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Every garden has its wild spots where weeds proliferate and vines ramble.
Cutting and trimming with hedge shears will help keep exuberant growth under control, but sometimes you need a tool with more heft and more bite — a machete. Backyard swashbucklers, take up your blades: with a machete (sometimes called a cutlass), you're not just taming the blackberries, you're wielding a tool with traditions.
A machete is a powerful tool for clearing brush. In the tropics, machetes are ubiquitous, all-purpose tools: they have been used to carve trails through tropical forests, to slash out clearings for crops, to crack open coconuts and slice papayas. Use your machete to keep the peace with weeds and brush in your garden, or to serve watermelon with a flourish.
The blade of a Fiskars machete is well balanced and heavy enough to handle brush and small saplings along fence lines and in out-of-the-way places.
Ensure children and pets don't run up to inspect your progress. Take preventative steps to keep them safely away. Where the brush is thick, watch for turtles and snakes.
Remember: leaves of three, let it be. Slicing your way through a thicket of poison ivy leaves and vines will lead to a severe and irritating rash. If necessary, eradicate poison ivy with an herbicide before you come in with a machete.
Pumpkins, squash, and spent foliage from a vegetable garden decompose quickly when they are chopped to bits. Instead of just tossing them on a compost pile and covering them with leaves or grass clippings, give them a few good slashes with your machete.
It's easy to make your own scabbard from the packaging: set the blade on the outside of the package and make a mark through the hole in the tip of the blade.
Then, poke a hole through the package with an awl or scissors. Wipe the blade clean and oil it lightly and sheathe it in the package (the holes should line up perfectly).
Hang it on a nail in the tool shed, ready at hand. The more accustomed you become to using your machete, the more indispensable it will seem.