Cutting down flower heads

Credit: iStockphoto


Q: I have lots of perennials in my garden. I usually keep most of their dried out flower heads over the winter as the birds like feeding on the seeds. By January/February – clean up time – I cut up everything that is left-over by hand with my shears to spread those left-overs as a mulch. My hands are getting old – there must be an easier way. A Chipper /shredder? Most of the machines that I have seen are massive, gas-powered and build to shred “trees”! Any ideas?

My suggestion would be a good old-fashion “scythe” used in an standing position. This maybe a bit more heavy. Alternatively try a “swing blade” (weed cutter) or “grass whip” (grass cutter, stand-up grass cutter, weed whip, grass hook, grass trimmer, weed cutter, or weed hook). Both tend to be smaller and lighter than a typical scythe. The grass whip looks like a giant golf club and requires one hand cutting on a downstroke. The swing blade cuts in both directions (down and up) using either one or both hands.
The last suggested tool might be a “sickle” (also called a hand scythe, grass hook, reaping hook, or bagging hook”). This tool requires you to get down low but also avoids other objects close to the ground that a typical scythe would encounter. You would be only cutting in one direction.