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Beautiful landscaping jobNow that the weather is improving we've got a window of opportunity. That two month or so period between the cold and the absolutely scorching is the right time to get that serious landscaping done. And like any other DIY endeavor, the key is having your tools in tip-top shape.

What's on your plate for adding a little curb appeal to your property? Putting in a pond? Adding a new flower bed? Putting in a new patio? Whatever your aspirations, you'll be wise to inventory your tools. More than likely, some will need maintenance and some will need to be replaced.

Start with the basics
The tool most used (hopefully not abused) is the lawnmower. At a minimum you'll need to:
  • Sharpen the blade.
  • Change the oil; go with a synthetic and you'll only have to do it once a year.
  • Clean or replace the air filter.
  • Clean or replace the spark plug.
  • Check for frayed or broken cables.

Next, have a look at your weed eater/weed whacker. This baby is pretty simple. In most cases you'll just need to change or clean the spark plug and be sure you've got a handy supply of cutting line on hand. I once had to replace the head, but that was my fault because I let the spring get away from me when I was replacing the line!

Tools with handles

This is a great category. It includes shovels and spades, hoes, rakes, and the likes. Here you'll want to check that wooden handles don't have any cracks or aren't broken. Find any splinters? Sand them off! There are times when you can make life easier by sharpening the business end of the tool with a grinder or a metal file.

Be sure that the handle is attached securely to the business end of these tools. Believe it or not, these things do go bad, and it's usually when you would rather they wouldn't. In some cases it's easier to replace the tool; other times the repair is as simple as drilling through in a couple of places and running retaining bolts through. Use washers, of course.

For things like an ax or a pick ax with a loose blade, you can buy metal wedges made especially for whacking into the wood. Expansion equals tightness. Pretty simple physics here.

Helping tools

If you do much gardening or landscaping, chances are that you've got a wheelbarrow lying around. What a great helper this is. But it's usefulness depends to a large extent on it's wheel. This will be either solid rubber or pneumatic (air-up).

The pneumatic wheels will give you a smoother ride but you need to check it to be sure it's not flat. If it is, air it up and check it again the next day. If it's lost air, change the tube out. Better to have a problem with it now rather than when you're working it.

Make sure the bed isn't rusting through. If it has rust issues, sand it down, and then prime and use a paint like Rust-Oleum.

Motorized earth-working tools

Roto-tillers really come in handy for turning over the soil. Not many of us have mules any more! Roto-tillers have tines either in front of or behind the wheels that dig into the soil. If they're in the front, they are most likely belt driven. You'll need to inspect the belt or belts. In most cases, you will have to remove a metal casing.

If your roto-tiller isn't belt-driven, it probably has a transmission. This will be either lubricated by grease or oil. Look for a grease nipple to determine this. If you find one, pump it up with some lithium grease. If it's oil-lubricated, change the oil.

Like everything else motorized, clean or replace the spark plug.

Once you've finished all these chores, it's time for the real work to begin!

  • Bill Volk

    Kelly -- a great summary of maintenance checks for the Spring; thanks.

  • 1 Comments / 1 Pages

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