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The Enabled Gardener: Essential Tools

first printed in Pond & Garden July/Aug 2001
By Josh Spece

Water gardening is generally thought of as a relatively low maintenance form of gardening…no weeding required, no need to worry about keeping plants watered, and with careful planning, no need to haul anything in for the winter. Let’s not kid ourselves, though. If we want a beautiful, healthy pond, there are a few tasks that we must keep up on. Ponders with physical limitations may find some maintenance tasks difficult, but with the right tools and a little practice most are doable.

The one tool I would never be without is my net. It is always nearby for easy access. A net has many uses other than catching fish. It’s great for skimming tree leaves and other debris that blows into the pond from the surface of the water. Keep it handy during feeding time to remove any excess fish food so it doesn’t foul the water. During the summer, a sturdy net is perfect for thinning out the water hyacinths and other floating plants. Turn the net around and the handle makes a good stick to push floating plants out of the way or get that water lily pot in just the right place.

When you buy a net, or any tool, make sure you get one that will work for you. If you have week arms, make sure it is lightweight enough for you to handle. Also, make sure the actual netting doesn’t have too big of holes, otherwise small items will fall through. Finally, try to find a net that will easily reach halfway across your pond. That way you can reach any point in your pond from shore.

Removing dead leaves and faded flowers is a constant task. Often a light tug is all that is needed, but some stems are just too tough and stubborn, so they have to be cut. Depending on your abilities, you may actually find it easier to cut rather than pinch or break a stem. Regular pruning shears may work well, but I personally find them heavy and difficult to work. I find a small, sharp pair of scissors much easier to use. Again, try a few different designs and sizes to see what works best for you.

A tool my grandmother discovered is a 3 pronged claw or “rake” that is normally used to weed or hoe between garden plants. It works great to slide large pots into position in the center of the pond. If you pot your plant is nursery containers that have handles or a lip around the top, it is very easy to hook a tine under it and pull the plant to the side of the pond where it is then within easy reach to prune and fertilize.

Pond maintenance doesn’t have to be time consuming and difficult. These are just a few ways I’ve been able to come up with to make it easier…I’m sure you have a few tricks of your own. If you have a technique to make pond care easier for someone with a disability, please share it with me so I can share it with the P&G readers!

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