Hand Tools and Techniques for Home Landscaping

Learn about hand tools and techniques for home landscaping, including working in wooded land areas, clearing brush, problems with established sod, removing tree roots and common sense landscaping tips.

| December 1997/January 1998

John Vivian shares information on hand tools and techniques for home landscaping. 

Grubbin' and scruffin' were my grandfather's pet names for work in woods and field. This is lawn and garden work that falls somewhere between garden weedflicking and row-cultivating with slim-bladed onion hoes and claw-tined cultivators—and wholesale excavation with bulldozers, backhoes, and bucket loaders. It's hard work in the main when you are using manual labor along with hand tools and techniques for home landscaping. You have to grub out a hole when you need to plant a tree. Or scruff out a patch of serious brush for a new potato patch. And there would be both scruffin' and grubbin' to be done if you were setting a new fish pond into the side yard or doing the other chores described in the first part of "Home Landscaping" in this issue.

This is muscle-powered landscaping, really: moving earth and plant material that's too limited in scope and area to warrant heavy equipment, even if a backhoe could get into the back yard. It is work Hard work. Manual labor that puts a welcome ache into your muscles after a day or a week at the city desk jobs to which most of us are sentenced these days. And, for those who've left the 9 to 5 routine, it's a great way to keep muscles in tone and be sure the midriff doesn't expand too much.

But it also entails heavy lifting that can strain a back that is unprepared, bust a toe that's unprotected, and break or bend equipment that is not sufficiently heavy duty or used inexpertly. It demands technique that enables body and tools to perform efficiently and safely.

Few real grubbing-quality tools are sold at retail garden supply outlets or country town hardware stores. You may find a few power tools at rental agencies, but the most appropriate hand took are made in small quantities and sold to the construction and nursery trades.

You and I can obtain them most easily by mail. A few sources are noted in the following text, and a list of mail-order tool suppliers and other sources is given at the end of the article.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!