News Release: 17th April 2023
Subject: The Acquisition of Green Heron Tools
The Yard and Garden (theyardandgarden.com) has acquired Green Heron Tools (greenherontools.com).
About Green Heron Tools
Green Heron Tools, founded in 2008 by Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger, is a company focused on designing and manufacturing ergonomic, user-friendly tools for gardening and landscaping. With a mission to reduce strain and injury in gardening and agricultural tasks, the company innovated many product and service solutions.
The product line-up includes award-winning, patented ergonomic cultivating tools and other specialist weeding tools, trimmers, and cutting tools.
About The Yard and Garden
The Yard and Garden was originally started in 2014 by Sarah Johnson and Tom Williams and has since been acquired by current owner Ben Hilton (NuVirtu Ltd) in 2019. The company specializes in providing high-quality gardening and landscaping products and services. Offering a wide range of solutions, for amateur and professional gardeners.
The company aims to inspire beautiful and sustainable outdoor spaces by supporting its readers with expert knowledge and high-quality gardening products.
Here’s what Ben Hilton Owner and Editor of The Yard and Garden had to say about this exciting new acquisition:
“Green Heron Tools built an incredible reputation for helping gardeners, which is very much aligned with the core mission of The Yard and Garden. This recent acquisition is the perfect fit, allowing us to broaden our portfolio and create new and exciting opportunities.”
theyardandgarden.com is owned and operated by NuVirtu Ltd, for further details contact:
27 Old Gloucester Street, London
With this acquisition, theyardandgarden.com aims to develop a broader portfolio of product resources and information including carrying forward the progress made by Green Heron Tools in ergonomics and product performance.
Choosing Gardening Tools and Ergonomics
In the world of gardening and lawn care, a multitude of tools and equipment are designed to aid in various tasks, ranging from soil preparation and planting to lawn maintenance and cleanup. Each tool has its unique function, specific attributes to consider when purchasing, and particular situations where its use is most effective.
From hand tools such as spades and pruners to power equipment like lawnmowers and leaf blowers, understanding these tools’ roles can significantly enhance your gardening experience.
Accounting for the ergonomic design of these tools is critical to ensure comfortable and safe use, reducing physical strain and potential health issues, especially when the tools are used over a prolonged period of time. Green Heron Tools was founded on improving the ergonomics and comfort of tools for women, accounting for the differences physical between men and women using these tools.
However, in a more neutral sense, any individual irrelevant of gender, size, height, or strength will experience different levels of tool efficiency and user comfort. The team at The Yard and Garden will carry forward the same mission to identify and promote tools that offer comfort, performance, and utility for all users both female and male.
Considerations for Ergonomic Design in Gardening Tools
Handle Design: Ergonomic handles are typically designed to be comfortable and easy to grip. This usually means they have a soft, non-slip handle that’s contoured to fit into your hands in a natural position. They may also be adjustable to accommodate different hand sizes or grip styles. The addition of retrofit ergonomic D-Grips or T-Grips on the shaft of long-handled tools will also assist with leverage, reducing backache.
Weight: The weight of the tool should be well-balanced to reduce strain on your arms, shoulders, and back. Lighter tools are typically easier to handle but have enough weight to function well. For example, the weight of a shovel, rototiller, or rake can often play a significant role in how well the tools work on your behalf.
Length: The length of any gardening tool will affect how much bending or reaching is required. This is especially important when tasks involve long periods of time working, or when cultivation of clearance work involves wet heavy soil. The length of rakes, hoes, and trimmers all need to be well-suited to the user’s height.
Ease of Use: Tools should be easy to use and require minimal force. Features such as spring-loaded pruners, self-propelled mowers, and two-wheel garden carts can help reduce the amount of effort required on your part.
Are Tools Designed for Men or Women
As for differences between men and women and their approach to using gardening tools, it’s important to understand that these are broad generalizations, and individual needs and preferences may vary significantly. On average, women tend to have smaller hands and less upper body strength than men – but of course not always. This means that tools with smaller grips and lighter weights may be more comfortable and effective for women to use over longer periods of time on the basis that women’s bodies are different from men’s. According to Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger, they differ in several ways:
- 40-75% less upper-body strength
- 5-30% less lower-body strength
- Smaller stature
- More adipose tissue
- Narrower shoulders
- Wider hips
- Proportionally shorter legs & arms
- Smaller grips
Some companies design tools specifically for women, with features such as smaller handles, lighter weights, and sometimes even different aesthetic designs. Indeed, Green Heron Tools were innovators in this exact field. However, the most important consideration, regardless of gender, is that the tool feels comfortable and effective for the individual using it.
The effects of using non-ergonomic tools can include discomfort, fatigue, and over time, potentially serious health issues such as repetitive strain injury, tendonitis, or back problems.
Using tools that are too large or heavy can lead to unnecessary strain and an increased risk of injury. This applies to both men and women, so it’s crucial to choose tools that are a good fit for the individual user.
Gardening Tools for Cultivating and Pruning
The following sections delve into these aspects, aiming to provide a comprehensive understanding of gardening tools, their functionality, purchasing considerations, optimal usage scenarios, and ergonomic factors, including gender-specific implications.
Spade: One of the most common garden tools used for digging, edging, lifting sod, and moving small amounts of soil or compost. When selecting a spade or shovel look for a handle length and material that suit your height and strength. Those with less upper body strength might prefer a lighter model with a shorter handle. Also, consider the size of the blade. Larger blades will cut larger loads of soil, significantly adding to the digging weight.
It’s also worth considering a D-Grip or T-Grip attachment to fit onto the shaft of your shovel to assist with improved leverage.
Pruners (Secateurs): Essential for trimming and shaping plants, pruners should fit comfortably into your hand. Shears or pruners work well for live plants and green wood, while anvil loppers are suited for dead wood and dry branches. If you have a small grip, consider smaller, aluminum pruners, or a design with rotating handles.
Trowel: This small handheld tool used for digging planting holes, transplanting seedlings, or potting plants should be lightweight. Look for a comfortable handle and a sturdy blade. A trowel with a narrow blade width is generally easier to articulate putting less pressure on your wrists.
Hori Hori Knife: This versatile Japanese Hori Hori Knife, is perfect for digging, weeding, cutting, and planting. Opt for a stainless steel blade and a comfortable handle. A lighter or shorter blade will be better suited for those with less grip or forearm strength.
Garden Hoe: This popular tool used to control weeds, clear soil, and harvest root crops, is a must-have for every gardener. Consider a sharp, sturdy blade and a handle length appropriate for your height. Lighter models may be easier to handle for prolonged periods, whereas as taller individuals will definitely need longer handles to avoid lower back aches.
Garden Fork: Used for turning soil, breaking up compacted ground, and incorporating compost into planting beds. Look for a durable, rust-resistant model with sturdy tines. A smaller forkhead will reduce the weight of soil that needs cultivating with each dig. It’s often better to dig with lighter loads to stave off fatigue.
Watering Can: Consider the can’s capacity as water is heavy, so it’s better to make several trips that injure your shoulder or back. A smaller, lighter model may be easier to pour and control, especially with a longer spout. It may be worth considering a garden sprayer, featuring a shoulder strap, or even a backpack sprayer with an ergonomic harness.
Weeding Tools: Avoid crawling around on your knees weeding, instead choose long-handled tools such as dandelion removers, available as 3 or 4-claw weed extractors. Use them from an upright standing position, and allow the claw mechanism to lift the weed pulling the tap root from the soil.
Garden Rake: This tool clears leaves and debris, levels soil, and prepares planting beds. A garden rake with adjustable handle length can be beneficial for users of different heights and strengths.
Wheelbarrow or Garden Cart: These are used for moving heavy loads around the garden. When purchasing a wheelbarrow, consider the size, weight capacity, material, and wheel configuration. Some models are designed with ergonomic handles and lighter materials for easier handling. Many less mobile gardeners prefer a two-wheel cart, as it’s easy to push and puts less lifting demand on your lower back.
Choosing The Right Lawn Mower
Push Mower (Reel Mower): The traditional manually operated mower is perfect for small, flat lawns. Look out for a lighter model with adjustable height settings and a comfortable handle which is better suited to individuals with less physical strength.
Self-Propelled Lawn Mower: The modern self-propelled mower makes mowing lawns easier for gardeners of all strengths. Look for a model with variable speed settings and a reliable engine. It’s best used for medium to large lawns, and especially useful for lawns with uphill slopes.
Gas-Powered Lawn Mower: Gas mowers are powerful and the professional’s choice for larger lawns or long grass. Consider the engine’s power, reliability, and maintenance requirements. Be mindful that gas-powered mowers can be heavier, so consider your ability to maneuver the equipment and consider a self-propelled version.
Electric Lawn Mower (Corded and Cordless): Electric mowers are quieter and more eco-friendly than gas mowers. They are generally lighter due to their composite chassis and lightweight motors, making them easier to handle for people with less physical strength. Corded models provide continuous power but can be inconvenient due to the limitation of the cord length. Whilst cordless models offer freedom of movement but have a limited run time determined by their lithium-ion battery capacity.
Lawn Tractor: A lawn tractor is designed for large lawns and areas. Look for a model with a comfortable seat, good visibility, and easy controls. A lawn tractor with an automatic transmission can be easier to handle, especially for those not comfortable with manual gears. These machines are also very versatile and often feature towing capabilities.
Front-Engine Ride-On Mower: Ride-on mowers are similar to lawn tractors, but more compact, making them easier to maneuver in tight spaces. Consider the size of the cutting deck, the power of the engine, and the comfort of the seat. Some models offer hydrostatic transmissions, which provide smooth and easy operation without the need to shift gears.
Zero-Turn Riding Mower: Zero-turn mowers are ideal for large lawns with lots of obstacles, as they can turn on the spot, hence their name (zero radius turn). Look for models that have comfortable seats, intuitive controls, and a reliable engine such as Kawasaki, Honda, Kohler, or Briggs and Stratton, or opt for one of the premium electric zero-turn mowers now available. Keep in mind that these mowers can take some time to get used to, especially for those unfamiliar with their operation. However, they’re the preferred lawn mower for commercial use.
Robotic Lawn Mower: This new technology comes with a big ticket price, but can prove invaluable for anyone with mobility issues. Consider the mower’s ability to handle your lawn’s size, terrain, and any obstacles. You will need to set up the mower with some basic program controls to allow it to understand the perimeter of your lawn.
Mulching Mower: These mowers cut grass clippings into fine pieces leaving them on the lawn surface to decompose and return nutrients to the soil. Look for a mulching lawn mower that offers a good balance of mulching and bagging options. Mulching mowers are best used for lawns where you want to improve the soil’s health and reduce waste.
Hover Mower: These mowers hover above the ground, making them highly maneuverable and ideal for uneven terrain and steep slopes. They are typically electric and lightweight, making them easier to handle for individuals of all strengths.
Remember, each type of lawn mower has its own strengths and weaknesses. Consider your specific needs, lawn size, and terrain, as well as your physical strength and comfort, when choosing the right mower.
Selecting Outdoor Power Equipment
String Trimmer (Weed Eater): Ideal for cutting overgrown grass and weeds in places that mowers can’t reach. A model that is lightweight, easy to handle, and has an adjustable length shaft can cater to different user heights and strengths. Battery-powered trimmers and gas trimmers are generally heavy-duty tools. For smaller gardens consider a corded lightweight strimmer, which is lighter with a shorter handle length.
Leaf Blower: Clears leaves and other debris from lawns and driveways. Consider the power source, noise level, and weight. Some models offer a backpack or wheeled design, which can reduce arm strain, making them more comfortable for users with less upper body strength, or when working for long periods. Corded leaf blowers are generally less powerful, but offer a lightweight solution for general residential use.
Hedge Trimmer: Used for trimming and shaping hedges and shrubs. Models with adjustable or extendable handles can accommodate different user heights and reach requirements. Lightweight cordless hedge trimmers tend to be easier to handle, especially when working for extended periods. Commercial users tend to prefer the power of a gas trimmer, but the power comes at a cost, in terms of the overall weight of the tools.
Chain Saw: Used for heavy-duty wood-cutting tasks. When purchasing, consider safety features, weight, and whether you’d prefer a gas or electric model. Smaller, lighter models can be easier to manage for those with less physical strength, most gardeners would benefit from a battery-powered chainsaw.
For anyone with limited mobility, a pole saw may be a better option allowing you to reach overhead without the use of a ladder.
Lawn Aerator: Used for improving airflow, water penetration, and getting nutrients down to reach grass roots. Look for a model that has durable spikes or plugs and is easy to maneuver. Some lawn aerators have user-friendly designs with adjustable handle heights and easy-to-use controls. Other you can wear like a pair of shoes and walk across the lawn to aerate it.
Lawn Edger: Used for cutting clean lines around the edges of a lawn. Consider the cutting depth, power source, and weight. Adjustable handle lengths can cater to different user heights, and lighter models can reduce strain. Again battery powered lawn edgers are generally lighter and quieter than gas models.
Lawn Sweeper: is a tool used for collecting leaves, grass clippings, and other lawn debris. When buying, consider its hopper capacity, width, and the adjustability of the height. Lawn Sweepers with larger wheels are easier to maneuver, and collapsible designs offer convenient storage. Choose based on your lawn size and the volume of debris. Remember you will need to transport the sweeper from storage to the lawn tractor to hitch it up.
Leaf Vacuum Shredder: Collect and shred leaves and small branches from an upright standing position. When choosing a shredder, consider the suction power, shredding capability, and bag capacity. Some leaf shredders offer ergonomic designs with adjustable handles and harnesses for comfortable use.
Tillers and Cultivators: Used for breaking up soil and mixing in amendments. Consider the tilling width and depth, the type of soil you have, and whether you’d prefer a gas or electric model. Models with adjustable handles and controls can make this equipment easier to handle for different users. Front-tine, mid-tine, and rear-tine tillers all handle slightly differently. For anyone will limited strength or mobility I would suggest opting for a smaller electric rototiller instead.
Wood Chipper: A chipper is used for reducing tree limbs or trunks into woodchips or sawdust. When purchasing, consider the power source, branch capacity, reduction ratio, and safety features. Electric chippers are lighter and quieter, while gas wood chippers are more powerful but heavier to transport and require more maintenance. Finally, commercial wood chippers go up another level in terms of size and weight and often need a towing hitch to move them around the yard and garden.