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5 Best Loppers to Keep Your Garden Under Control

We’re pretty sure that if pruning shears could talk, they’d say, “We’re too small to cut through sizeable twigs and branches, use the best loppers instead.”

And of course, it shouldn’t be a surprise if pruning saws protest the job by claiming it’s below their paygrade. Every gardener, landscaper, and green thumb aficionado knows that loppers don’t just keep your bowing trees and bushes in check, but also, get rid of the safety hazards that could potentially harm you.

When this helpful garden tool comes into your life, you’ll begin to see the true beauty of your green creation.

What You Should Know, Now You Know

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There’s more to the best loppers than just being long-handled scissors that increase your chances of reaching higher and farther when whipping your garden into shape. Here are a few essential things to note about the manual device.

How do I sharpen my loppers?

Your garden tools need a tune-up every once in a while, and the best loppers are no exception. To sharpen, start by scouring the blades with a cleanser powder or baking soda to remove any lingering gardening dirt and germs.

Next, rinse thoroughly to get the powders off and wipe down.

Once it’s dry, restore life to the dull or dead blades with a sharpening tool. To increase its efficiency, consider lubricating with vegetable oil or water-resistant lubricant.

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What are the types of loppers?

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Primarily, there are two types of loppers: anvil and bypass.

Bypass loppers are the most standard type; they are characterized by a sharp single-edged blade that cuts past a thick base as it closes down.

On the other hand, anvil loppers use a mechanism that slices to the center of the thick base. Even though they’re less precise than bypass loppers, they produce more pressure and are the perfect tool for cutting dead branches.

What technique should I use to prune my garden?

When manicuring your garden, start by wearing sturdy gloves and goggles. Once you’re ready, place your blade at the cutting point. When using a bypass lopper, remember that the blade cuts past the thick base, and as such, would shift a quarter of an inch when you flip the tool.

Next, open your best loppers fully and cut in one swift movement. Avoid cutting it in bits, as it can dull the blade quickly and hurt your hands.

How does pruning help trees to thrive?

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There are many advantages of using the best loppers to prune your trees to help them grow strong and healthy. Firstly, pruning away branches that are infested with insects and other bacteria can save your tree’s life.

Secondly, pruning promotes new growth or suppresses growth, depending on your choice. Thirdly, it creates a safer environment as it gets rid of low-hanging branches and overgrown foliage that could hurt someone or cause damage to property.

Let’s explore how we evaluated the best loppers.

How We Created This Review

To bring you an unbiased review, we considered several factors. We looked at the blade design and selected only those made from carbon steel as they have high precision cuts.

We also made sure that our picks have long handles with ergonomic designs to promote comfort and maneuverability.

Furthermore, we analyzed customer reviews to gain in-depth product knowledge. Now that you understand how we tackled this review, let’s get into some of the best loppers in the market today.

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5 Best Loppers to Keep Your Garden Under Control

If your goal is to keep your garden in check, we’ve got you covered. Let’s explore the best loppers that promote efficiency and beautiful gardens.

1. Fiskars Bypass Lopper

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Fiskars develops innovative tools that make gardening and other household activities enjoyable. The Fiskars Bypass Lopper features a fully hardened, precision-ground steel blade that cuts branches up to 1.5 inches in diameter.

Additionally, it has a low-friction coating that helps it to glide effortlessly through the wood without getting stuck.

It also has shock-absorbing bumpers to make the pruning process easier without causing discomfort and strain to the wrists and palms.

Fiskars Bypass Lopper is 28 inches in length and has a non-slip grip for easy maneuverability. The gardening tool is rust-resistant and affordable. It lives up to its reputation of being one of the best loppers and has high customer ratings as proof of its efficiency.

2. TABOR TOOLS GG12 Anvil Loppers

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If you’re looking for the best loppers that have a two-inch clean-cut capability, then this is the garden tool for you.

TABOR TOOLS GG12 Anvil Lopper bites through branches effortlessly to remove dry and woody growth quickly. The gardening tool has advanced technology as it’s built for professional-grade work, specifically, preparatory cuts and cut-to-length work.

It features a hardened carbon steel blade that’s designed to remain sharp after heavy and prolonged usage.

We love that the rubberized grips on the 22-inch handle provide a comfortable but sturdy grip. This 30-inch model will empower you to reach higher and farther without straining your wrists.

3. Gonicc Professional Anvil Lopper

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We present to you, one of the best loppers that have a two-inch diameter cutting capacity. Gonicc Professional Anvil Lopper can cut up to two inches of a fresh branch, and dried branches within a quarter of a diameter.

The manual device depends on its SK5 high carbon steel blades to provide an ultra-strong and incredibly sharp functionality. It features an ergonomic handle made from a combination of stainless steel and rubber to ensure slip-resistance, effortless maneuverability, and hand comfort.

For your convenience, these loppers are multi-functional — they’re perfect for cutting and trimming branches, shrubs, and lawns. The Gonicc Professional Anvil Lopper measures in at 30-inches and has 22-inch handles.

4. Corona Compound Action Anvil Lopper

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This is a 32-inch anvil lopper that cuts branches up to 1.5 inches in diameter. It features fiberglass handles covered in non-slip foam grips to provide sturdy support. The handles are eight inches in length to help you reach higher and farther, even at ground level.

The lopper also makes use of a four-bar compound linkage to triple your cutting power.

You no longer have to exert pressure when cutting your branches as the blade will glide through effortlessly without collecting sap and debris along the way.

Corona Compound Action Anvil Lopper has high carbon steel with non-stick coating. The edge is sharpenable and can withstand seasonal wear and tear.

5. Felco Expert Loppers

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These loppers consist of aluminum fiber tubes designed with advanced cutting technology. It has a 1.4-inch diameter cutting capacity to provide you with the clean-cut and trimming that your garden truly deserves.

When shopping, you can pick a 16, 20, or 24-inch lopper, depending on your landscaping and pruning needs. We should note that the straight head utilizes slide-resistant anvil blades to promote high precision cuts and extreme functionality without added pressure.

Felco Expert Loppers have a shock absorption system to cushion the impact of cuttings and trimmings, to protect your hands and wrists.

Selecting and Maintaining Your Garden Loppers

Before you choose the best garden loppers, you need to have a vision for your garden. Whether you intend to cultivate more significant trees or maintain a specific size, the right loppers will play a key role in bringing your vision to life.

If you can, opt for those that have rust resistance, sturdy grip, and no-slip coating.

To extend the lifespan of your loppers, you need to have better maintenance practices. Make it a point to wipe them down after use, and store away from direct sunlight. Another good tip is to sharpen the blade as soon as you notice dullness or decreased efficiency.

When buying the best loppers, check if the manufacturer sells standalone blades in case your loppers require a replacement in the future.

How have loppers helped you to keep your garden in check? What feature do you look forward to exploring? Share your thoughts below.

Flower Box Ideas for the Creative (And Practical) Gardener

Ah, flowers. Not only are they pretty to look at, but a lot of them play a crucial part in our ecosystem without us even knowing it. (Most of the time, that is.) So whether you’re just looking to bring some color to your outdoor decor or giving a helping hand in saving the bees, we know you want to use the best flower box ideas.

But with so many plant species, box designs, and wildlife to consider, where would you even start? Don’t worry about it, because it’s really not that complicated once you have all your ducks in a row and all your seeds are sown.

Flower Box Who?

If you want to apply some flower box ideas to your home, you should probably know what a flower box is. A flower box is another name for a window box, which is a planter but is often confused with a popular gift-giving trend.

The gift-giving trend is simply giving someone a box of neatly arranged cut flowers. The flower boxes we’re talking about can attach to your windows or simply stand alone.

And before you can pretty up your flower boxes, you need to take proper care of them. But the care depends on what kind of flowers and plant life you put inside, and what the box itself is made out of. For wooden flower boxes, you may want to consider waterproofing it, if it doesn’t come that way.

For metal boxes, you want them to be clean and rust-free. But for both of these options, you want them to have good drainage. Drainage is important because additional water trapped at the bottom of your flower box can cause your plant’s roots to rot, and even damage wooden boxes. But that’s not the only important factor to flower box care.

Location, Location, Location

Believe it or not, something as trivial as where you place your flower boxes can factor into how well they do. This all depends on what kind of plants you plan of putting in your flower boxes, as well as your climate.

If you have a lot of windows facing where the sun hits your house the most, choose plants that love the sun. If your windows hardly get any sun, choose some plants that are a little lower-key. It’s all about how your home is built, where your windows are, and how much sun your plants should get.

However, no matter where your windows face, we must give you this little slice of gardening advice. If you don’t have gutters, make sure that when it rains the water doesn’t come crashing down onto your plants, because this will kill them. Make sure your flower boxes aren’t directly under the slant of your roof.

Planning Out Your Flower Box Ideas

There are some other things to keep in mind when executing your flower box ideas. Let’s begin with your climate. Is it chilly or hot where you live? What’s the time of year? Does it rain often or is it a near-constant dry spell?

These are the things you need to keep in mind, so your flower box ideas are successful instead of withered and gray.

Another important factor is allergies. Make sure no one in your house is allergic to any flowers you may be planting. And don’t forget to do your research on what plants and flowers are toxic to dogs and cats. Some of those flowers may be pretty, but they’re not worth your pet’s life.

Now that we have all of that out of the way, it’s time for the cutest and most practical flower box ideas we could find!

Flower boxes that are all the buzz

If you didn’t already know, many types of bees are endangered due to global warming, loss of habitat, and pesticides. Bees are essential because they pollinate everything; therefore, they have a hand supporting every living thing on our planet.

One way you can help is by planting a bee-friendly garden — or flower box!

Our cute, fuzzy, pollinating friends are drawn to a beautiful, blooming flower box filled with lots of brightly colored flowers that both you and the bees will enjoy! A combination of any of the following will do.

  • Lavender
  • Poppies
  • Black-eyed Susans
  • Mint
  • Lantana
  • Snapdragons
  • Pale purple coneflowers

With a wide range of colors and scents, your home will have lovely pops of color while helping to save the bees. That’s a win/win if we’ve ever seen one!

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Something to tweet about

Another few flower box ideas for our tiny flying pals involve hummingbirds! Hummingbirds are adorable little friends that feed solely on nectar, and having them in and around your garden is always a treat. Some pretty flowers that will bring them your way are:

  • Petunias
  • Pincushion flower
  • Catmint
  • Iris
  • Coral bells
  • Zinnias

Some of the plants here, like the zinnia, for example, come in lots of different colors. Matching them up with a color scheme or theme will not only be easy, but you’ll be keeping your feathered friends fed.

Spicing it up

Another pretty and practical bit of inspiration for your flower box ideas is an herb box. Herbs are wonderful to grow right outside your window because you can simply open your window and grab a sprig of whatever you need.

If you’re not exactly big on cooking, or you’re just beginning to experiment with homegrown herbs, choose a few easily grown and cared for herbs that you know you’ll enjoy. Some great picks are:

  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Chamomile

Not only can you dress your dishes, but you can also grow plants like chamomile to make your own tea at home! And don’t let our choices limit you! Branch out, learn what you like, and grow a little bit of flavor right outside your kitchen window.

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Say “hi” to cacti

Now all these flowers sound nice, but for hotter, drier climates where the heat just doesn’t stop requires something much hardier. If you’re living in a desert or just the South, cacti and succulents may be the best, easy-care option for you.

But if your hat is still hung on flowers, don’t worry a bit! There are colorful cactuses and flowering cacti out there. Some great options are:

  • The prickly pear cactus
  • Aloe vera
  • Hedgehog cacti
  • The Cholla cactus

But keep in mind that just because these plants can survive in hotter climates, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need water at all. There’s a difference between surviving and thriving. So remember to check the tags on how to care for your cactuses!

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Time to Refill the Watering Can

Now that your boxes are up, your flowers are planted, and your flower box ideas have been executed, take a step back and admire your work! Your house should have a few more pops of color after you finish planting, and hopefully a little more life, too.

Whatever color scheme you went with, or the types of herbs you’ve grown, or if your home attracts bees, butterflies or hummingbirds, we hope your flower box ideas turned out nicely.

What sort of plants did you choose for your boxes? Do you have any flower box ideas you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments below! Don’t forget to water your plants and best of luck in your gardening adventures!

Starting Your Own Indoor Garden: Everything You Need to Know

indoor garden with tomatoes

Gardening has been a beloved pastime for people since the olden days. Before the concept of an indoor garden came to be, rich Egyptians in ancient times rested in the shade of trees to escape the heat and relax.

It wasn’t long before they thought to create wall-enclosed gardens and plant their trees in attractive rows. In addition to decorative species, they also planted food trees like nuts, figs, and dates.

The Egyptians added gardens to their temples because they believed that the gods enjoyed them. They didn’t separate gardens for produce and gardens for pleasure, mixing the two types of plants instead. Y

ou may think that gardens are a seasonal thing, but the fact is that you can have one year-round. Indoor gardens cleanse the air in your house, make your space look more attractive, and give you delicious edible plants all year.

Indoor gardens are an especially good idea for people who live in cities and have limited space or no yard. You can even start growing inside and move the plants to the outdoors once spring rolls around if you have enough space.

What Is Indoor Gardening?

Indoor gardening is exactly what it sounds like: growing plants inside. You can have one in any enclosed area including a restaurant, your office, or your home.

It’s been proven that seeing a garden landscape can have a very positive impact on you. And not only is it an enjoyable pastime, but it brings you many benefits, which we’ll discuss below.

An indoor garden can take many forms from vertical farming to hydroponic gardening and container plants. An indoor garden can mean growing strictly herbs and vegetables, decorative trees and flowers, or provide a way to get a head start on that year’s growing season.

Why should you consider starting an indoor garden?

The Benefits of Gardening

Gardening is not only fun but also comes with an array of benefits. Below are some of the advantages of gardening.

Mood and stress relief

Studies suggest that gardening can be an effective stress-reliever. In our harried modern world, this isn’t something you should ignore. Spending more time around plants may lead you to experience lifted moods from day to day.

Improved self-esteem

Gardening can lower levels of cortisol in the body, a stress hormone. This hormone can impact more than just your mood and is related to memory, heart disease risk, obesity, and more. Your brain hormones impact the level of self-esteem you feel and gardening can have a very positive impact on how you view yourself.

Decreased dementia risk

One study conducted in 2006 found that you can lower your risk of getting dementia by as much as 36 percent by taking up gardening. If you’re getting older and want to protect your mind, starting an indoor garden could be a good place to begin.

Exercise

Gardening regularly is a good way to fit more exercise into your routine. As you twist and bend to pick things up, reach for tools and plants, and pull weeds, you’ll be working your muscles and improving your flexibility. The best part of this type of exercise is that it feels more like fun than work.

Hand dexterity

As you get older, strength and dexterity diminishes in your hands and other parts of the body. As you lose flexibility and your power to grip, the range of pleasurable activities you can do decreases significantly. Well, you may be happy to know that gardening can help your hands stay agile and vigorous as you age. Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t push it too far or you might actually strain your hands a bit too much. Try to alternate which hand you’re using for various gardening tasks in order to give yourself a break.

Improved relationship with veggies

Some people think that they don’t like vegetables at all. As we get older, we often change our minds about foods, but if you’re still the type who doesn’t like veggies, an indoor garden may help.

When you grow your own vegetables, you’re putting time, focus, and care into the process. One study suggests that people who garden enjoy eating their own vegetables more and are also likelier to get the amount they need.

What to Consider With an Indoor Garden

As with any other hobby or interest, keeping an indoor garden comes with its own set of unique considerations. We have listed some things you’ll need to think about before you get started, below.

Space

The amount of space your garden will require is really up to you. Even if you live in a tiny studio apartment, you can still make room for your garden. Many people grow herbs and vegetables on their table or windowsill, while others dedicate larger spaces to their gardens.

Look for an area with a linoleum or tile floor to prevent it from being ruined by water. If you only have carpet to work with, you can protect the floor with a tarp. Another option is using shelving to save some space. Just make sure you’re allowing your plants to get adequate light if you go with shelves.

Light

You can’t have an indoor garden without light. Your plants will need to photosynthesize to survive and will need access to enough sunlight if you want them to fruit or flower. Even windowsill plants may not have access to enough light to grow to their full potential, so getting a grow light could be a good idea.

You can’t use a regular light bulb and instead need to get a light especially for growing plants. Keep it as close to your plants as you can without burning them.

As a general rule, your plants should get between 14 and 16 hours of simulated light or sunlight per day. But if your plant isn’t getting enough, you’ll be able to tell because it will turn a lighter shade and have thin stems with small leaves.

Temperature

Most plants need temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive, although they’ll probably do fine with up to 10-degrees variance in either direction. If your plants get too hot, they’ll be weak and small. Plants that you grow in cold conditions will turn yellow and lose their leaves.

You may want to consider getting an autopilot thermostat to control the temperature in your indoor garden. This will allow you to choose different settings for day and night temperatures and keep your plants healthy and happy.

Humidity

Not having enough humidity in your house can present a challenge for your garden. Winter is typically a drier season than summer, and having your heater on in the house might make matters more difficult for your indoor garden space. So, how can you tell if you’re having an issue with low humidity?

If your plants start losing their leaves, look puckered or withered, and have brown tips, you’ll know that you need to increase the humidity in your garden. You can do this by misting your plants, getting a humidifier, or by putting your plants closer together.

Soil

When it comes to growing plants indoors, soil preparation is a key component of the process. With the right soil, you’ll have a healthy foundation and a good environment for your plants to thrive. If you skimp on this essential factor, you’ll get non-productive or weak plants that are more susceptible to infestations.

You can’t use soil that you find outside to grow indoor plants as this might bring weed seeds or pests in with it. Instead, find a mix that is specially designed for indoor plants. An alternative option is creating your own potting mix.

Hydroponics

Instead of using a soil mixture to grow your indoor garden, you can try out a hydroponics system. Hydroponics gives your plants nutrients directly without needing to use soil.

Hydroponics comes with some benefits including faster plant growth, being able to use smaller containers, and a lower risk of infection from diseases or pests. Growing with hydroponics also means your plants are less likely to spread infestations to each other since they’re more separated.

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Choosing the Right Grow Light

When you start looking into grow lights, you’ll soon notice that there are countless options out there. In order for your indoor garden to thrive to the best of its ability, you can’t skimp on this. Here are some of the types of lighting systems available for you to choose from:

Fluorescent lights

Fluorescent lights are best for growing plants or herbs that don’t need much light. You shouldn’t use fluorescent lights for plants that are flowering or budding since plants in these stages require more light than this type of product can give off. Fluorescent lighting has the benefit of being inexpensive and easy to find at your local garden supply center or hardware store.

Compact fluorescent lights

As opposed to ordinary fluorescent lights, compact fluorescent systems are efficient and bright. These are smaller than other types of fluorescent lighting and are suitable for all varieties of plants. They also won’t create as much heat as other types of lights, allowing you to place them closer to the plants.

Incandescent lights

While these lights don’t cost much and are easy to find, incandescent lights are only suitable for growing houseplants. For an indoor garden, on the other hand, you’ll probably want something with a bit more strength like the other two types listed above.

LED Grow Lights

LED grow lights are the latest in horticultural technology, and as the demand grows, the price comes down considerably. LED grow lights feature several key benefits: they don’t put off excess heat in your home and they use much less electricity than other light sources.

Another key benefit to LED grow lights is the ability to control the color spectrum the lamp produces. Plants require blue light for germination and initial growth, but later development requires light in the red range of the spectrum.

How to Deal With a Pest Infestation

Finding pests on your plants is never any fun. If your houseplants are under attack by indoor plant pests, you can use insecticidal soap or biological pesticides to take care of the problem. These solutions have the benefit of being gentle, lowering the risk of harming children or pets in the home. Make sure you carefully read labels on the products you use for pests to check that it won’t cause any harm.

When you can, look for organic pesticides as these may be healthier for the plants and for you. Wash your plants with water and a gentle cleanser, rinsing the leaves with warm water afterward. You can also remove webs, cocoons, or egg sacs found on your plants using a ball of cotton and isopropyl alcohol.

How to Avoid a Pest Infestation

It’s much easier to prevent pests from ever infesting your plants than it is to deal with an infestation. One method for removing or preventing pests is using other plants that have repelling properties to keep insects away, such as marigolds. Choosing to use these plants will save you money and time, and presents a more natural solution for controlling an infestation.

Healthy plants are better at fighting off pests or at least being less affected by them. Know the needs for each of your plants to help them grow better. Keep them in bright areas and as close to light sources as you can.

Use the right amount of fertilizer as they grow and only choose quality ingredients if you make your own. Only use pasteurized potting mixes and keep your plants isolated from each other after setting them up to prevent the pests from spreading.

You can also use catnip to repel many indoor pests like squash bugs, flea beetles, aphids, and weevils. Keep a small satchel of dried catnip near your garden. If your flowers or foliage have been severely infested, try washing the plant with a special insecticidal soap to remove or prevent indoor garden pests.

Ready for Delicious Veggies Year-Round?

An indoor garden is a beautiful, enjoyable way to clean your air, improve your moods, and even feed yourself. When you add growing plants to your home, you’re getting more than some extra beauty in your house. You can prepare your seasonal garden ahead of time by planting plants indoors to move outside come springtime. You’ll have gifts to give your loved ones in the form of home-grown veggies or beautiful flowers. And as soon as you switch to having an indoor garden, you’ll probably never want to go back!

Why You Need a Gardening Hat and Other Protective Gear

woman outside wearing a brown gardening hat picking orange carrots.

Many people see a gardening hat as useful only to keep the sun out of their eyes while tending their garden. While it’s helpful for keeping your vision clear when working outdoors, it also performs a much more important function. A gardening hat also protects your head, eyes, ears, and face from radiation damage.

People with outdoor gardens spend lots of time exposed to the sun. That means they also have increased exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Fortunately, protection from these harmful rays is not complicated or expensive. You can do it with something as simple as the shade from a gardening hat.

Related Read: Gardening Accessories For Every Color Thumb

Choosing the right gardening hat is more than a matter of style. You want it to protect your skin and eyes from harmful UV rays, but you also want one that will be comfortable. After all, if your hat isn’t comfortable, you’re more likely to take it off and expose yourself once again to the beating sun.

Hopefully, we can help you choose a gardening hat that will become second-nature to your gardening habits.

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Why You Need Protection from the Sun

Ultraviolet rays produced by the sun can cause several serious health problems. Most people understand that over-exposure to the sun can produce a bad sunburn and possible skin cancer. However, some people are oblivious to other issues that can result from lesser levels of sun exposure.

Eventually, even short periods of exposure to sunlight can result in damage to the structure of the skin and your eyes. Over 90 percent of reported skin cancers are directly related to long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. And roughly 33 percent of these skin cancers occur on the face.

Not only can long-term exposure to the sun cause these problems, but other less controllable factors will also increase the likelihood of developing sunburn, skin cancer, or skin damage. For example, individuals with red or blond hair, freckles, light skin, blue or green eyes, or skin moles also face an increased danger.

Increased sensitivity to UV rays can also result from taking certain medications. Blood pressure medication, antibiotics, retinoids (such as acne medication), and antidepressants can all increase your sensitivity to UV rays. Family history can also play a part in your susceptibility to damage. If you have family members who have developed skin cancers, that is an indicator of an increased chance of developing the same.

Sloggers Women's Wide Brim Braided Sun Hat with Wind Lanyard - Dark...

Characteristics of a Sun Protective Gardening Hat

Now that the danger is clear let’s explore what to look for in a protective gardening hat. The gardening hat you select should be comfortable and should fit you well. It won’t do you any good if you don’t want to wear it because it’s heavy, cumbersome, or just plain too hot. With that in mind, make sure you purchase a gardening hat that has three important characteristics.

1. It should be well ventilated. That will help prevent your head from sweating and maintain your comfort level.

2. It should be lightweight. A heavy hat can cause muscle and neck soreness after hours of gardening.

3. It should effectively block the sun’s UV rays to protect you.

Several factors determine the features of your gardening hat. Factors such as the material used, the thickness of that material, and the size of the brim all enter into this equation. A hat with a high UV protection rating will generally be based mostly on the material used. However, there are also other parts to this puzzle that impact your level of protection.

If you have a straw, thatch, or mesh hat, spaces between the materials can allow sunlight to get through. While the increased ventilation may make it more comfortable to wear, it offers less protection.

The width of the hat brim can also greatly affect the amount of protection the hat affords you. A good rule of thumb is that the wider the brim, the greater the protection. Also, a brim that angles down slightly will offer more protection than a flat one. Just don’t have it so droopy that it impairs your vision.

Other Features to Consider When Choosing a Gardening Hat

Although you are choosing a gardening hat for sun protection doesn’t mean that should be your only consideration. Some other features will make your gardening hat more comfortable, easier to maintain, and last longer.

It should offer some water resistance

A gardening hat that repels water is convenient. Not only will it keep your head dry in the rain, but it also stays lighter and cooler when the fabric is not soaked. If you tend to keep right on gardening when the rain starts, this is something you might want to consider.

Related Read: Tired of Rolling Hose? Check Out These Expandable Options!

It shouldn’t obstruct your view

A gardening hat should not block your vision. Some people have vertical gardens or hanging plants. Looking up and down often in a wide-brimmed hat can be an issue. You may not want a hat that hits your neck or back and pushes the front down over your face. A hat with an exceptionally floppy brim may block your side vision. That may mean you’ll have to rotate your torso just to glance to the right or left.

It should stay on your head

A hat with a chin strap or sliding-bead cord will come in handy to keep it on your noggin on windy days. The strap will also keep it from falling off when you bend over to tend your plants. Preferably, it will have a strap or cord that you can retract or remove when necessary. It will keep it out of your way when it is not needed. Sometimes simply putting the strap or cord behind your head when you put it on will do the trick.

It should be washable

We said you should look for a water-resistant hat, but it shouldn’t be waterproof. The ability to wash your gardening hat in the washing machine can be a real convenience and time saver. Even if it’s not machine-washable, you should be able to wash it by hand and set it out to dry. Avoid choosing a hat that will shrink, become deformed, or lose structural integrity if you wash it with detergent and water.

A gardening hat made of quick-drying material also helps to provide some measure of evaporative cooling. On hot days, you can soak your hat with water, wring it out and put it on. The resulting evaporation will help keep you cool on hot days, although this works less well on particularly humid days.

Fabric types

The type of fabric used for your gardening hat impacts comfort, protection level, and ventilation in one way or another. Cotton, hemp, raffia, and straw are all cool to wear on hot days. However, they may not be water-resistant. Nylon and polyester are more water-resistant, but may not offer as much ventilation.

Fabric colors

Along with the fabric used to make your gardening hat, the color of the fabric can also make a bigger difference than just a fashion statement. It can impact the hat’s temperature. Darker colors absorb the heat of sunlight more than lighter colors, which reflect it. That means that a black or dark hat will absorb more heat, and thus be hotter on your head, than a brighter colored or white hat. You may want to choose several gardening hats for different seasons based on materials and color choices.

Sloggers Women's Wide Brim Braided Sun Hat with Wind Lanyard - Dark...

What UPF Ratings Mean

UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) is a rating given to clothing that is similar to the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating for sunscreen and sunglasses. However, SPF applies only to effectiveness against the more dangerous and damaging UVB rays. In contrast, UPF indicates a fabric’s ability to protect you from UV-A and UV-B light. Therefore, the higher the UPF rating, the more protection the material affords you from ultraviolet rays.

For example, a 25 UPF rating means that the fabric will only allow about 4 percent of ambient UV radiation to pass. A 50 UPF rating permits about 2 percent of ambient UV radiation. Manufacturers label all materials that permit less than 2 percent UV transmission as UPF 50+. Note that materials that offer less than a 15 UPF rating are considered insufficient for UV protection.

It doesn’t matter what material types, color, treatments, or thickness used to construct your gardening hat. The manufacturer will have already considered these before awarding the UPF rating. If there is no UPF rating indicated, a good rule of thumb is to hold various hats up to the light. The more light comes through the fabric, the more UV light will get through.

Additional Sun Protection

We have given you a lot of things to think about when choosing a gardening hat to protect yourself. Still, there are a few more smart habits that can save your skin when you garden. The following are some of the most effective methods of combating UV radiation and protecting yourself against skin cancer and sun damage.

Sunblock

Naturally, you should always apply sunscreen to unprotected areas of your skin. However, even with a quality gardening hat, it is still a good idea to have at least a light application of sunblock on your face. UV rays can reflect off of standing water, pots, table surfaces, sand, and even snow.

It doesn’t matter what direction they come from, UV rays still pose a threat. Also, remember that even small doses can cause serious problems over time. Health experts recommended that you apply a UV protective lip balm as well.

Sunglasses

You may think that a gardening hat will be enough to protect your eyes from danger and damage. Besides, when the sun shines in your eyes, you immediately close them. But, remember, UV radiation can be responsible for more than just a sunburned face.

The lenses in your eyes do exactly the same thing inside your eyeball as a magnifying glass does to paper on a sunny day — intensifying the light and causing damage.

Excessive sun radiation damages your eyes, and the UV radiation that causes problems is cumulative. It can build up over a lifetime and have a devastating and permanent effect on your eyes and your eyesight. Wearing sunglasses with a good UV protection rating can help protect them from damage.

Short term issues such as Photokeratitis (inflammation of the cornea) occurs when conjunctiva (mucous membranes on the front of the eyeball and inside of the lids) are inflamed by UV radiation. That can happen when you look directly at the sun.

The UV reflecting from snow, sand, or an intense light source such as a welder’s arc can cause this as well. It is the same phenomena that cause “snow blindness.” While this can be debilitating, and even painful, it usually clears up in no more than a day or two.

Longer exposure to UV rays can cause cumulative issues. That is why farmers develop cataracts at a higher rate than people who work indoors. Overexposure to UV rays can also be responsible for retina and cornea damage. Cataracts (clouding of the eye lens), Pterygium (also known as “surfer’s eye”), and macular degeneration (loss of central vision) can happen from long-term exposure to UV radiation.

A Time to Plant, a Time to Reap

To reduce your exposure to damaging ultraviolet rays, try to time your gardening around the cooler times of the day. Early morning and late afternoon are ideal for avoiding the most excessive UV rays (if not the mosquitoes).

Either way, it is best to avoid gardening between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This lets you avoid the times of the most intense and dangerous UV radiation.

Another good rule of thumb is: If your shadow is shorter than you are, you are out at a time of maximum radiation. If you can’t avoid gardening during these hours, minimize the sun’s impact by doing as much as possible in a shaded area.

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Tips for Reducing Sun Damage When Gardening

Here are a few tips that will not only shorten your time in the sun but also make gardening easier and more enjoyable.

  • Plan ahead. Weeding is one of the worst jobs in the garden. Mulching and laying down barrier cloth will help you avoid having to weed any more than necessary.
  • Don’t over-extend yourself. Work short periods of time and remember to take lots of breaks out of the sun.
  • Let the water do the work. Try using a soaker hose or sprinkler where possible to avoid having to water your plants extended times in the sun.
  • Take it inside. On bright sunny days, stay inside. Do all those little jobs that don’t require direct interaction with your outdoor garden, such as starting seeds or cleaning tools.
  • And finally, don’t forget to water yourself when you’re watering your plants! Drink plenty of water. Not coffee, not cola, not tea, and certainly not energy drinks. Hydrate yourself before you begin and after you’re finished gardening for the day. Always keep a supply of cool (not cold) water available while you are doing your gardening.

What Kind of Gardening Hat Will You Choose?

As you now know, protection from the sun is not just protection from a minor inconvenience. That big, bright ball of churning nuclear explosions has the power to fry an egg on the sidewalk. Protect yourself from it constantly and in every way you possibly can. UV rays can come at you from every angle.

Protect your skin, protect your face, and protect your eyes. A good UPF-rated gardening hat will go a long way towards getting that done. Years from now, when you can still read this article, you’ll be glad you did.

Does Grass Seed Expire? How to Store and Care for Grass Seed

does grass seed expire

It’s spring and you’re looking out on your lawn thinking that it’s time to lay down some seed. You meant to do it last year and you even bought a bag or two, but you never got around to actually doing the deed. Now you’re wondering, “Does grass seed expire?” If you don’t have to buy more grass seed, you don’t want to, right? So, knowing this answer can not only save you some money but lessen your waste.

And once you know how to care for grass seed, it becomes much easier to know if it’s expired or not.

Does Grass Seed Expire?

Yes, grass seed does expire. However, there’s a big difference between “expired” and “dead” for grass seeds.

When items that we eat — such as prepared goods or fruits — expire, that item can no longer be used for its original purpose. With grass, it isn’t quite the same. Expired grass seeds are less likely to germinate when planted, meaning they may not sprout.

Because of this, expired seeds still can be planted. But there’s no guarantee whether they will or will not sprout.

When you find a bag that’s expired, don’t throw it out! There’s a chance they’ll sprout if you plant them, so while they aren’t something you can depend on, there’s no reason to toss them all.

Check expirations

When does grass seed expire? The bag that the seeds were sold in likely has an expiration date on it, but those dates are often estimated. The seeds are not all exactly the same age, so they won’t expire on one set date.

In fact, they won’t be expiring anywhere near the same time as each other.

That’s because each individual seed has its own lifespan. “Expired” may mean that half of the grass is dead while the other half is perfectly fine and waiting to sprout. Each seed lives its own life.

That means you don’t have to worry about the entire bag of rice rotting away simultaneously.

Careful storage

You can also improve and extend the shelf life with proper care and storage. The shelf life of grass — the amount of time it can be stored before it expires — is around 2 to 3 years. That’s assuming you store it properly.

Proper storage, according to the Oregon State University Seed Laboratory, is temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and at low humidity. The cooler you can have it the better, but never let it freeze.

Freezing will immediately kill the grass seed. You’ll also want to have proper airflow and ventilation in the area to help with keeping moisture and heat down.

That means that a hot, humid summer is one of the worst things possible for your grass seed. Leaving it in an uncontrolled atmosphere like an outdoor shed will lower its shelf life drastically, so care for it.

When storing the grass seed, check often for moisture or rot. Moisture seeping into the storage container will hasten the growth and spread of mold and rot, destroying it swiftly.

You’ll also want to keep it in a rodent and pest-proof container to stop anything from eating the seeds before you plant them.

Test for life

When worrying about an expiration date, plant a few seeds and wait a week or so to see if they sprout. Place them in a small container with a wet paper towel and leave them in direct sunlight.

If most of them sprout, then your seeds are likely good to go. If few or none of them sprout, it’s a safe bet that most of the bag will also fail to germinate.

Just make sure your sample size is big enough — a teaspoon or so should do.

It’s a good idea to do some research into the brand and type of grass seed you’re using. Higher quality brands will provide more pure seed, whereas some lower quality products may fluff out their bags with chaff and other non-seed foliage.

Obviously, you want as much of your bag of grass seeds to be grass seeds, so aim for higher purity.

Type and freshness

As far as the type of grass, you’ll find some that last longer than others.

For example, ryegrass has the longest shelf life at five years. Again, that’s assuming it’s kept in ideal storage conditions — below 60 degrees F, low humidity, ventilation, no moisture, no pests.

With all that said, it’s best to keep your products fresh either way. Buying grass seed in bulk makes sense for landscapers and those with massive lawns, but you should only ever buy what you know you’ll use.

The sooner you get it in the ground, the sooner it’ll sprout, so leaving it in storage for a while will always make it a bit inferior to fresh seeds.

Any storage time is time where the seeds can be dying. Getting them in the ground as fast as possible means you won’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll expire.

Does grass seed expire? Yes, but that won’t be an issue if you use them while they’re still fresh!

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Out to the Field

With all of that said, we have our answer. Does grass seed expire? It certainly can, but it won’t expire all at once, and expired doesn’t mean unusable. Do your best to store your grass seeds properly to ensure that that their expiration doesn’t come soon.

Making sure that storage is kept up to snuff is the most important part. After that, just make sure that you’re planting the grass within a reasonable amount of time. Your grass will be looking healthy and full in no time.

Have you tried planting expired grass seed? Tell us about how it turned out in the comments!

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