Environmentally correct products and new mechanical devices promise to make lawn care a little easier this spring.
Among the latest yard goods are a natural garlic spray that repels insects; a copper tape that gives snails and slugs a little electric buzz to keep them off plants and trees; Teflon barrier tape or spray that keeps insects at bay, and a nontoxic lure to attract pest-eating ladybugs.
In the tool department, a new mower attachment lets you fertilize as you mow, and a super-powered vacuum/blower picks up everything from aluminum cans to wet leaves.
Insects, Take This: Garlic Barrier Insect Repellent, distributed by Garlic Research Labs, smells when first sprayed on plants and trees, but the odor lingers only a few minutes. But insects can apparently still smell it--and don't like it.
The trick is to spray before infestation, says Bill Anderson of the Los Angeles firm. The repellent doesn't kill bugs; it discourages them from attacking treated plants. "The garlic spray is absorbed by the plant and when whiteflies come by, they will go on to the neighbor's," he says.
Garlic Barrier, available in garden centers nationwide, is made from garlic oil and water and biodegrades rapidly. It's harmless to people, pets and ground water. Just mix one part repellent to 10 parts water and spray plants, including vegetables, fruit trees and vine crops.
Locally, Garlic Barrier can be found at Armstrong's garden stores. A pint is $9.95; quart, $16.95. It also comes in large drums for agricultural use.
And a Jolt of This: SureFire Products, manufactured by Consep Inc. in Bend, Ore., is introducing three new bug barriers without pesticides. Two consist of adhesive-backed tapes, the third is a spray.
Due out next month is Slug & Snail Copper Barrier Tape, a 15-foot roll of 1 1/2-inch copper tape that gives off a minor electrical charge. It can be placed around trees, plants, planters, patio furniture, raised flowers and garden beds. The tape surface should be kept clean with an occasional wiping.
Already on garden store shelves nationwide are Teflon Insect Barrier Tape and Teflon Insect Barrier Spray. Each creates a surface too slippery for insects to climb. The two-inch tape comes in a 30-foot roll for use on trees, bird feeders, trash cans, doghouses, etc. The spray, in a two-ounce can, may be applied to dog or cat food dishes to keep out ants and other crawling insects.
If either the tape or the sprayed object gets wet, it is ineffective until it dries. Fortunately, both seem to dry quickly.
The suggested retail price for the copper tape, the Teflon tape and the spray is $6.99 each. The copper tape will be sold at True Value hardware stores. The Teflon products are available at True Value and Ace Hardware outlets and selected lawn and garden centers.
Calling All Ladybugs: SureFire has renamed its Bug Charm lures--now Ladybug Lures--but they still attract beneficial bugs to the garden.
According to K. Curt Rymer, director of consumer products for Consep Inc., the lures are designed to release a synthesized chemical simulating the scent of aphids. Ladybugs and other aphid-eaters pick up the scent from the lure, which hangs on a tree branch, and hang out in the area. One lure lasts about two to three weeks.
Ladybug Lures, three to a box, cost $6.99 and can be found at lawn and garden and hardware stores nationwide.
Chow Time: Mulching mowers, the kind that return lawn clippings to the turf, have been out for several years. Now, Toro has introduced an accessory, the Mow and Feed Fertilizer Spreader, that simultaneously mows and fertilizes.
A plastic hopper mounts on the handlebars of Toro or Lawn-Boy mowers, and the rear mower wheels power the spreader. A clutch system automatically stops the flow of fertilizer when the mowers stops or backs up. The hopper is lightweight (about 10 pounds) and holds enough fertilizer to cover 8,000 square feet.
Mow and Feed, with a suggested retail price of about $50, is available nationwide at Toro or Lawn-Boy dealers or at Home Depot stores.
A Real Blowhard: Gator Vac, a vacuum/blower from Weed Eater, is some cleaner. It can pick up pine cones, aluminum cans and wet leaves along with grass and hedge clippings.
The 10-pound Gator Vac, with a long green gator-like snout, converts from a blower to a vac with the twist of a dial, requiring no tools or additional parts. Debris is sucked into a transparent, bottom-mounted collection bag so the operator can easily see when it is full. The bag snaps on and off for easy emptying.
The vac/blower has a 1.5-horsepower electric motor and may be used with an extension cord up to 100 feet. It also comes with a detachable shoulder harness.
Gator Vac, with a suggested retail price of $89.99, is available nationally at all Weed Eater dealers, Wal-Mart, Coast to Coast and True Value hardware stores.