Grubbing docks, thistles and established ragwort out of grassland is a backbreaking task, but it can be the quickest way to keep these invasive weeds under control. However, anyone who’s tried knows it’s common to wind up with a broken fork or shovel handle in the process. The Lazy Dog, a skeleton of stainless steel rods with two handles, is tipped with an interchangeable slender three-pronged fork (a “Grubbing Nose”). Its ultra-light open structure hardly seems strong enough to lift a dandelion let alone master an established dock crown, but it has strength in all the right places and works amazingly well: I’ve hauled a five-year established dock crown out of the ground with a single pull of the long handle. Yet, the tool is so light, I can work for hours with it.
Think of the Lazy Dog as Grandpa’s Weeder on steroids. While a dandelion crown might be 1/2″ across and 5″ long, a five-year-old dock crown can grow to 4″ across and over 2 feet deep (!). I’ve found it can take three or four chops with a sharp spade even to chop through a tough, woody crown like that. And if you don’t get the crown out, they just grow right back. The Lazy Dog does a great job of lifting the ragwort crown and easing the roots out with it, rather than just cracking the crown off from the roots or worse, breaking the crown and leaving bits behind.
When I first got one five years ago, I put it to the test on some dock crowns that had infested my paddock for several years. The slim three-tine fork drove easily into the ground with the push of a foot on the protruding ‘booting shoulder’, which also doubles as a cantilever point for the next stage. Then you just pull back using the two rubber handles. The Lazy Dog has clearly been designed to process these forces efficiently, because there is not the slightest sign of weakness or ‘under building’ when the load goes on. At this point, the Lazy Dog shows you how it earned its name: The leverage from the long handle — magnified through the cantilever and delivered into the fork — near effortlessly breaks the dock’s hold on the ground. With a satisfying crack, the crown is removed with the absolute minimum disruption to the ground. And you don’t even need to stoop down to clear the fork; the mid-frame handle lets you lift up the tool to clear any jams or remove a crown for disposal. Really saves your back.
Prior to the Lazy Dog, I had used a ragfork with moderate success: It makes a big hole and is heavy work. Before that, I had used conventional garden forks: I broke the handle on one and a tine on another, and ended up using a forged Roadmans Fork, a real back breaker. The Lazy Dog is not a cheap Chinese import. It’ll set you back around $100 for a frame and one fork (I have both a large and smaller one — the former is ideal for docks; the latter is better for ragwort). However, it is well worth the price.
The only drawback is the lifting noses are cast (for strength), so they must be cleaned and waxed after use to prevent corrosion. Strangely enough though, the Lazy Dog is such a dream of a tool to use, it is actually a pleasure to clean and wax the fork in anticipation of using the tool next time. Since it is light enough to use as a walking stick, I take it with me whenever I walk the paddocks — just in case I am lucky enough to come across a wayward weed.