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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Greenworks Pro 80V 18 Inch Chainsaw Review

When you think about power tools do you think electric? Maybe it's time you should! Recently Greenworks sent me their battery powered Greeworks Pro 80Volt 18" Chainsaw to test. I had some doubts. Could a battery powered chainsaw actually cut through well enough to be a part of my arsenal of power tools? Would a charge last long enough to get through all the jobs I would need to attack in one day? Would the chainsaw be able to be recharged fast enough to get back to work when it did run out of energy? Those were the questions in my head and probably the questions anyone wanting to purchase a new powertool would ask.



Before I tell you what I found out let's look at some of the advantages of a battery powered chainsaw. First, there is no gas needed. That saves from visiting the gas station and having to mix oil and gas before using. It does require chain oil to insure smooth operation so you aren't completely fossil fuel free but you are pretty close.  A rechargeable battery system came with the chainsaw so, depending on which power sources your local utilities choose to use, you could be using green energy (wind, solar, hydro) to run the chainsaw.

The battery pack is heavy but that is necessary to retain the charge needed to run such a powerful tool and yes it is powerful. It easily cut through a 16-18" tree trunk I had sitting around. I actually ended up turning it into a bench with the chainsaw by shaving one side of the tree to make a seat.


The battery charge never ran out on me. I cut out 4 holly bushes and a tall Leyland cypress in one day and could have cut down several more before the charge ran out. I noticed that it charged to full in the battery charger fast. In the time it took me to eat dinner one evening the 80 Volt battery had a full charge.



The Greenworks chainsaw had no trouble with anything I tried to cut. It sliced through wood quickly and efficiently. What I really liked was being able to put the chainsaw down without having the motor running and making noise. When cutting wood you frequently have to move branches and logs to cut more and with a gas powered chainsaw you either have to leave it run or turn it off then restart it. The Greenworks chainsaw is off when you release the trigger so the only noise happens when you are making your cuts. It has a safety button and a timeout setting so that it can't accidentally be turned on when you don't want it on.

My other Bradford Pear Tree may be the next target!

My overall impression is that the chainsaw is a great tool for the home gardener for cutting trees and shrubs in the landscape. I think a landscape business could use this as well for trimming branches and removing trees as needed. Battery powered tools give us a way to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and gradually transition to a future with renewable energy. If you're looking for a chainsaw I definitely recommend considering the Greenworks Pro for your garden!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Redbuds in the Spring Garden (Cercis canadensis)

Spring in many ways is just like listening to your favorite song. The parts of the song that make it special to you are those that make you replay it countless times over and over again. The chorus of springtime is very much the same. Old favorites pop up again and again for us to enjoy. One of my favorite trees here in Tennessee is the redbud (Cercis canadensis). It's native to our area and blooms prolifically in the spring. There are areas of our state where the redbuds grow in such quantities that you feel like you are inside of a painting. Nature's artwork is hard to top!

redbuds in the home garden

redbuds in the home gardenIt's a special tree to others as well. Pollinators love the spring time blooms. Once they are in bloom it is hard to go near them without hearing a constant buzz from the bees as they gather pollen. Redbuds are actually a legume and produce seeds in pods each fall. Those seeds are the best way to propagate new redbud trees as it not only insures genetic diversity but (in this garden blogger's opinion) really is the easiest method! When the seeds are removed from the pod they will need cold stratification for a couple months. You may also need to nick the seed coat to allow water to penetrate inside. That will speed up germination significantly.

One other seed starting tip: soak the seeds before planting about 24 hours.

redbuds in the home garden

Many redbuds are grafted onto a seed grown root stock. This is the best way to reproduce special varieties that cannot be reproduced from seed. 

redbuds in the home garden

redbuds in the home gardenRedbuds are an understory tree, and while in some cases they can take a good deal of sun, they prefer partial sun. Morning sun and afternoon shade is perfect! Some redbud varieties, like 'Forest Pansy', have colored foliage that will eventually fade back to green in the heat of the spring. Because of their smaller size they are a great choice for small backyards and usually top out at around 20-30 feet. Redbuds can be grown in hardiness zones 5-8.

Do you grow redbuds in your garden?





Sunday, March 22, 2015

Springtime in the Garden (Photos)

Spring is here and the garden is most certainly coming alive! Unfortunately some freezing temperatures are in the forecast for later in the week here in Tennessee. Here's a quick look at what you will find in my garden at the moment!

Purple leaf plum and forsythia


I trimmed the forsythia back after it bloomed last year into more of a small shrub. They can get very large if you let them grow. Forsythias are an easy plant to propagate if you want more of them. Just take a cutting 4-5 inches long and place it in a pot of soil and keep moist. There is no need for rooting hormone to propagate forsythias!
 



I planted these 'Jonquil' daffodils in the fall. Daffodils are such and easy bulb to grow that everyone should have a few planted! They are as deer proof as anything gets.


I have tons of cilantro growing everywhere. I let it self-sow. It's great for attracting beneficial insects when it blooms so it is to your benefit to let a couple of them bolt. The seeds (AKA coriander) can be ground and used as a seasoning.


The hellebores are in bloom. They are another beauty that is left alone by deer and rabbits.


Our peaches and plums are beginning to bloom. The cold temperatures may create some issues for the blooms. I would much rather them wait to bloom until after the chance of freezing is over but they are as eager as everyone else is for spring.


How is spring coming along in your garden? 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Planting Azaleas from Monrovia

Today was a fantastic day to be outdoors, and of course for most of the time being outdoors means I'm planting something! Today I planted three azaleas into one of my gardens courtesy of Monrovia. Monrovia gave me an opportunity to try out these 'Savannah Sunset' azaleas in my garden. 'Savannah Sunset' is a part of Monrovia's Bloom N' Again collection of repeat blooming azaleas. They will bloom in the spring then produce more blooms in the fall!

When planting any plant the location is very important. Azaleas generally prefer a part sun location with an acidic soil. If your soil isn't acidic you can amend with a soil acidifier for hydrangeas or blueberries.


As you can see I situated my azaleas in the back yard near my blue shed. The soil here is very rich and the shade produce by the trees nearby should create the right location for the azaleas.


When planting azaleas make sure that the top of the root crown is slightly above the soil level. You don't want to bury the crown and accidentally produce rot or fungal diseases.


'Savannah Sunset' gets about 3-4 feet tall and wide. I have them spaced so that they grow together into a small hedge between two crape myrtles trees. The azaleas will produce flowers in the spring then will become a backdrop for perennials that I will plant later in front of them. Any suggestions?


The next step will be to add a layer of mulch. Pine needles are an excellent choice for around acid loving plants but I'll be going with something more readily available - leaves! I have a large pile of leaves that I will use to mulch around the azaleas in this garden. They will break down and nourish the soil while still keeping moisture in and around the plants,

3 Steps to Add a Flowering Shrub to the Garden
  1. Choose the right location
  2. Plant the plant correctly. 
  3. Mulch properly.
Look here to see what other Monrovia plants might be great for your garden: Monrovia Plants. I'm excited to see how these new azaleas perform in my garden!