Expert Offers Tips For Renting Lawn And Garden Equipment

Richard L. Parish  |  12/9/2005 3:55:38 AM

News You Can Use For December 2005

It’s not necessary to buy all the equipment you need for your lawn and garden – especially for short-term use like storm cleanup.

Dr. Dick Parish, an engineer with the LSU AgCenter, suggests some expensive tools you need only rarely can be rented as needed.

"If, for instance, you need a rotary tiller only once a year to work up your garden in the spring or need a chainsaw to clean up storm-damaged trees, renting may be more practical than owning," Parish says. "Not only will you save money, but you won’t have to worry about maintenance."

Parish says many types of major equipment can be rented. They include rotary tillers, stump grinders, shredder/grinders, tractors, ditchers, trenchers, powered posthole diggers and other similar machines.

"It may make sense to rent even some smaller tools that you seldom use," he says. "An example is a lawn spreader. Rental will eliminate the need for storage space and may allow you to use more up-to-date equipment."

Sometimes, it makes sense not to rent, Parish says, pointing out some equipment may be dangerous for amateurs to use.

"You might want to leave some jobs that require dangerous or difficult-to-use equipment to professionals hired for the job," he says, citing examples such as stump grinding and ditching.

"Although you can rent equipment to do these jobs, use of this equipment does require some skill and lots of hard work – and can be dangerous for an amateur," Parish says.

In addition to dedicated rental companies, you can sometimes rent equipment from lawn and garden equipment dealers, farm equipment dealers, garden centers and even hardware stores.

If you rent a machine very often, the rental costs can add up to more than the purchase price, the engineer says.

"Rental equipment is supposed to be up-to-date and well-maintained," Parish says. "Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. It can be very frustrating to rent a machine and get it home only to find that the engine won’t start, some parts are damaged or missing or the machine isn’t properly adjusted.

"Making two trips to the rental yard to pick up and return the machine is a negative," he adds. "The machine you need may not be available, especially on a pretty Saturday in the spring or right after a storm, unless you have reserved it in advance."

Parish says unless you have a truck or trailer, you may have to rent one or the other to haul the equipment you rent.

Parish says safety should be a paramount concern. He lists several rental company obligations, including:

  • Qualifying you as a renter. The rental agent should make sure you’re capable of handling the equipment safely before agreeing to rent to you.
  • Providing full instructions on use. Rental companies should not take for granted that you know how to operate the machine. They should go through a full instruction procedure, teaching you to operate the equipment safely and effectively.
  • Providing written instructions. You should receive a copy of the operator’s manual or other written instructions so you have a reference to use if problems develop while you’re using the machine.
  • Warning of all safety hazards. The rental agent should very specifically warn you of any hazards inherent in using a particular machine. If the machine is unreasonably dangerous, the rental company should not rent it.
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