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7 Suggestions for Making Lawn and Garden Tasks Easier
As a reader of Successful Farming magazine, you demonstrate time and again how innovative you are through the ideas you share in your “All Around the Farm” submissions. It’s apparent that safety and ergonomics are often on your mind, too. These select AATF ideas demonstrate ways to get a better handle – sometimes literally! – on things in the lawn and garden.
For instance, there are two modifications to zero-turn radius mowers (numbers 2 and 4) that introduce grab handles to make it easier to get on and off.
There’s no need to strain or risk injury – not when it’s preventable. Thanks to these seven farmers who all thought to themselves at one time, “Wouldn’t it be easier if . . .”
1. Drive the mower onto a service ramp.
Andy Kuhlmann of Chebanse, Illinois, made a service ramp for his garden tractor (shown below) out of 2-inch square tubing. “It allows me to work underneath my garden tractor easily. I can change the blades and clean the deck without having to take the deck off. I also added a step on the side so I can work on the engine,” he says.
Each ramp is 13 inches wide, and the two ramps are positioned 20 inches apart. The platform surface is 15 inches high and 75 inches long. There is 1×2-inch angle iron welded on the back end, which is what the drive-up ramps rest on. A bonus function: Kuhlmann uses the same ramps for his mower trailer.
2. Use an assist handle to get on and off of a zero-turn radius lawn mower.
“After spending a couple of hours in the mower seat, some people can have trouble finding their land legs,” observes Kenneth Preston, who lives in Wheatland, Indiana.
This situation inspired him to devise a way to give riders more upper-body leverage as they regain their balance and footing after long hours spent mowing.
Preston says he spent less than $20 on his invaluable and often-used assist handle. All the materials are made of galvanized steel: a 30-inch-long ½-inch-diameter pipe, a 6-inch nipple, an elbow, a cap, and a railing base.
The handle is attached to the mower deck with countersunk ¼-inch machine bolts, which makes it quite sturdy.
“It really works. I use it all the time,” says Preston.
3. Climb on and off a riding mower with ease.
Terry Hershman of Wheatfield, Indiana, built a wooden platform in the shop to make it less difficult for his dad (who’d had knee surgery) to climb onto the mower. Since the platform is the same height as the mower’s platform, the rider can now step on and off the mower on a level surface. “I’m sure there are a few other people who could use something like this. It was quick and easy to build,” says Hershman.
4. Feel safer on a zero-turn mower.
Robert Haas of Roanoke, Illinois, says he now feels more secure on his mower. That’s because it has the added feature of the grab bar he designed. “I like the idea that there is something there in case of a sudden stop like a washout or a hole,” he says. “It’s also so much easier having something solid to pull on when I get on or off. The fold-out handles that came on the machine just didn’t give me the assistance I needed,” he says.
Haas gives all of the fabrication and installation credit to his grandsons, who he says did all the work. “I don’t believe they had to drill any additional holes, and the only items they had to purchase were new bolts,” says Haas.
5. Plant seeds in the ground while standing up!
Here’s a simple gardening tool idea that saves bending down, yet it gives precise seed placement. C.P. Brandenburger of Beecher City, Illinois, cut a piece of 1½-inch-diameter plastic pipe to 46 inches long. At the top end, he taped the bottom of a 2-liter soda bottle cut down to form a cup shape for seed; it is taped adjacent to the pipe. He says the bottle has a nice, round bottom that makes it easy to pick seed out. “I just place the pipe where I want the seed and send down as many seeds as I need. It works very well – even on windy days,” Brandenburger says.
6. Pick strawberries in greater comfort.
Instead of ending up with a strained back from bending over to pick berries, Willard Pearson of Dawson, Minnesota, devised another method. He put boards under the legs of an armless folding seat and added foam padding. By positioning his chest in the padded seat, his hands are free to pick strawberries. As he picks fruit, he pushes the container on ahead of him. (Dawson recommends wearing knee pads.) This method takes the strain off of his back, he reports.
7. Spray weeds with a rolling sprayer.
Laura Wheeler was getting fatigued by lugging around a 3½-gallon weed sprayer as she worked on her place in Malone, Florida. She rolls it around now, instead. She says her husband attached it to a golf caddy. “It makes taking care of the yard and garden easy for me whether I’m spraying insecticides or weed killer,” she says.