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machines

How to rescue stepping stones from encroaching turf grass

By | Landscaping, Lawn Care, machines | No Comments

Regular readers of my landscape blogs will know how much I love the blade edger machine. The machine can redefine hard and soft landscape edges and it can prevent turf grass from swallowing stepping stones and drains.

So I got to make myself happy recently when I filled in for our regular foreman on a small strata site. As always, lawn care came first; mowing and line edging. Then when I did the blade edging I noticed many stepping stones and drains on site with turf grass creeping over the edges. Left alone, the grass will eventually cover up the stones thereby defeating their original purpose. And that would most likely give me a nasty rash.

Luckily, I was on the case armed with a brand new blade. New blades are best for soft edges between lawn and beds. For hard edges you can always use older blades and grind them down to “stumps” that can be later recycled.

 

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For best results use fresh blades for soft edging and stubborn overgrown stepping stones.

 

Distress

Take a look at the picture below. It’s not a complete disaster, yet, but the stones could look sharper. Now. Right now. And I had time because the site was small and I was filling in for the regular foreman.

 

 

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It’s not a complete disaster yet but these stepping stones could use some redefining.

Step 1

Blade the edges just deep enough to re-establish the hard edges. If you go too deep you will kick up a lot of dirt. Remember, you’re not building a ditch.

I normally run the entire right line out, then the left side back before finishing each stone. Doing each stone separately makes me dizzy.

 

Step 2

 

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Stubborn edges like these must be raked out. If you just rely on your blower you will have to make a debris pile anyway. The rake worked just fine in this case.

 

Step 3

 

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Blow off the stones and note how beautiful they look with their sharp edges; separated from the lawn. This should be done periodically between May and November when the lawn grasses are the most active. This is NOT a weekly task. This work should hold for several weeks.

And don’t forget round drains while you’re at it. They actually serve a more crucial function in the landscape so keep an eye on them.

 

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A rescued drain.

 

If you have yet to fall in love with a blade edger, I hope this blog post will inspire you. It’s important to check lawn creep around drains and stepping stones and redefine all hard edges periodically.

Why landscapers will fall in love with the new Stihl HS 82T model

By | machines | No Comments

I love testing new machines in the field and forming my own opinions of them instead of relying on online reviews or sales pitches. I did this recently when I got my dirty landscaper hands on a new set of Stihl pruning shears. And I had a blast testing them.

HS 82T

I will give you the key idea of this blog post right now: the T stands for precision sculpting and trimming which should make all landscape professionals smile. Most landscapers have used the R models which are for “rough” pruning, say, for laurels like Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Luyken‘.

But what if you have to prune something like boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) which is much finer? You use the HS 82T model because it has much higher blade RPMs than the R models.

That’s the key idea of this blog post. So if you’re busy stop reading and go prune something. Or stay and see my work and read about the HS 82T specifications which are available online.

Boxwood

I tested the new power shears on boxwood at a large strata site and I was very happy with the results. It helps when the shears are new and sharp. Always make sure your blades are sharp and use ear and eye protection. I guided the blades over theĀ  hedge and let the high blade RPMs handle the rest.

The unit didn’t feel heavy, it started well and I didn’t really notice any vibrations. I gave the power shears 5/5 in my review on Stihl’s website.

 

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The shears performed really well on this boxwood.

 

Features

The HS 82T power shears are gas-powered but Stihl promises 20% better fuel-efficiency over other models which should add to your bottom line. The other important feature on newer machines is the low-vibration technology which I absolutely love. It really does reduce operator fatigue. You may also consider using anti-vibration gloves. I used to buy them and quickly lose them.

I didn’t really have any issues with unit weight and I prunedĀ  for over six hours with half an hour lunch break in between.

Conclusion

The Stihl HS 82T power shears will be the go-to model for “precision sculpting and trimming” as the Stihl USA sites mentions. I tested this unit on boxwoods and laurels and I was happy with the results. I suggest you test one unit soon. (Disclaimer: I am not in any way associated with Stihl.)

 

New Stihl toys for professional landscapers

By | machines, Reviews | No Comments

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If you read my blogs regularly you will know that I am not really a machine type dude. But testing new landscape “toys” is always exciting, even for a guy who prefers soft plant material.

Today was one of those days when I got to see a shiny new Kombi engine from Stihl. I always wonder what improvements have been made and how they will help my work in the field. The beauty of the Kombi system is that it allows professional landscapers to operate with one engine and several attachments.

 

KM 91R

 

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KM 91R Kombi engine

 

The new KM 91R Kombi engine weighs 4.4 kg and comes with a suggested retail price of $419.95. It’s always nice to get to know your local dealer so you can get a better deal or at least score some freebies.

Key points:

a) The KM 91R comes with a larger fuel tank which should result in 30% longer running times. Of course, you will pay for this as you shoulder the extra weight but frequent re-fuelling is annoying.

b) Stihl is promising improved handling and control

c) The new stop button must be depressed; one touch!

d) The choke button is also new. It must be depressed and then turned. I wonder how this will work once the engine is subjected to rain and dirt. Only time in the field will tell.

 

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One touch stop!

 

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The new choke. Depress and turn.

 

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All set with these new toys!

 

 

 

Power shear attachment

 

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Ok, so this articulating attachment has been out for a while but since I got to see the set I thought I’d write a few notes about it. I absolutely love the reinforced blades! They might add weight but the stiffness is spectacular. The older attachments would over time start to bend which made it awkward when you tried to cut the top of your cedar hedge straight.

 

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The solid bar on top gives the attachment super stiffness.

 

Sometimes the tip of the shears would start vibrating which was annoying when you stood on top of a ladder trying to get a laser line on top of your cedar hedge. This new stiffer attachment eliminates the vibrations. It’s such a nice feeling! Using the old style attachments feels like punishment.

If you do a lot of shearing during the season, definitely consider upgrading to these new shear attachments. You’ll love it.

There are many dealers in the Lower Mainland so search for one closest to you. One dealer I love is Foreshore Equipment on Byrne Road in Burnaby. Go see their show room and ask the helpful, knowledgeable staff. Tell them Vas sent you. Also, grab some Stihl candy from the counter on your way out.

 

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