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Weeding Nutgrass with a Wheel Hoe

Posted by David Grau on

Originally Posted by Corby Nuernberger on November 10, 2015

wheel hoe vs nut grassMy first real job was with the Valley Oak Tool Company, and it taught me that tough tools make hard work easy. I started out weeding a front lawn composed of Cyperus rotundus (commonly known as nut grass). Nut grass is in fact a sedge, which only resembles a grass. It spreads by means of subterranean tubers attached to its intricate root system, which makes it very tenacious. I started to weed by hand with a shovel. I would excavate a 2-3 square foot area with the shovel, then squat down and break up the soil by hand, exposing the nut seeds and their roots. Then I would shake off the excess dirt and remove the nut seeds, placing them in a nearby wheelbarrow destined for the municipal compost.

While progress was noticeable, it seemed marginal, and it was painstakingly slow work. I would spend more than 15 minutes in a one or two square foot area and still be pulling out numerous tuber-bearing roots! It was only after I had already dug up the yard two or three times that David suggested I use the Valley Oak Wheel Hoe. I began going over the nut grass with the wheel hoe. The initial run with the wheel hoe took just over an hour to go across the entire front yard. It had taken me weeks to dig up the yard by hand.

The oscillating blade would glide through the loose soil, making easy work of the roots below the stalk and above the tuber nut. Not surprisingly, there was regrowth after only one wheel hoe pass. However, by the second and third passes, the energy required for regrowth was really taxing the weeds. On the first week of wheel hoeing I made at least two passes. On the second week, I made a single pass. Then another single pass the third week. Then I made a pass every other week.

There was minimal regrowth after several weeks wheel hoe passes. The continual wheel hoeing was exhausting the nut seeds. The yard was clear enough that we could begin planting native, drought tolerant plant species where there were only weeds before. Since first using the wheel hoe I have learned much of the process that goes into its creation. The thought behind the design, the careful craftsmanship and the strength of the materials are only some of the things that make it exceptionally strong and durable. As I continue to work for Valley Oak Tools, my appreciation for well-made tools continues to grow. As for the nut grass, it has all but stopped growing. Vigilance will be necessary in preventing the stragglers from reestablishing. But Iā€™m not concerned, because we have the right wheel hoe for the job.

Corby Nuernberger

Works Cited

"Nut-grass Photos and Facts." Nut-grass Videos, Photos and Facts . N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2015.


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