The promise of spring — tender seedlings, the first sight of a butterfly, that itch to dig in the dirt — has turned into the realities of summer. We face hours of yard work; our feeders are pillaged by hungry squirrels, and clouds of voracious mosquitoes darken the sky. Thankfully, there are solutions to those problems. And there are other nifty products out there to enhance one's outdoor experience. Here are a few:
HUMMER HIGH RISE
One problem with many hummingbird feeders is the ease with which ants make their way into the nectar. The Hummer High Rise from Cole's eliminates the ant threat with a barrier — a moat, if you will — that keeps ants from fouling the food source. The feeder features elevated perches to make feeding easier, and it's simple to clean and maintain. It's $19.99 and is available at Ace Hardware, online at Bird Watcher Supply Co. and at various retailers (go to coleswildbird.com for a list of dealers).
ORBIT MAX NOZZLE
With eight patterns, this nozzle can handle everything from a gentle spray for delicate plants to a powerful blast for cleaning gutters. A thumb flow control lets the user adjust the flow, and the nozzle is made of durable metal. The hand grip is insulated (it can protect the user to temperatures up to 160 degrees) and comfortable. It's $12.98 and available at Lowe's.
BOBBEX ANIMAL REPELLENT
Banish squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and other small herbivores from your ornamental plantings with Bobbex-R, a repellent that works through smell and taste aversion. It won't wash off in the rain or from watering, and can be applied to low-lying plants or as a bulb dip. Available online at bobbex.com and Home Depot and at many independent retailers across the country; priced at $13 to $14 for a 32-ounce spray container; other sizes are available.
MODERN SPROUT PLANTERS
These nifty-looking planters bring the benefits of hydroponic growing to your home. Modern Sprout's made-in-the-U.S. planters are self-watering, self-feeding, soilless and easy to set up. Options include flowers, herbs and edibles. All you have to do is add water. The planters come in plug-in or solar versions and are priced from $139 to $249. Available on the company's website, modernsproutplanter.com.
NEVERLEAK HOSE REEL
Ames Steel's 150-foot reel has enough heft to stay put when a gardener is handling the hose, and the NeverLeak system resists the ever-frustrating cross-threading. With all-metal construction and an easy-grip handle, the NeverLeak hose reel is available at Lowe's for $119.
TOUGH BIRD FEEDER GUARD
The Feeder Guard attaches to any feeder or birdhouse pole and emits a static electricity shock to any squirrel, chipmunk or raccoon that tries to climb past it to get to the feeder. The shock is generated by a 9-volt battery and is harmless to the animal, just enough to give critters incentive to move on. (Just as important: The feeder and pole are safe for people to touch.) Just be sure to keep your feeder at least 10 feet from any launching spot and high enough so squirrels can't leap from the ground past the guard. For a list of dealers go to coleswildbird.com/ locations. Its suggested retail cost is $50, but pricing can vary. It's available online at Bird Watchers Supply Co. and Amazon as well as some independent garden retailers.
BLUE HAWK YARD CART
The 6-cubic-foot steel yard cart has a mesh bed and fold-down sides, and the handle is dual-purposed, for pulling by hand and towing behind tractors. It's perfect for hauling bags of soil or mulch or flats of plants — or, going the other direction, hauling yard waste to the compost pile. Priced at $119, it's available at Lowe's.