DIY Gardening Essentials for a Carbon–Free Workout
Amidst the backdrop of sadness and surrealism caused by the coronavirus, a renewed and growing interest in all things gardening-related is certainly a green lining. People everywhere are flocking outside to enjoy the fresh air and spring sunshine while learning how to grow and nurture all manner of plants from vegetables to seedlings to perennials. Many homeowners are also using the extra free time on their hands to maintain and manage their own landscaping.
DIY landscaping offers a wonderful and safe outlet to stay fit — both mentally and physically — while never leaving the sanctuary of your back yard. All you need is the right gear and equipment. Investing in equipment that is powered by your own horsepower versus dirty fossil fuels will not only promote cleaner air for you and your neighbors, but also safeguard the environment.
Here is a checklist of “clean gardening” essentials to get hold of before heading outdoors to enjoy a gym-free, serotonin–inducing, and vitamin D–boosting workout:
Landscaping of any kind involves rolling up your sleeves and using your own two hands. It definitely qualifies as “manual labor” or “cross-training”, depending on which way you look at it, but you don’t have to go at it barehanded. To protect your nails and skin from cuts, stings, blisters and punctures, invest in a well-made pair of sturdy gardening gloves. The gloves should be durable, thick and comfortable, while also providing grip and dexterity. Ideally, they should be waterproof, as you will be dealing with watering, precipitation and moist soil. Also, long gloves that reach beyond your wrist will offer you added protection.
You’ll definitely need to don your new gardening gloves while pruning back your shrubbery and trees. A sharp pair of shears can be used for the dual action of shaping your boxwoods while toning forearms and pectoral muscles. Instead of plugging in an electric hedge trimmer, this versatile hand tool can travel with you to the far reaches of your garden to easily and seamlessly deadhead perennials and trim back overgrown plants. A good pair of shears should be strong enough to prune hard branches of trees and shrubs, sometimes up to two centimeters thick. Look for a safety lock to prevent accidents (the blades should be sharp!), ergonomic and comfortable hand design, carbon steel blades for sap-resistance to prevent clogging and sticking, and non-slip handles.
I recently “edged” my own flower beds for the first time ever. The before and after was quite dramatic and the results were amazingly satisfying! I started at the far end of each bed, positioned my spade on the outer contour, raised it a few inches and then lowered it forcefully with a sharp push above from my boot-clad foot in order to cut away the encroaching grass and ground matter. The spade sliced through the long grass and topsoil with the ease of a butter knife while giving me a decent upper-body strength workout. I then used the spade to shovel up and flick away the accumulated debris. No electric weedwhacker necessary! In addition to cutting sod and reshaping beds, a spade is essential for digging deeper holes in which to plant seeds and bulbs. When buying a dependable workhorse garden spade, select one with a generous handle, strong shaft, and all–steel construction. Also, invest in a large spade with treads or shoe protectors on top of the blade.
Rake and Broom
The lowly rake and broom collecting cobwebs in your garage or garden shed represent oft-overlooked gardening essentials in today’s turbo-charged world of gas-guzzling leaf blowers and tractor mowers. However, due to widespread concerns about the potential for blowers to spread Coronavirus while exacerbating respiratory illness, the City of Rye’s seasonal leaf blower ban was implemented several days before its typical commencement and is in full effect through September 30. Now is the time to dust off your rake and broom and break a sweat while sweeping up any errant leaves, grass clippings, or other organic debris. Instead of bagging and curbing your green waste, deposit it in a backyard compost pile where it will transform itself into a valuable soil amendment within a few short months.
Not only is the good, old-fashioned push–reel lawnmower carbon-free, it produces little to no noise pollution and offers one heck of an aerobic workout. I have been mowing my own lawn for over a decade now and switched to a reel mower after my secondhand electric lawnmower gave up the ghost. Not only is the reel mower far less complicated to operate with no pesky extension cords to trip over and risk of death by electrocution, it yields similarly satisfying results. Plus, a reel mower spreads cut grass clippings back onto your turf which act as free and natural lawn fertilizer precluding the need to buy and apply chemical fertilizers. I was lucky enough to inherit my reel mower from a thoughtful garden club friend whose tenant left it behind when he moved out of their rental property. However, a quick internet search for second–hand, used lawn mowers in your local area is bound to yield results.
Now that you’ve stocked up on all this great and green gardening gear, it’s high time to get out there, spike your heart rate, and enjoy the late spring sunshine, birdsong, and butterflies!
- Melissa Grieco, Rye Garden Club Conservation Committee