Introduction to Lawn Care Equipment

The tools you need to maintain your lawn

Older man lawn-mowing his garden
© Ingetje Tadros/Taxi/Getty Images

Maintaining a beautiful lawn is much easier with the proper lawn care equipment. They don't have to be expensive but they should be of a decent quality. A good mower, string trimmer or spreader should last many years if maintained properly.

Mowers:

Lawn mowers are either rotary or reel-type.

  • Rotary mowers are most common and can be either electric or gasoline powered. Rotary mowers cut with blades spinning horizontally, chopping the top off the grass plants. Dull blades will tear the grass so it's important to keep them sharp. Rotary mowers can collect clippings with a bagging system, return them to the lawn with mulching blades, or disperse them out the side of the machine. They can be push-style, self propelled push-style or ride-on.
  • Reel mowers are less common, powered only by pushing them forward and are ideal for small, level, lawns. They cut with a shearing action to produce an excellent quality of cut when kept sharp. Reel mowers are gaining in popularity because they are inexpensive and produce zero emissions. A drawback to this type of mower is that the grass must not be allowed to grow too high or the mower will not cut properly.

    See Lawn Mower Gallery Here

String Trimmers:

String trimmers are hand held and powered by electricity or a gas and oil mix. A string trimmer uses a small, spinning head with plastic twine as the cutting edge. They are small and maneuverable so are used for trimming the grass around buildings, beds, trees, fences and areas a mower can't reach.

Edgers:

A power edger is like a string trimmer except with metal blades and a vertical cutting head, while a hand edger uses a stepping motion and a sharp half circle cutting edge.

Edgers create dramatic cut lines where the lawn meets walkways and beds. Not an essential piece of equipment but some warm-season grasses tend to creep into adjacent areas if not frequently edged.

Push-type Spreaders:

Push-type spreaders are used to apply fertilizers, seed and pesticides. They can get expensive but the pricier, commercial grade ones are high quality and will last many years.

Blowers:

Blowers use forced air to blow leaves or debris into piles, disperse clippings, or clean walkways and patios. Hand held blowers can be gasoline powered or electric while larger backpack blowers are strictly gas powered. Some blowers act as vacuums too and can mulch and bag leaves. A blower can be helpful but it's not essential, a rake and broom can get the same results, maybe even better.

Rakes:

A rake is usually a fan-style rake or a rigid tooth, lawn rake. They are great for inexpensively removing thatch, debris and leaves from a lawn. The act of raking is extremely under-rated. It's great exercise, environmentally friendly, and puts you in better touch with your lawn.

Sprayers:

A two gallon hand sprayer or five gallon backpack sprayer can be used for spot spraying weeds or applying other pesticides.

De-Thatchers:

Basic de-thatchers can be inexpensive attachments to riding mowers or it could just be an aggressive hand raking of the lawn. De-thatching is basically the act of roughing up the lawn to remove some of the dead grass and thatch, allowing air and water to better penetrate the surface.

Aerators:

Pitchfork style hand-aerators are available to relieve compaction of very small areas.

Some have solid tines and just poke holes while others are hollow tined and capable of removing cores. It's probably not worth it for a homeowner to own a large motorized aerator. A lawncare company should be able to provide the service for a reasonable price. If the thatch is under control, aerating may only need to be performed once every couple of years.

Other tools:

Not essential but can assist in a lawn care program.

  • Thermometer
  • Rain Gauge
  • Magnifying glass
  • Soil probe
  • Soil thermometer
  • Various weed removal hand tools

A tool is only as useful as you make it. A good tool, used properly, will make lawn care a whole lot more enjoyable.