Saturday, December 13, 2008

Noises Off! Summer Tools in Kingston

I stayed with my brother-in-law for a few months after my sister died. I enjoyed being in the fresh air out in the country; he was 15 kms outside of Kingston. However, like most people who own a lawn, he was manaically enslaved to cutting it once a week and though my sister was now part of the garden, his 39 years of marital conditioning, or rather, his innate ability to take orders from a woman, compelled him to continue mowing it once a week. Watching him as he sweat in the midday sun, I would sympathetically pass him out a beer as he swooped around the front of the house. I convinced him to let the damn grass grow a little longer, but guilt is stronger than critical thinking and soon enough he would be back out there, my sister's ghost driving him to mow the lawn and tend to the garden, which very soon was neglected. Old habits are impossible to crush, unless you move and re-marry, which he finally did.

My brother-in-law drove me crazy with his lawn mower, but even worse was his neighbor, who drove me crazy with all the noise from his power tools. He almost ruined the summer. It made me wonder....

Since when did taking care of lawns become so complicated? What happened to good old tools like shovels, clippers, rakes and hoes? It's hard to enjoy summer anymore without being driven crazy by the whirring of lawnmowers, edgers, chainsaws, trimmers, or weeders, or some other piece of equipment that’s become a neighborhood blight. Take a look at all the crazy stuff that we need today just to get the seeds in, keep the grass down and drive our old-fashioned neighbors to the mad house.

If you’re putting in a new lawn, there are sod cutters, turf slitters, square turf doctors, sod pluggers and turf transplanters, hexagon turf doctors and hex pluggers to help you get started. After that you’ll need seed slotters, portabel seeders and spreaders, or, large capacity hand spreaders, weed twisters, weed applicator weeders, weeding brushes, weed rollers with no-drift applicators, weed torches, and infra-weeder eliminators.

That takes care of the lawn. But if you want to do the edge of your lawn you’ll need lawn edgers and trenching tools, or the dual wheel grass edgers and curved trimming scissors.

Since when did people need so many choices? How many different kinds of weeds are there anyway? Evidently, loads. So there are weed torches that use propane and weed dragons for spot weeding, a rocket weeder and a super weeder (so I don’t have to bend over because I might get a kick in the ass). Then there’s a weeding brush which “paints” out weeds? How do I paint out a weed? And what color do I paint it? But if you don’t want to paint it out you can always burn it out with the green steam weed killer.

Will the weeds come back? If the little bastards try, you’ve got the weed twister that pushes, twists or pulls them out by their neck out of the ground. Or if that doesn’t work, there’s the electro-weed killer that doesn’t use chemicals gas or propane, it uses electricity to thrash the weed out of the ground by heating the root and the root crown, leaving the weed to kill it. And finally, the real big cheese of the garden is the gutsy weeder that stabs and cleanly mutilates weeds with a 3” carbon steel blade angled to slice off their heads as it ploughs in with the inside edge. These tools sound like assault weapons. Has anybody checked out the safety of this stuff?

For those who still like to use chemicals (cause let’s face it chemicals really work) there’s the weed ‘no drift’ applicator which makes short work of your herbicide application and eliminates spray drift which can poison your neighbors. Drive them insane with the noise, but don’t gas them.

Next - the rakes. There are screening rakes, beach rakes, duel-purpose rakes, field rakes, deluxe ground rakes, super leaf rakes, shrub rakes, spot rakes and snow roof rakes, bunker and sand debris rakes, spring brace rakes, de-thatching rakes (one prong and four prong), professional landscape rakes, pro-turf lute rakes with a 66” handle and for all the golfers – sand trap rakes, surface lake rakes and yes, finally, your basic clean-up rake.

For all those who don’t have enough tools in the shed, you’ve got accessories: utility movers, utility wagons, e-z reachers for the yard, deck flossers, lawn garden carts, water brooms, garden bags and folding utility carts.

And for all those special jobs there are eradication spray systems, compost aerators, pond balance algae, plant caddies, heavy duty wheel locks, boot wheel locks, garden water filtration systems, horticultural sprayers, slug pots, a compost tea brewer and the compost tea catalyst.

The lawn mower, the dullest tool in the shed, is now the electric mower, the robotic mower, the reel mower, the lawn striper and the cordless mower.

If you’re into landscaping, there are brush cutters, electric chain saws, grass trimmers, hedge and branch trimmers, lawn edgers, leaf blowers, leaf sweepers, rakes and de-thatchers, tree pruners and push sweepers. What’s a push sweeper? Is that what they used to call a broom?

And then, the final tool in the shed, the grass trimmer. How many different kinds of grass trimmers do you need? Evidently – lots. There’s the straight shaft gas, curved shaft gas, 4-stroke trimmer/blower, 12-inch lithium-ion trimmer, electric or cordless, the electric string trimmer, electric lawn edger, the 15-in electric grass trimmer, an 18-inch straight shaft gas and the 10-inch cordless grass trimmer. There’s the 16-inch feather light curved, and the 17-inch straight and then the 17-inch curved shaft gas, followed by the 4-stroke trimmer blower. What about the 14-inch electric grass trimmer, 13-in electric string trimmer or the electric lawn edger?

Since when did we need so many choices over digging a hole, planting some seeds, covering them with dirt and adding water?