Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

Posts about Tools

Over the rain barrel

Posted by: Martha Buns Updated: May 12, 2011 - 8:32 AM


All this rain, and me with no rain barrel.


I'm behind the curve on rain barrels, partly because I'm not sure which one to choose, partly because many of them seem to cost a lot so I want to research them carefully first, and then, of course, there's inertia.

Initially I was kind of put off by the looks of them, except those handsome wood barrels that seem to cost heaven and earth. But now I'm seeing a lot more attractive options, some with slightly less scary prices. (Although I'm so not buying the one I saw in a catalog recently that's supposed to look like a landscaping rock but looks more like a cheesy prop from a 1960s B sci fi movie.)

I need help from rain barrel veterans to overcome my indecision and inertia: Has it been worth the effort? What size do I need for a house with a smallish roof area? Any tips for setting them up that I should watch out for? And did you buy yours or go for DIY?

Chainsaw massacre

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: June 3, 2010 - 10:18 AM


I'm a city girl, and I haven't had much experience with machinery. Sure, I've wielded my share of weedwhackers and mowers.  But for the most part, I was a power-tool virgin. Until last Saturday.


That day, I woke up determined to rent a chainsaw and tackle my gnarliest landscape chores.

I was inspired, in part, by you, dear readers. I blogged a couple weeks ago about fixing landscaping bloopers, specifically a big, ugly bush that had swallowed the front of my house. Your comments were ruthless: "Show no mercy." "Cut it down." "You'll be glad you did." A few of you scolded me for letting it get so overgrown to begin with. And at least one of you pooh-poohed my wimpy assertion that it was too big a project to tackle myself.

OK. Why not? I'm a big girl -- why shouldn't I be able to handle a chainsaw? 


"Gas or electric?" the guy at the rental place asked.


"Ummmm... I'm not sure," I mumbled. "Which one is lighter?"

Electric, he told me. So electric it was. I paid for three hours, went home, donned gloves and goggles, and eagerly plugged in.

I felt a surge of satisfaction as the blade bit through the big, ugly bush. It had many trunks, but the biggest were no thicker than my ankle. Within a half hour, the bush was a pile of branches.

I moved on to the barberry, which had gotten too tall and too thick to trim with hand clippers. Brrrzzzzzz! In no time, they were the height I wanted them. This was great! Might as well attack the juniper while I'm at it.


Finally came the buckthorn. My husband and I had spent many exhausting hours sawing through them last year, but we never got around to killing or removing the trunks. Of course, they were back, bigger and badder than ever. But they were no match for my blade. By the end of three hours, my yard looked like a tornado zone. And I was definitely hooked on chainsaws.


What's your favorite power tool? And any suggestions on what I should plant in place of the big, ugly bush?




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