few dollars, it saves a lot of effort.
A spreader or two is vital for evenly laying out fertilizer, weed killer and other compounds that help keep the lawn weed-free, healthy and looking great. One sort is like a small lawnmower with no blade, just a tub with small holes and a roller that dispense material. Easy to use and long-lasting, they're adjustable for a variety of applications.
The second type of spreader is a hand-held unit, usually plastic with a rotary handle. They're perfect for specialized applications of seed for patching small lawn areas, distributing dry fertilizer beads and so forth.
A rake is handy for more than just piling up leaves in the late fall. Though it's important to use for that. Leaves left on the grass can cause it to overheat or get too little water. In areas that get winter snow, at the end of the season, the grass will be compressed into thatch.
Blades will overlay one another, preventing air from reaching the soil efficiently. De-thatching can be done with a power tool, but a simple hand rake is also effective.
A long fork or narrow blade, long-handled shovel spade is great for spot removal of weeds. The larger square or rounded shovel will also be needed though for posthole-digging, transferring soil and plants and a dozen other tasks around the yard.
Stock up on the basics, keep them in good shape and all your lawn care jobs will be easier. Well, easier than cutting with a scythe, that's for sure.
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