Low-Impact Gardening Tools with Mother Nature in Mind

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Low-Impact Gardening Tools with Mother Nature in Mind

From saving water in the yard to fighting weeds without chemicals, there are many eco-friendly ways to garden.

Even taking small steps can make a big difference. As PBS-TV host Joe Lamp’l explains, “It all adds up.”

In my suburban garden, I’m always trying to leave a smaller footprint on the world. So, I’ve thrown out pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals from my garden shed. I’ve adopted earth-friendly gardening methods, which are surprisingly effective. And I’ve learned to accept a little imperfection too. In return, many birds, bees, butterflies and beneficial insects now call my garden their home.

Using low-impact gardening tools also can keep your garden looking its best. The best of these tools will help you save water, fight weeds effectively and build healthy soil.

Save Water

With drought warnings popping up across the United States, saving water is a top priority for many gardeners. Forty percent of our nation’s water supply is used outdoors, according to the EPA. Unfortunately, we waste about half of this water, because of overwatering, evaporation and irrigating in the wrong places.

You can save water (and money) in your garden by using mulch, watering early in the day and planting drought-tolerant plants, among other water-saving gardening practices.

But another great idea is to collect rainwater from your roof by attaching a rain barrel under a downspout. Conserving water using rain barrels isn’t new. In fact, people have been doing it for centuries. But you may be surprised how quickly you can fill that barrel with lots of free water.

Let’s say your roof is 1,000 square feet. For each inch of rain that falls, you can harvest approximately 600 gallons of water. Most plants need an inch of rain per week – or a half gallon of water per square foot of garden. So, a 100 square-foot garden would need about 50 gallons of water.

That’s easy to achieve with the Fiskars® Salsa Rain Barrel System, which collects and stores 58 gallons of storm water for your garden use. I like the system’s DiverterPro™ Rainwater Diverter, which directs water into the rain barrel, and filters out leaves and other debris. When the barrel is full, the water doesn’t overflow. Instead, the diverter redirects the water back to the spout and away from your house.

My rain barrel sits near the perennial bed outside our kitchen window, which makes it convenient for irrigating that area. For maximum water savings, consider connecting a rain barrel to all your gutters.

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Reduce Gas Emissions and Noise Pollution

Did you know mowing your lawn for an hour with a conventional gasoline-powered lawn mower causes more air pollution than driving a car for 150 miles? The EPA says lawn and garden equipment contribute a large share of summer emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Conventional mowers are noisy too. The Noise Pollution Clearinghouse (NPC) reports a gasoline-powered lawn mower produces 85 to 90 decibels of noise. That can be heard a quarter mile away. Just mowing a quarter-acre lot pollutes 100 acres of neighborhood with noise.

Battery-operated or electric lawn mowers are eco-friendly options. But hand-pushed reel mowers save gasoline, reduce air pollution and are the quietest of all, according to NPC research.

Recent improvements to reel mowers make them easier than ever to use. For instance, the Fiskars® StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower is 60 percent easier to push than other reel mowers. I like the way this reel mower provides best-in-class cutting, without the hassles of gasoline, oil, product cords, battery charges or noise. Another benefit? Reel mowers provide excellent exercise.

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Fight Weeds Without Chemicals

Manually removing weeds – rather than relying on an onslaught of different sprays – will prevent chemicals from flying around your garden, possibly affecting your kids, pets and beneficial insects. Always pull out the entire root on tap-rooted weeds, such as dandelions, to prevent more from popping up.

For these tasks, I like the Fiskars® UpRoot® Weed and Root Remover, because it lets me pull out weeds without bending over. Instead, four serrated, stainless steel claws grab weeds by the root and pull them out clean for me. It couldn’t be easier, and best of all, no back pain. The product works so well, it was awarded an Ease of Use commendation from The Arthritis Foundation.

Build Healthy Soil

Composting garden and kitchen waste is one of the best ways to build valuable organic matter for healthy soil. Plus, the process saves waste from ending up in landfills. That’s important, because the USDA reports that 65 percent of the average landfill is filled with waste that could have been composted or recycled. Not only that, but 25 percent came from our yards and kitchens, nearly all of which belonged in the composter instead.

The Fiskars Eco Bin™ Composter makes it’s a breeze to compost waste. The open-bottom design allows worms and microbes to speed up the composting. The mesh walls are puncture resistant, but allow air circulation to maximize the aerobic decomposition process. And the windproof lid keeps wild animals and pests away.

This growing season keep these low-impact gardening tools in mind: Making small changes to the way you garden – and using gardening tools such as composters, rain barrels and reel mowers – will go a long way towards building an eco-friendly garden at your home.