Gadgets to make yard work effective and fun

One trick I learned years ago is that a fun toy, gadget, or tool can make a task I dislike more pleasant to do. My FitBit encourages me to walk, for instance. Likewise, a beautiful ledger helps me work on my family’s budget. With this in mind, I decided to tackle another chore I typically avoid: Yard work.

Yard work isn’t so bad in the spring and fall, when the weather is nice and it’s pleasant to be outdoors. But in the summer, ugh. Heat, humidity, and the ever-present, thin layer of sweat prompt me to procrastinate and then grumble the entire time I finally do it. To get past this frustration, I discovered three tools that I enjoy so much, I’m eagerly willing to push my way through the humidity and heat and do a little yard work.

An expandable hose is the first item. I’ll admit it, I thought this was a goofy gimmick. My sister sent me one of these as a Father’s Day gift. It was thoughtful, as the hose I had been using for many years had died. “Well,” I thought, “this thing looks weird but I’ll try it out.”

After one use I was a complete convert. This lightweight hose does in fact expand at an impressive rate, without sacrificing durability. It feels well-made. When you’re done, simply spray out any remaining water and watch it grow smaller and smaller. The result is lightweight and flexible enough to be stored away with ease.

The second item is The Handy Camel, which is a Chip Clip on steroids. I do a lot of planting, and I’m often hauling heavy bags of soil around. They’re awkward, floppy, and love to spill. Enter the Handy Camel. This thing does in fact behave like a Chip Clip. Just snap it over the opening of a 40-pound bag and use the handle to carry it around like a suitcase.

The third item puts an end to spilling gasoline when trying to fill your gas-powered lawn mower. The Surecan stops that mess. They’re made of sturdy plastic and the brilliant inverted design lets you fill a small-engine tank with the ease of a trigger. No more smelling like gas for the rest of the day or worse, accidentally splashing gas on hot parts of the mower.

I’m not usually one to recommend buying more stuff to stay productive, but if a tool or gadget makes a task so much more enjoyable that you actually do it and don’t hate it, I’m all for it. Simple living is about living free of distractions — and loathing an activity is certainly a distraction.

10 Comments for “Gadgets to make yard work effective and fun”

  1. posted by Chris on

    As much as I loved the concept and space savings with the expandable hoses, I did not have good luck with the two of them I had purchased — they sprung leaks/holes after just a few uses. After looking around the Internet, this is not an uncommon problem. Money down the drain. I would not recommend these hoses at all.

  2. posted by Johng on

    The expandable hose is one of this most popular, worst rated items on amazon. Don’t link to or promote junk.

  3. posted by Pat on

    I got my expandable hose last year. Maybe I have not had it long enough yet, but my hose is going strong and I love it. It’s so light that I can move it from one hose connection to another (we have three). Beats having to disconnect and store three heavy hoses in the winter! So, for now at least, I am with you, Dave.

  4. posted by Pat Reble on

    My favourite garden toy is my Ryobi drill. The garden attachments are great – line trimmer; edge and hedge trimmer, leaf blower. The battery switches from one to the next.

  5. posted by Rebecca on

    I would really like to know what brand expandable hose you guys have that have lasted a year. Mine lasted under a month. Oh, for that month it was much better, but the cost is too high to buy a hose every month.

    For me, the best tool for the garden was a pair of good quality gardening gloves – saved my hands many times over, prevented me from losing my grip on things and made me more willing to dig around in the dirt to get things done.

  6. posted by Josh on

    How do you “spray out any remaining water” without putting more water in the hose? Air pump?

  7. posted by Emily on

    Josh, you turn the water off at the faucet. 😉 I bought my expandable from an eBay seller and it’s lasted well. I do know that you’re supposed to make sure the water is out so the hose is shrunken down again after use, thereby taking the pressure off. And I would imagine that keeping it out of the hot sun helps.

  8. posted by David Caolo on

    Hi folks, it’s Dave. Many of you have asked questions about the expandable hose, and I’m happy to answer. I’m afraid I can’t remember the brand, as I got mine over a year ago. It was the 50-foot variety, which for me is a bit short, so I bought a second one and attached it. Now I’ve got 100 feet of retractable hose.

    I’m sorry that so many of you have had poor experineces with yours. That stinks! Here are a few best practices that I’ve adopted; perhaps they’re helping with longevity.

    1. Empty the water when you’re done working. I keep spraying after I’ve turned the faucet off, allowing it to shrink back to size. Then I curl it up and let it sit.

    2. Keep it flat. Since these hoses aren’t made of heavy-duty rubber like non-flexing models, I don’t hang it on the metal hanger, for fear of tears. Instead, I simply let it coil on the grass beneath the spigot.

    3. Store it in winter. Water exapnds with it freezes, which is why — and how — pipes burst. When the cold weather comes, I drain my garden hose, coil it up and store it in the basement. That way it’s free of freezing temperatures.

    Again, I’m sorry that some of you had a poor experince with a flexible hose. Please understand that I would never, ever recommend an inferior product. I can only speak from my own experince, which has been positive. To those of you who’ve had a good expeirince, if you can share the brand/your best practice tips, we’d love to have them! Thanks in advance.

  9. posted by Chris on

    Dave (and others),

    I had purchased two of the Pocket Hose brand hoses (same as the link that the picture you included in your post links to). Like you, I wanted 100ft so I bought two and linked them together. Both of them lasted only a handful of uses before they sprung leaks from tiny holes in the hose part. Per your comments they were: always drained after using, stored coiled on the ground, and not left to freeze. Yes, if someone has used a different brand and it is not too expensive, I *may* bite the bullet and give one another try (as I very much like the concept and storage space savings), but I will never buy a Pocket Hose brand hose again.

  10. posted by giant on

    so have nice idea

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