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Tools To Spruce Up Your Lawn

A soldier picks up seized bullets during a presentation to the media in Tijuana, Mexico, Tuesday, June 16, 2009.
AP Photo/Guillermo Arias
As the first flowers of spring bloom across the country, homeowners are beginning to focus on the type of care their lawns and gardens will need this year.

The plan of action for each home will be different, yet, everyone needs the same basic gardening tools. Lipford has compiled a few of the newer garden tools designed to make yard work easier:

Ames Cutting Tools

Traditionally, cutting tools can be heavy to use, hard on the arms, hands, and back, and, depending on a person's reach, they're even hard on the neck muscles.

New ergonomically designed tools are lighter in weight and easier on the muscles; and in some cases have padded grips that protect the hands.

Ames FreshCut – Pruner

This lasts longer because it has a replaceable blade. Cuts are made easily because the blade requires less cutting force. Extra blades are stored inside the handle compartment.

Retails for between $19.95 and $24.95.

Ames True Temper True Cut Performance Cutting Tools - Bypass Lopper & Hedge Sheer

This line of cutters consists of tools positioned as a mid-range tool line, all with special features. The bypass lopper and hedge sheer have padded grip handles that provide for a comfortable cutting action. Also in this line of tools are the: Anvil Pruner; Deluxe Anvil Pruner; Deluxe Bypass Pruner; Grass Shear; Hedge Sheer with Bumper and Lopper with Bumper.

Tools available at:

Ames True Temper,
P.O. Box 1774, Parkersburg, WV 26102 (or locate the nearest Ames True Temper retailer)

Planting Auger

Flowers that sprout from bulbs are often beautiful. Yet, the hours of knee bending, backbreaking digging is enough to take the joy out of the whole planting experience. Enter a new essential tool to take the pain away: The Planting Auger is the answer to those who need to plant plugs, bulbs, and seedlings with the help of a power drill.

The extended shaft of the auger fits into the chuck (the mouth piece) of the drill - the screw around the chuck is then tightened to hold the auger in place. The extended shaft means less stooping so planting is easier on the back. The design makes fertilizing roots easier as well. The device is of durable steel construction and has a rust-proof finish. Retails for $24.95 plus shipping and handling.

Available at Best Buds Garden Supply Company. Please call 877-777-2837 (toll free).

Homelite Trimm N' Hedge
When it comes to trimming hedges and grass, homeowners no longer have to choose between the comfort and control of a cordless trimmer or the power of a gas-powered trimmer.

The Homelite Trimm N' Hedge 18- volt cordless combo kit provides all the power a homeowner needs. The models include both, an 18-volt cordless string trimmer and an 18-volt cordless hedge trimmer, one hour charger and two battery packs. Both tools are lightweight and ergonomically designed.

The string trimmer features a multi-length boom that adjusts to fit any member of the family. The device has a lock-off switch to prevent accidental start-ups.

The hedge trimmer has dual-action 18-inch replaceable blades, operating at 1200 cuts per minute to quickly shape shrubs and hedges. The dual action dramatically reduces vibration and user fatigue.
Homelite Trimm N' Hedge retails for $99.

Available at Home Depot, homelite.com or 800-525-2579 (toll free).

Robomower

For those who care NOT to mow, one of the newest concepts around is the robotic lawnmower.
The Robomower RL500 by FriendlyRobotics is fully automatic and is comparable in price to conventional walk-behind mowers. The product is billed as one that enables the homeowner to spend more free time with family and friends, instead of pushing a lawnmower around the yard.

Robomower runs on a cordless rechargeable electric pack and provides a 21-inch wide cut without the loud noise or gas fumes of conventional mowers (the charge lasts about 24-hours). It's operation is assisted by a perimeter line which is connected to a 4.5 volt power source. The perimeter line helps the mower gauge where it should move. The mower has three steel blades that mulch the grass so there's no need to bag. It also has six settings to adjust the cutting height of the grass anywhere from 1.5 to 3.5 inches. The Robomower will cut grass on slopes in much the same way as a conventional lawnmower. Replacement blades (a three-pack) costs $39.95.

Robomower retails for $499.95.

Available at friendlyrobotics.com or 888-404-7626.

Lawn Mower Maintenance Tips

While lawn mowers often sit idle for five months before they're used following spring, the key to a great looking lawn is to keep the mower in tip-top shape. Sixty-six million households in the U.S. have lawnmowers, yet, 40-million "don't" perform any maintenance. A well-maintained lawnmower does the following:

Reduces emissions up to 50 percent
Reduces fuel consumption up to 31 percent
Restores horsepower up to 7.5 percent
Extends equipment life

Engine Care

OIL: CHECK REGULARLY. Fill to mark on dipstick. Do not overfill. Change oil after first five hours of use, then after every 50 hours or at the beginning of the season. Changing the oil keep the engine lubricated and ensures clean oil is continuously distributed to critical engine components, reducing friction and wear and tear.

SPARK PLUG - Replace and clean the spark plug every season or after 100 hours of use. Replacing the spark plug in spring ensures a consistent spark, making starting more reliable and improving fuel usage over time.

FUEL - Use fresh, lead-free gas and store in a clean container. Adding a fuel stabilizer improves starting by preventing idle gasoline from degrading to a point where it is no longer combustible.

AIR FILTER - Change air filters at least every three months or after 25 hours of use.

BLADES - Periodically inspect the blade for wear or damage and have it professionally sharpened at least once annually; do not leave the blades engaged on riding mowers or tractors while the mower is stopped - this stretches the belt and decreases belt life.

KEEP THINGS CLEAN - Remove any dirt or caked-on grass from under the mover deck that might interfere with the blade (DO NOT USE YOUR HANDS FOR THIS JOB); squirt vegetable oil cooking spray under the deck to reduce clipping build-up and to prevent rust; keep dirt and debris off the engine and mower deck to avoid overheating; always store equipment in a sheltered area to prevent water in the fuel and rust on the frame.

For more about Danny Lipford, visit his Web site at dannylipford.com.