Gardens & Ecology

Garden Journal :: landscaping w/ hand tools

In a recent post I mentioned that we recently acquired a lawnmower to keep the grass low in certain areas around the farm. In that article I mentioned that we also picture a horse on these lawns and fields but forgot to include other tools we use for landscaping. I also use a diversity of hand tools like a scythe and secotiers and Jona, my partner, uses a machete.

And backstory:: We have a work-trade arrangement with the place where we live. My partner and I don’t pay rent and instead work on the farm, maintaining the functionality of the garden and landscaping the ornamental areas around the property – specifically the front of the property that was once a huge lawn.

We are slowly transitioning that lawn into half lawn, half open grassland and flower area. On all of the perimeter there are hedgerows of a dozen different trees and bushes. Many of these features were once planted by the owners and the people who owned this land previously. Others features grew here on their own – particularly pioneer and invasive species.

Anyway, back to hand tools. What I love about working with human powered tools is that the work allows your to maintain much of the existing plants. When cutting with hedge trimmers, for example, I just focus on unwanted tall grass and leave herbs and wildflowers which are so important for insect habitat.

Here is a overgrown area that is part of the garden but also very visible from the entrance of our house. This is the before picture, you can see plenty of white flowers called amor seco, but not much of the squash and other plants I want to cultivate here. With help from two types of gardening scissors I was able to clear away unwanted plants without disturbing the crops and native plants I would like to thrive there.

Instead of taking all the weeds to a compost pile, I chopped them up and left them in place. The plant matter will dry and become mulch for this second generation of plants. Where once grew amor seco will become a section of late season basil!

Another example, this was once a trampled on nothing area. By defining the trails around our house this area was aloud to regrow, most of these species are native annuals and perennials. Occasionally we trim out grasses and the edges but mostly leave this area alone and only use the lawn mower to maintain the trails.

Basically, the point of this blog post / garden journal entry, was to highlight that using low tech hand tools can be a compliment to gas powered machinery. The mower helps us to maintain lengthy trails we are supposed to keep usable. Grass grows super quickly here, especially during the rainy summers of Córdoba. In the future we hope that the grass can be 100% maintained by grazing animals but, for the moment we just have the help of one horse, our good friend & neighbor Ringo:

And much of the garden, flower beds & borders are maintained by Jona and myself using hand tools. Once again, here is the title picture featuring some of my favorite hand tools for landscaping:

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