Friday, November 18, 2011

Since You Asked...For The Weatherproof Your Landscape Holiday Gift List

Ordinarily, I don't like to jump the gun on the holidays. But, okay, you asked for it—and you must have known this list would be filled with practical items that every homeowner should have for maintaining trees and shrubs.

The fact is, most households do not own a full set of the basic non-powered tools for the care and repair of the landscape's valuable anchor plants. With today's increasingly extreme weather, these tools are a must. So here we go with my top ten recommendations:

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1. Weatherproofing Your Landscape

I won't even blush. Anyone who owns a tree or shrub needs a copy of this book (perhaps tastefully packaged together with one or more of the next nine gift ideas).

This is suitable for both new and veteran property owners anywhere in the country, from California to Maine to Florida, and all points in between. (Much of the information is applicable to landscapes around the globe.) If you know someone who has relocated to a new region that has unfamiliar weather issues: yup, also a super smooth idea.

Recipients will thank you every time an extreme-weather event hammers their landscape—and as recent history has shown us, that's going to happen no matter where you live.

Bypass pruners, Courtesy Fiskars
 2. Pruners

These come in two basic types: anvil and bypass. Both are useful for small branches up to about finger-diameter. Pruners are a must for training young trees and shrubs into sturdy growth habits, as well as for removing small broken branches.

Anvil pruners, Courtesy Fiskars
 Anvil-jawed pruners (at left) have a cutter blade that chomps down on a flat surface. These are bulkier than bypass types, and so are more difficult to maneuver into tight crotches for close cuts.

More popular bypass pruners (above) have two sharpened blades that work with a scissor action. They'll fit into almost any nook and cranny, and  this definitely makes them my choice if I could own just one type.

Both types of pruners come in a wide array of models, some with easy-grip hands and other nifty features.

3. Loppers
Loppers, Courtesy Fiskars

As with pruners, loppers are available in anvil or bypass models. Designed for  larger branches than pruners can handle, they need to be built to stand up to heavy-duty use.

My old loppers have toiled in the trenches for three decades, and are still going strong. But what I'd really like is a set with telescoping handles, to reach up a little higher without resorting to a tree pruner (see blow) or having to break out a ladder...especially when dealing with an ice storm.

Power-tooth saw, Courtesy Fiskars
4. Pruning saws

Saws are a must following almost any tree-damaging extreme weather event. Again, you have a choice of two primary models: power tooth and bow.

Power-tooth saws (to the left) are great for removing branches that won't quite fit between the jaws of a lopper. The shape of this saw blade is ideal for making cuts close to crotches and other tight areas.

Bow saw, Courtesy Fiskars

Bow saws (to the right) are for larger limbs that are just short of needing a powered chainsaw. We've even used our bow saw for felling small trees. This can come in handy if a storm causes significant damage to a tree.

Tree pruner, Courtesy Fiskars
5. 12' tree pruner

This is a must for trimming broken branches out of trees following wind or ice storms, or even for basic manicure pruning to help prevent damage. The telescoping handle brings a range of branches into easy reach. I find this tool indispensable for pruning tall varieties of crape myrtle without having to resort to a ladder.

Shrub rake, Courtesy Fiskars
6. Shrub rake

Extreme weather events commonly leave a lot of debris scattered around the landscape. A shrub rake can reach into those tight places where a standard rake can't, so you won't have to get down on your hands and knees to grub out the yard trash.

Courtesy Water Right Inc.
 7. Water hoses

There are water hoses...and then, there are water hoses. Some high-grade hoses don't contain any metals or chemicals that can be harmful to pets or people. Some are sturdy enough to drive a truck over. Some are super-easy to coil, and never kink. So something as seemingly simple as a water hose can be a nifty and varied gift, indeed. This would be an especially good gift for anyone who lives in this year's vast drought area, where more of the same is forecast for 2012.

Courtesy Wells Lamont

8. Gloves

I'm not talking about those namby-pamby plastic or cotton gardening gloves that you find on store racks everywhere. If you're going to do serious maintenance or repair work in the landscape, you need something that will hold up and protect your hands. I stick with sturdy leather-palmed gloves that get me through the entire year no matter how hard I work them—and, yes, you can find them in women's and even children's sizes as well as men's.

9. Safety goggles or glasses

Nothing makes a bad day worse than getting a scratched cornea. And that's so easy to do when trimming overhead branches or reaching into shrubs to make just the right pruning cut—not to mention when using power tools such as shredders and chainsaws.

Today's safety goggles and glasses come in a wide array of cool styles to suit even the most discerning fashionista. Just make sure you select a model designed to protect your eyes from flying debris, not against chemical splashes or other industrial uses.

Courtesy Fiskars
10. Water catchment system

Nothing is more vital to the landscape than water—a natural resource that is becoming increasingly scarce. Water catchment systems will someday become standard equipment for all households. Indeed, they are already being built into many new homes, especially in drought-prone areas.

A system is available to fit every budget. So 'tis the season for making sure your loved one gets on the  bandwagon with a new water-saving system that can help tide over their plants during dry periods.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful!

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