In summer, the less effort expended, the better the experience. Here are five items to improve your outdoor experience, both while at work and at rest.
The Weed Hound. This is Zen weeding. Push the skinny stick into the ground and let the twisty tines on the bottom do their work. Then pluck the offending weed, roots and all, from the earth. If you push along a lightweight bucket, you don't even have to bend. Pull the dandelion off the end and move on. The Weed Hound is from Hound Dog Products and retails for $25.97. Available at Home Depot and other garden tool retailers.
The Noodlehead Sprinkler. It's kind of the Sideshow Bob of the sprinkler set. Twelve flexible nozzles point water where it's needed, up to 20 feet away, creating a lively fountain display among flowers and vegetables. The online reviews of the sprinkler were mostly positive, including this one that gave the sprinkler high marks "for a slow gentle soaking that sinks into the soil instead of running off." It retails on sale for $13.88 from www.gardeners.com.
Umbrella Mosquito Net. It's called a mosquito net, but it also keeps flies and other insects away from your dinner. Drop the mosquito net on top of a 7-foot or 9-foot outdoor umbrella to install. A plastic tube at the base can be filled with water to keep the net anchored. $29.95. It's available online from Plow and Hearth, www.plowhearth.com.
The DoubleNest Hammock. After you've used that Weed Hound and deployed that sprinkler, reap your reward with time in a hammock that's durable and colorful enough to use in the back yard. It's big enough for two and luxurious for one. It measures 9 feet long and 68 inches wide, but because it's made of parachute nylon, it rolls up to the size of a baseball. Use slap straps ($24.95 or $19.95) to attach it to a tree, or put it in a hammock stand. $64.95. Available from REI or online, eaglesnestout fittersinc.com.
The Third Rock fire pit. It's just cool, which is a weird thing to say about a fire pit. The 350-pound pit is handcrafted in Tennessee and each is individually numbered. It's also sturdy. The bowl is a single piece of molded steel welded to the base ring. Each pit has a rain drain in the bottom to keep it dry between fires. $1,495. Available online from Thos. Baker, www.thosbaker.com; more info at www.firepitart.com.