Equipment Operation and Maintenance

Back in the Saddle Again …. Again

HILA re-convenes new Continuing Education classes

Last fall, I reported on the attempted deployment of the Hawaii Island Landscape Association’s and University of Hawaii Kona Cooperative Extension’s new continuing education series of face-to-face workshops, despite the disruptions and uncertainty caused by you-know-what.

As it turned out, after successfully completing two of the four workshops we decided to postpone the remaining events until 2021 – with the expectation (glass half full) that the “situation” would improve significantly by then. So, here we are already, well into 2021 with a reboot of the series of four hands-on classes underway.

With restrictions for outdoor gatherings recently relaxed somewhat, we set a limit of 24 attendees – a significant increase from the 10-person limit required at our last workshop held in 2020. Of course, now-standard six-feet physical distancing and face coverings are required by all participants.

We conducted the first workshop, Equipment Operation and Maintenance, on a glorious Saturday morning in early April at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s luau grounds and North Pointe lawn area fronting the South Kohala coastline.

The two lead instructors and collaborators for this class were Tony Savarese from All Tool Kona and Clifford Vianzos from Golden Eagle Distributing. These gentlemen, along with Gary Ramos (Mauna Kea Resort) and Ken Sugai (Keauhou Nursery) provided instruction on proper equipment fluid mixing and storage, as well as safe operation and maintenance practices for a wide variety of landscape equipment, including both gas-powered and commercial-grade battery operated.

Stations were set up for weedeater, lawn mower, blower, and hedge trimmer, as well as turf aerator and verticutter. With an emphasis on hands-on learning, all participants had an opportunity to operate each piece of equipment. Interactive discussions included topics such as buying tips, common equipment failures, and examples of poorly maintained power equipment.

This new HILA workforce development program is geared toward both entry level technicians as well as providing opportunities to earn recertification CEUs for existing certified landscape professionals .

The second workshop, Basic Botany and Horticultural Principles, is scheduled for Saturday morning, June 4 at the Four Seasons Hualalai Resort. Following the classroom portion, resort Landscape Director, Erin Lee, will lead the attendees through the resort’s ornamental plant gardens for a hands-on show-and-tell to demonstrate best horticultural practices in tropical landscapes. Online registration is available at

Irrigation Hydraulics, Design and Troubleshooting (date to be determined) will be instructed again by Lynnett Tohara, from Diamond Sprinkler and Farm Supply. Topics include hydraulics and design; water pressure and elevation changes, elements of an irrigation plan, point of connection, backflow prevention devices, mainline/ laterals, valve types, flow rates, friction loss, precipitation rates, selection of sprinkler heads and spacing.

The final class of this series, Proper Pruning Techniques, instructed by Diana Duff will be held at a later date this year. All classes are about three hours and approved for 3.0 CEU by NALP. For more information about the classes and to register online visit or contact me at

Ty McDonald, Kona Cooperative Extension, UH-Manoa.