Part of the aging process seems to be that you are unable to do things the way you used to do them — either the strength required isn’t what it used to be or the healing time from the over-exertion required is too much. The result is sometimes you avoid those tasks or jobs that you would otherwise undertake.

This past summer, my wife and I decided to make a major change in the landscape at our beach house and reduce the amount of lawn that needed to be mowed. We sketched out a design using several sizes and types of gravel and oyster shell and then calculated the amount of gravel needed to get the look that we wanted.

Based on our design, we were looking at around 10 yards of gravel and rock. Gravel weighs about one and a half tons per cubic yard, so that’s around 30,000 pounds. I needed to move it from street level to the backyard, nearly 12 feet higher because of the slope the house was built on.

When I built some paths 12 years ago, I had used buckets to move five yards of material because pushing a wheelbarrow up that hill was impossible. That took me five long days and an even longer to recover physically then from the effort. Age has not made me more physically able to tackle moving twice as much gravel now.

I did some research and found no viable gravel “shooting” options available where a truck equipped with an attachment can place the rock where you want it. I am an equipment guy and knew the slope was too steep for a bucket loader to be safe.

We wanted to get the project done and do it in a safe and timely manner. I did some research and found another option: a battery-operated yard cart. While not cheap, it would allow me to get the gravel from Point A to Point B, without carrying it up that hill by hand. I found a model with two drive wheels and a swivel wheel in back to steer it.

I went ahead and bought the cart and made a few modifications by adding heavy aluminum sheet metal to the bottom to help with the weight of the gravel. On the first run, I shoveled the gravel in and headed up the hill, only to find the gravel slide to the back of the cart, causing me to lose traction. On the next trip, I used five-gallon buckets and some scrap wood to keep the weight centered over the drive wheels and it worked like a champ.

The two batteries that came with the unit held up by rotating them on the charger. I snagged a few willing “volunteers” — my wife, sister and a neighbor — to help fill buckets and spread the gravel. We were able to move over 10 yards of gravel — about 30,000 pounds — to the backyard in less than a day.

There are lots of options for electric carts, making it easy for folks of any age to get the right cart to meet their individual needs. For moving patio pavers, soil, mulch and heavy planters, battery-operated carts are a back and time saver for sure.

A WSU Master Gardeners of Chelan County column appears weekly in The Wenatchee World. Lloyd Thompson is one of four columnists featured. Learn more, visit wwrld.us/cdmg or call (509) 667-6540.

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