When choosing tools for mowing, edging, repairing, aerating, and topdressing, durability is an important factor, along with ease of maintenance, convenience, and safety features. Select the right type of equipment for the size of your lawn:
Small Lawns -- Under 4,000 square feet
Homeowners can accomplish most of these maintenance jobs with a small assortment of hand tools. If you prefer the quiet and enjoy the exercise, hand tools also will save money. A manual mower, broadcast seeder, edger, and aerating tool work just fine. Use a lawn rake to spread organic material for topdressing in the fall or spring, and use hand grass clippers to clean up weedy patches along walls and fences.
Medium Lawns -- 4,000 to 10,000 square feet
Hand tools just aren't enough for this size of lawn. A powered rotary mulching mower is faster, and a self-propelled version is easier. Fall mowings with this type of mower also provide your lawn with an organic topdressing -- chopped leaves -- if you have deciduous trees on your property.
Large Lawns -- Over 10,000 square feet
More sophisticated equipment is require for this size. A large powered rotary mulching mower can do the job, but a riding mower may be more appropriate. The powered core-aerator, edger, and weed trimmer are essential.
For ease in storage, look for spreaders that will hang on a wall.
Seed or granular is broadcasted in a wide, circular pattern. When you push the spreader, a spinner -- under the hopper that holds the material -- rotates, throwing out the seed or granules at a rate regulated by a lever on the handle. To ensure uniform coverage, make vertical and horizontal passes over the area.
Use this type of spreader to sow grass seed, lime, or granular fertilizer precisely. The granules or seeds flow from a rectangular hopper in measured amounts in a row along its wheelbase. An adjustment on the handle alters the amount you dispense. With each pass across the lawn, this spreader evenly distributes the material in rows. It's perfect for lawns with straight edges but requires a careful pattern of passes so you don't leave any missed strips.
This tool consists of a sharp, straight-edge steel blade mounted at the end of a long wooden or Fiberglass handle. This English-style version has a rounded semicircular blade with a broad top edge that forms a tread for your foot. Place the tool along the edge of the turf where it meets pavement, then push the blade downward to cut a neat border.
This is the most efficient way to edge long stretches of lawn along walks and driveways. If you have a large property or a lot of lawn that you want to keep perfectly edged, this is the tool for you. When using a powered edger, you want to be aware of where any shallowly buried electric or water lines may lie -- a consideration if you have an in-ground irrigation system for the lawn. You don't want to cut any lines accidentally.
Electric-powered edgers are available in corded and battery-powered models. Before choosing one, consider the length the electric cord would have to be to reach the nearest electrical outlet from the farthest area you will be edging.
Continued on page 2: Spreaders