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Renting some heavy-duty help for your garden.

Renting some heavy-duty help for your garden Tackling big jobs--such as removing a lawn--is often easier and quicker if you use motor-driven equipment. At rental yards, you can get such power tools as sod cutters (to slice sod into strips for easy removal), aerators (to improve water penetration down into the root zone), and shredder-chippers (for making mulch).

Five tools that may be particularly helpful to gardeners dealing with drought are listed here. Dozens of other gardening aids--including hand pruners, lawn edgers, even tractors--are also available.

To find a rental yard near you, look in the yellow pages under Rental Service Stores & Yards or under Tools--Renting.

Renting equipment

Summer is a high-demand season for garden tools, so plan ahead when possible, and reserve equipment in advance. Ask the rental yard's staff what size of machinery they recommend for the job you have in mind; undersize equipment can break down if overloaded. Also ask for operating instructions and safety advice, and find out how much strength is required to handle the equipment.

Large tools usually have a 2- to 3-hour minimum rental time, and cash deposits are required. Day rates are often a better deal; you may want to split the cost with a neighbor who has similar needs.

Be sure your vehicle can handle the equipment. Large tillers, chippers, and sod cutters come on trailers, so your bumper must be able to accept a hitch. There's a small charge for the use of a trailer hitch if you don't have one.

To save time (and money), work ahead

Before you set out for the rental yard, prepare the area you'll be working on. If the job involves work with soil, such as rotary tilling, give the ground a good soaking about four days in advance so it will be workable but not too sticky. Remove any large rocks and debris from the area to be cultivated. A small tiller stopped at full throttle by a rock can be hard to restart.

If you'll be chipping wood, cut it into 3- to 5-foot lengths for easy, safe feeding.

What does each tool do?

Sod cutter. This self-propelled tool has a blade that adjusts to cut 1 to 4 inches deep. It cuts from below and sides--then all you do is roll the sod up. Rental: about $15 per hour, $90 per day.

Rotary tillers. For large areas and tougher jobs (such as loosening heavy clay or compacted soils), use a rear-tine tiller. Rental: about $18 per hour, $108 per day.

A front-tine tiller (on tailgate in picture) cultivates light or regularly tilled soils and tight areas. Rental: about $11 per hour, $66 per day.

Aerator. Its prongs push into the ground and pull up plugs of soil. Air, water, and fertilizer can penetrate holes. Leave pulled-up plugs on the ground to dry, then rake apart. Before starting the machine, be sure hard clay is not stuck inside the plugs. Use row for warm-season grasses after thatching. Rental: about $14 per hour, $84 per day.

Thatcher. Also called a power rake or vertical mower, it cuts through runners, stems, and dead grass; it also pulls debris up to the surface (rake and remove it). Rental: $11 per hour, $66 per day.

Chipper. Also called a shredder, it turns wood debris into mulch. Insert prunings, leaves, and sticks up to 4 inches in diameter; shredded material comes out the top chute. Be sure to wear protective goggles and heavy gloves. Work is less noisy when wood is freshly cut. Rental: about $20 per hour, $120 per day.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jun 1, 1991
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