Lee Valley Water-Powered Weeder — Good, Not Gimmick

Good. Absolutely good, and when compared to all the money and time I’ve spent with other devices, at $50 it’s still good price.

http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/page.aspx?p=10418&cat=2,2160,4070

At heart, it’s just a long narrow tube that you attach to your hose. It creates a pressurized stream of water. You poke the tube down along the root a few times, and it loosens the dirt so you can pull out the weed. The water pressure is just enough that I won’t let the kids use it with their friends around, but it won’t damage an adult hand — or the dandelion root. Aimed up, it shot ten or fifteen feet high.

It comes with a water-gun handle, which you attach to the tube. The handle is the same one used for Lee Valley’s water-gun, so we spent a bit more to get the nozzle attachment as well. The gun is a good metal one. It also comes with filter / washer combination, so crud from your hose doesn’t get into the tube. An extension for use while standing is included.

Dandelions took three or four slowish stabs. After a bit, I could tell when it was ready by the way the plant wiggled. Then, yes, you have to reach down into the mud, grab the weed by the roots, and pull it out.

Nine of ten dandelions came out cleanly. The others were veterans, well-experienced with snapping off just far enough down I can’t reach them. (Thank the steak-knife method and the Fiskars grabby thing for that. The root grows several new stems from the break, and that point is weaker so it will break there next time you try.) Still, even most of the veteran weeds came up nicely. A few others had too many rocks around them to push it down properly — that would challenge any device. (Maybe I’ll take the electric pressure washer to those.)

It left larger holes than promised — a bit bigger than the grabby thing I bought three years ago. Actually, it didn’t leave holes — I did. I like getting my hand around the root, not just pulling the leaves. Next time, I’ll try not getting into it quite so much. The soil is wet and loose by then, so a truly-conscientious gardener would push the sod back into place before it dries.

It also took maybe twice as long per plant — but compared to several times per plant per summer, it’s still a good trade.

Young thistles came out cleanly; they’re also tap roots. Violets and bugle weed also came out well; they have shallow, thick roots, which often act as runners and get tangled with grass roots. For these plants, I used the water stream to loosen and shift some of the dirt and grass roots, then raked with my fingers, just as I’ve always done. It was much easier this way, even easier than just after a rain. (Not to mention that it’s never just after a rain when I feel like gardening.) Chick weed didn’t succumb so easily, but none of the other methods work on that either.

After an hour’s use it was a bit bent — not enough to worry me, but enough to be more careful. I probably leaned on it a few times when kneeling, and may have pushed it a bit hard in my enthusiasm.

It’s just gimmicky enough that I would have liked to borrow a neighbor’s first. The few online reviews liked it, but most used it only for a few minutes, if that. However, after my first hour with it, I’m happy with the results of the gamble.

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