Friday, 6 February 2015

Heavy Pot Lifting Straps

Share the load.

Large pot plants are at the top of the list of objects that are awkward to lift and carry. This is a hazardous task to attempt without the proper tools. You may find yourself straining to support the weight without proper grip, with branches poking you in the face. The awkwardness and strain involved in carrying heavy potted plants can be minimized with the use of proper equipment.

Ergonomic and versatile lifting straps

Designed to carry loads up to 200lbs, this versatile pot lifting strap sling can also be used on a variety of large heavy objects, including rocks, paving slabs and logs. This allows for easy ergonomic lifting in pairs.

It can also be used as a rock or log hauler. Simply buckle the straps around the object to be lifted, allowing you too carry a wide range of items such as feed, cement, large mulch bags and landscaping stones. 

This is a simple product, which makes life easier and significantly reduces the risk of back strain. However, as with all lifting aids, it must be used with the proper lifting technique. Other precautions, such as inspecting the path to be taken and clearing obstacles will contribute significantly to minimizing the risk of injury whilst carrying.

Heavy duty materials make this strong and durable and a life-time warranty is provided. It's also an affordable piece of equipment, priced much cheaper than the medical bills you may have to cover from hauling pots and boulders using brute force. 

This tool is available for purchase on Amazon

Moving Large Rocks

If you are looking for solutions for lifting large stones, please see my post on lifting and moving boulders

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

How To Protect Plants From Frost Damage

Temperatures below zero can rapidly damage and kill potted plants. Here are a few tip on what to do, and what not to do. 

Keeping plants well watered

Surprisingly, wet soil actually allows for increased heat retention, and minimizes frost damage. Moist soil holds heat better than dry soil, and water slowly evaporating around the plant contributes to keeping the plant warm. Adding a layer of mulch can help to enhance this effect. This should be used as a preventive strategy, rather than a response to cold damage where soil is already frozen.

Covering with a blanket or tarp

The cover pictured above is a specialized plant protector for cold conditions. However, if you're not wanting to purchase such an item, you can use tarps, blankets or sheets to provide a certain amount of protection. However, it will be best for the plant if you use stakes to keep the blanket or tarp from touching the foliage.

Don't simple tie it around the stem thinking that the foliage is the only are requiring protection. Wrap your cover around the entire plant.

Don't over-react to damage

If you become aware of frost damage, don't feel you should immediately prune away the damaged areas. Damaged foliage can actually provide protection for those areas of the plant from further damage. Wait until the weather has warmed up before pruning. An exception to this rule is 'soft stemmed' plants, which are more prone to rotting and should be pruned soon after.

Morning sunshine can increase damage

Do not move frozen plants into the sun. 

Cold plants in direct sunlight. 

Frost damage is more likely to occur as the sun comes up, as the plant defrosts too quickly, damaging leaf and stem cells. Therefore, avoid planting vulnerable species in east facing positions. Lightly misting the leaves of plants before the sun hits them in the morning can also contribute to minimizing rapid defrosting. If possible, move the plants into a position where they do not receive direct morning sunlight. 

Plants are generally not forever ruined by frost damage and can be saved. Don't despair at the brown leaves and limp stems, with time and protective responses, most plants will recover. Tolerate those dead leaves until spring comes around, and allow them to provide a protective layer. Keep your plant well fertilized, cover it where possible and don't expose it to morning sunlight where rapid defrosting can occur.  Obviously, the ideal response to cold weather is to bring plants indoors over night. However, this obviously an option that is not always feasible.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

How To Safely Move Heavy Rocks

Large rocks and boulders can be extremely heavy, and pose who risks of injury for those who attempt to lift them with sheer brute force.

6 Ways to move a heavy rock

I'm going to show you 6 different options for lifting and moving a large rock with minimum strain on your body. Some involve using materials you can find in your garage or yard. Others require you to purchase specific tools and equipment.

1. Using pry bars to create leverage. 

Pry bars are often used to loosen rocks that are stuck in the ground, and can also be used to move a large rock across a garden. It is best to do it inch by inch by spinning and gradually pushing, rather than attempting to roll it quickly. Use a brick or other similar size and strength item to give leverage. If you're going to purchase one of these bars, get a longer version for maximum leverage. Also, a good tip when purchasing a pry bar is to get a brightly colored bar, as they will be much easier to find after you inevitably throw them on the ground.

2. Hand Pull Stone Boats

You could also create a small sized stone sled for dragging across suitable surfaces. Obviously, is the rock is too large to safely pull, do not attempt this. This will also not be suitable for slopes or uneven surfaces as the edge of the sled may become wedged, or the rock may tumble off. Obviously, common sense must prevail and over-loading the sled with too many rocks, or rocks too large to pull safely must be avoided. Working together with another person like a tug of war team could make this a lot easier.

3. Rolling on multiple pieces of pipe 

If you have some pieces of PVC, you may want to consider this technique. As the rock moves forward, continually take the rear piece and place it on front. Wear appropriate safety gear such as safety boots if you try this, as you don't want to roll a big rock onto your toes.

4. Solid Deck Wagon Truck

If you're a landscaper who needs to do this job regularly, you may want to consider getting a serious piece of equipment, such as a solid deck wagon truck. 

If you're going to wheel a large rock across garden terrain, you're going to need a cart which provides enough stability to do the job safely. Regular wheelbarrows do not provide the same level of balance as these 4 wheels landscaping carts. Four solid rubber tires, and a lip around the sides allow you to roll heavy objects and equipment safely and easily. Obviously, the downside to using such equipment is the requirement that the rock be lifted 2 to 3 feet up onto the deck. This applies to a greater extent with wheelbarrows.

5. Tow-able Rock Sleds

You can either make your own rock sled out of whatever you can find around your home, or use something such as an old car trunk or hood. You can tie the rock down to secure it. Travel slowly and ensure you inspect the pathway that you will be taking whilst transporting the rock. Obstacles or uneven terrain could destabilize the load and which becomes very hazardous.

Attach strong rope or chains to your sled and drag it along the ground. Car hoods and trunks are excellent as they have a lip which helps prevent the rock slipping off. If you don't have an old car panel, you can make a sled yourself out of wood or other materials around your property.

6. Lifting Slings For Heavy Rocks

Another option is to purchase or make your own sling. These could also be useful when you're required to lift a rock up onto a cart or wheelbarrow. Using proper lifting technique, these straps allow you to team up and lift some heavy weight. 

These straps are available on Amazon


Thursday, 8 January 2015

Plant Pot Caddies With Wheels

We all love how large potted plants can significantly enhance the appearance of our gardens. However, when it comes time to move or relocate them, it can turn into an awkward back breaking experience. Relying on brute strength to get the job done may seem like the easiest and cheapest option. However, back surgery can also be rather expensive.

Rolling is obviously a lot easier than lifting and carrying. Make your plants mobile and roll-able with a wheeled pot caddy. You'll need to make sure you buy a durable version, with quality wheels which roll smoothly over your average garden surfaces such as bumpy paving or cracked concrete.

The 'Down Under Plant Caddy'

The caddy pictured below is both durable and comes with a hole in the center to ensure drainage is not adversely affected. 

Markers for balance  

Cleverly, the unit pictured above also has marks which can be used to measure how balanced the plant is. By ensuring that each caddy has the same number of marks visible, you know when it is properly balanced in the center of the caddy. 

Durable wheels

This is made from high quality plastic, with a width of 20", and durable wheels made from nylon and steel. Another good feature is that one of the casters is able to be locked, preventing any unwanted movement. Whilst they're built to be tough, they're not designed to be rolled over rough terrain such as rock gardens, and if this is what you require then consider a hand truck style dolly.

The Down Under Plant Caddy is available on Amazon

If the option above doesn't seem like the best pot transportation option for your situation, perhaps you'd be interested in considering product pictured below.

This unit has larger wheels and allows you to transport your plant without being forced to remain in a bent over position. The larger wheels allow for movement over rougher ground, and the two special arms come down onto the pot to make sure it stays securely in position. These arms adjust up and down the handle, in order to cater for pots of a height of 8" to 30". 

Whilst this is slightly more expensive than a unit which sits at the base, these will allow for quicker and easier transportation. This will also make it easier when there are any minor ledges or cracks which may catch smaller wheels.

Search for 'potted plant mover' on Amazon

Monday, 5 January 2015

Hand Trucks for Heavy Potted Plants

If you're looking for a piece of equipment specifically designed for moving large potted plants, this specialized plant dolly may be exactly what you're looking for. Lifting large pot plants can place significant strain on your body, and is generally awkward and time consuming.

What was previously a two person job becomes a relatively easy one person job, with no requirement for strapping or tying the pot to the dolly. Lifting heavy pots is actually quite hazardous due to the extent to which you have to bend to lift them, and the fact that there can be a lack of handles and comfortable grip.

Prongs grip the pot

The hand-truck pictured above has a 75lb capacity, with an adjustable hook designed to grab onto pots and properly secure them. One of the major drawbacks of hand-trucks is keeping the load stable, especially when moving items which can not be easily held as you walk, such as a potted plant.

For more information click here to view on Amazon

Multipurpose Lifting Tool

If you're a landscaper or have a would benefit from a piece of equipment that 'does it all', perhaps you'd rather consider this clever multifunction lifter and wheel barrow.

What separates this from it's competition (and makes it more expensive) is it's multipurpose capabilities. It comes with several accessories which allow it to be used for several different functions.  It can carry anything from large rocks to convert into a wheel barrow for hauling loads of soil.

Heavy rocks create significant potential for muscle strains, or other injuries such as crushed feet.This unit is set up to allow for easy relocation of large boulders, without the usual sore hands and back.

There's all sorts of uses for this product, it's a wheelbarrow, hand truck and pot/rock hauler in one.

An awesome piece of equipment with a wide variety of uses.

This multipurpose unit is available on Amazon

Safety Tips

You're probably thinking 'A hand-truck is a simply device, I don't need any tips'. However, there are a few basic things you might not know or might not think to do. 
  1. Push, don't pull. Pushing is better for your body and allows you to 'keep your eyes on the road'.
  2. Before use, check the route and remove obstructions. Most hand truck injuries include pinching or scraping hands on walls or stationary objects when attempting to navigate around things or through tight spaces.
  3. Properly position the pot so the weight is properly balanced over the axle. This will make the job easier as less weight will be on the handles when the pot is lifted.
  4. Be careful on slopes and uneven surfaces, especially edges of docks or platforms. If you're pushing a load that tips, you may fall with it if you attempt to hang on and prevent it from falling down. There is a horrendous video of this online, where a man falls from a dock and is slung through the air by a dolly as it flips and drops.
There's really not much to be concerned about as they're generally very safe and reduce rather than create injury risks.