Fall Yard Cleanup with Clearing Tools

by Marty Ross

Fall is a great season to be outdoors, and there's plenty to do in the garden. Head out with the right tools in hand, and fall cleanup will be a breeze.

Fall Yard Cleanup with Clearing Tools
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The Billhook, Billhook Saw, and Hatchet are sharp and light, making them perfect for fall cleanup activities. These tools can be used to trim edges around flowerbeds, weed among perennial flowers, and prune wayward growth on trees and shrubs to tidy up. The clearing tools each come with a sheath to guard the blades. As you work with your clearing tools, you'll notice that the comfortable handles give you a firm grip either at the top of the handle, close to the blade, or farther back, for more leverage. Experiment to find the grip that works best for each task and it will come very naturally.

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If you're working on several projects at once, as is often the case, stash the clearing tools in a five-gallon bucket with a Fiskars Bucket Caddy strapped around the top. The pockets of the bucket caddy can hold small tools, plant labels, and garden gloves.

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The Billhook tool, while small, is great for a variety of tough jobs. The hooked blade of the tool makes quick work of edging flowerbeds and pathways. You can drag the blade through the soil just where the lawn meets the mulch, cutting off grass and weeds that have wandered into the beds. Edging flowerbeds in the fall is particularly rewarding, because the neatly trimmed beds will hold their definition through the winter.

The Billhook blade is also great for tropical plants. You can also use the tip of the blade to plant, and digging holes for small bulbs such as crocus and scilla, which should only be planted a few inches deep.

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When weeds grow in tight places they're nearly impossible to dig out with a trowel. Use the Billlhook blade to get a grip on these persistent weeds and remove them, roots and all.

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The Hatchet is a larger tool, with the profile of an axe, but the head is thinner and nimbler for light clearing and chopping. Use the hatchet to clean up around trees and use the hook to grab tender shoots and slice them off with an easy pulling motion.

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Heavier stems can be cut with a quick chop. The hatchet is sharp enough to cut through stems without ripping them. These neat cuts will heal naturally and leave your plants less susceptible to insects and diseases that take advantage of ragged cuts to establish themselves.

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Fruit trees are normally pruned in the winter, but wayward shoots often grow along the trunk and branches all summer long. These shoots shouldn't be allowed to grow at all; it's always the right time to prune them. Prune them using the hatchet's head or the hook below the blade.

Some woody stems are not easy to chop through, but the Billhook Saw has the versatility of the smaller Billhook and the advantage of a sharp saw blade. The 9-inch hooked blade is almost twice as long as the Billhook's blade.

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The Billhook Saw is a great tool to use when dealing with honeysuckle vines around the trunks of trees or along a fence. This tool can also be used to control English ivy that finds its way into the crevices of tree bark.

Some people suggest that working outdoors in the fall is a matter of tucking the garden in for the winter, bidding your plants farewell until next year. But the crisp fall air isn't simply a chance to say farewell to summer. It invites you to linger outside, to enjoy the clear blue skies and the bright flash of fall colors in your garden.

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