Garden tools can make outdoors more fun, less tiring

If there's anything that garden lovers enjoy almost as much as plants, then it's finding new garden tools and gadgets.
Today, I'll feature some products that might make your time outdoors less arduous and more enjoyable. Cheryl and I are already using some of them around our own landscape or at the nursery. Maybe one or two will be just what you've been looking for!
Tractor Seat on Wheels Well, the name of this one says it all: it's a tractor seat on wheels. This has become one of our favorite products because it saves all that wear and tear on our knees and backs. Now if there's a job that would normally require squatting, stooping or kneeling, we pull this guy out of the barn and off we go.
The tractor seat rotates 360 degrees and there's a garden caddy tray underneath it that holds hand tools and gloves, etc. It looks so funky with its big ol' 8 inch wheels that your kids might actually volunteer to weed the flower beds. Or maybe not.
If you can't find a product I mention here, drop me an e-mail and I'll try to help.
Flat Stack self winding hose If you hate untangling a knotted pile of garden hose or if you're tired of winding it back onto its storage reel when you're through watering, this might be what you need. It's a 50 foot, half-inch hose that stretches out for use like a regular hose then simply retracts itself back into a perfect pancake-shaped circle when you've finished using it.
It's a bit more expensive than a "normal" hose, but you won't need a hose reel and it might save you a lot of sweat and under-the-breath cursing. The Flat Stack is UV and weather-resistant and should last years longer than those leaky cheapo hoses most of us have lurking somewhere in the garage.
Rain Bird Time-Release Water We haven't tried this one yet but it certainly looks useful. Essentially, it's water bound in the form of a solid gel that slowly converts back into water over time, sending water and nutrients from the soil to a plant's roots over a period of 30 days or more.
Time-Release Water comes in plastic packages that are the size and shape of a 12 ounce tube of bulk sausage. Slit the "sausage," lay it cut-side down on moist soil next to the plant stem, cover with some topsoil and it will gradually release the water that is suspended in the gel.
It costs around $1.99 per 9 oz tube and is available at most home and garden centers. If you are planning to go on vacation this summer, a few of these around your shrubs or in your container gardens might relieve you of water worries while you're away.
Black & Decker Cordless Cultivator If you hate weeding or turning over soil in flowerbeds with a shovel or a hoe, this could be the tool you're looking for. Don't confuse it with a rotary tiller. It isn't intended to cut through hard-packed sod. But it's a good option if you need to loosen dirt for planting, aerate soil or get in and around plants without damaging them while getting at the roots of most weeds.
Because it's cordless, it can go anywhere, using the same interchangeable 18V power pack that drives several other Black & Decker cordless power tools.
Liquid Net Insect Repellent Cheryl and I have tried just about every spray and lotion on the market. The ones with DEET are effective, but that's a chemical that can be absorbed through the skin and has been linked to neurological damage. We came across Liquid Net and we use it because it's DEET- free, safe for children, has all-natural ingredients and it actually smells pretty good.
There's even a version called Liquid Net for Pets that repels ticks and fleas without any harmful or dangerous chemicals.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org
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