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Gardening tools

Gardening tools

You want to enjoy gardening? You want to work well? Then you need the right gardening tools. The right gardening tools will make your work less strenuous and more enjoyable. Dig into the ground with a bad old spade and you will work twice as hard, not to mention that you may hurt your plants and break your back.

Basic gardening tools

The number of gardening tools you need to start with is not very long, but we suggest choosing quality tools, since they will be more practical, comfortable and durable. It is often cheaper to buy a good, quality tool once, rather than buying flimsy tools every so often. And quality gardening tools usually make your work more enjoyable.

It is quite essential that you take good care of your tools. Buying the best spade on the market and letting it rust away is just a waste of money.

Spades and shovels

If you plan to be serious at all about gardening, your first purchase as far as gardening tools are concerned will probably be a good spade or shovel. A spade is typically a rectangular, sharp-edged tool, with a metal blade and a long handle, used for digging or cutting earth. The word shovel, on the other hand, is most often used to refer to a rounded tool used for moving earth or any other loose material, such as sand or compost.

Spades and shovels can be used to dig holes or various sizes to transplant shrubs and small trees. Shovels may make it easier to cut through hard soils and roots. Spades, on the other hand, are more practical for splitting bushes and tubers.

Rusted spade

Rusted spade

Spades and shovels made of forged steel and high-carbon forged steel are both very strong, but the latter will stay sharper longer. Stainless steel tools are more resistant to rust, but they require more frequent sharpening. Whichever material you choose, you should keep them clean and dry, as dirty spades will inevitably rust, not to mention that their wooden handle may even rot. A wire brush will help you get rid of any dirt and a piece of dry cloth will take away the moisture.

Gardening tools, such as spades and shovels, are work tools, and the work you will use them for may often times be quite hard, so you must make sure that you select tools that are strong enough and that feel comfortable. The handle should be solid, long enough for you, and ensure a solid grip. Hard woods make very good handles. Make sure the wood is free of defects and that the grain is tight. Varnished handles are best, since paint won’t let you see the quality of the wood.

Rusted metal will make your work harder, since it won’t cut through hard earth and roots as easily as clean metal. Motor oil will help maintain your metal tools rust-free. To prevent rust from eating away your gardening tools when you don’t use them, you may stick them in a container filled with sand saturated with motor oil.

Cutting through hard earth and roots requires a cutting edge, so it may be a good idea to sharpen your spade or shovel. You can use a metal file or a blade sharpener. A lawn mower blade sharpener may also be used.

Hand hoe

Hand hoe

Trowels and hand hoes

Trowel

Trowel

Trowels and hand hoes, also known as hand cultivators, are probably the most common of gardening tools. They are used for lighter garden work, such as planting potted flowers and weeding the flower bed. Trowels are often made of stamped steel. Although these may be fine for light work, they won’t resist tougher jobs. Many hand hoes found on the market today are made of low quality molded metal. These won’t last very long either if you use them regularly. Forged steel is a good choice in both cases. Solid, hard wood handles make good gardening tools.

Hand pruners

Hand pruners, or pruning shears, are also a must. Taking care of plants often means cutting off unwanted twigs and buds, and to do this, you need good, clean shears. Pruning, when done correctly, can be quite beneficial to most plants. Pruners are also the best tool to cut roses, for instance.

Good quality sheers make clean cuts. Plants suffer very little from clean cuts. Rough cuts, on the other hand, are an open door for disease and pests.

Pruners known as bypass pruners are probably the best choice. The have a sharpened blade that slides past a flat, unsharpened hook. They make the cleanest cuts. For tougher jobs, some pruners have a gear-type mechanism that multiplies the force exerted by the hand.

Good quality pruners usually have high-carbon hardened steel blades. They also have a tightening screw to ensure the blades are always well positioned. Also look for an ergonomic design and locking mechanism.

One last thing about pruners: they can propagate disease. To ensure they don’t, you need to clean them with rubbing alcohol or diluted chlorine.

Lawn movers and trimmers

If you have a lawn, you need a lawn mower. A lot could be said about these. For now, we will keep it short and simply cover the basics.

  • Hand mowers are the most eco friendly option. A few things need to be said about these.
    • First, they require more work on your part. It is your energy that turns the blades that cut the grass. So if your yard is large, mowing the lawn can be a workout in itself.
    • Then, they don’t usually have very sharp blades, so they don’t make such a clean cut as you mow your lawn.
    • They won’t mulch the grass.
    • Finally, if you are looking for the perfect grass, they might leave you disappointed, as they won’t give you a perfectly evenly mowed lawn.
    • But if eco friendliness is most important to you, they are the best choice.
  • Gas powered and electric hand lawn mowers come in a large variety of models. Here are a few pointers on both types.
    • Gas powered lawn mowers are the least eco friendly option. They generate a lot of greenhouse gases and pollution.
    • Electric lawn mowers are a far better option is the environment is important to you. Battery powered models are somewhat less eco friendly, since old batteries are a source of pollution, but they are way more practical than corded ones.
    • If your lawn is huge, you may want to get a riding lawn mower. Most models are gas powered, but more and more battery powered models are now appearing o the market.

Most trimmers on the market today work using a rotating piece of nylon string. The problem with these is that they don’t cut the grass blades, they tear them. Using shears is harder work, but it makes a better job. Trimmers are also either powered by gas or electricity.

Lawn rakes

The next item on the list of most useful garden tools is the lawn rake. You can’t really take good care of your lawn without one. A good, vigorous raking can get rid of many unwanted things, such as weaker grass, thatch, creeping weeds, and moss. Rakes are also useful to have if you plan to overseed your lawn.

Rakes are useful to gather and pick grass clippings, dead leaves, or anything that litters your yard.

Metal rakes are your best choice. If you use a plastic rake to rake vigorously, it won’t last very long, since plastic is never as sturdy as metal.

Other useful gardening tools

Once you have all your basic gardening tools, you are ready to start gardening. As you work in your yard and start to take on various projects, you will soon find out that you need other toys to play with. Here is a list of them:

Hand lawn edger

Hand lawn edger

  • Although it is quite helpful, one less common item among gardening tools is the hand lawn edger. You will use it, for example, to make holes in your lawn when adding new plants, to cut away any grass growing over your sidewalk or drive, and to make a cleaner edge around your flower beds.
  • Aerators are very useful to ensure your lawn gets the water and air it needs to be healthy.
  • A drop spreader can be quite useful to spread fertilizers, to seed a new lawn, or to overseed an existing lawn. Note that most plastic, hand held models are not very sturdy and won’t last very long.
  • Spading forks, also known as digging forks, are very useful to dig out bulbs, for instance. If you use a shovel or spade for this, you may damage many of your bulbs.
  • A mulching machine can help you turn green lawn litter into valuable mulch.
  • A wheelbarrow will help you carry plants, dirt and compost.
  • If you have a hedge, you probably need hedge sheers. Note that these can also be used to trim various types of conifers, such as yews. If you have a very large  hedge, a hedge trimmer may be best.
  • Tree pruners are a must if you have higher trees and shrubs. Tree pruners are very similar to hand pruners, only they come with a pole, usually telescopic, which helps you reach higher branches.
  • For bigger branches, you may need loppers. These are also similar to hand pruners, but they are specifically designed for branches that are too large to cut off using hand pruners.
  • For even larger branches, you need a pruning saw. Be sure to use the proper technique for sawing off larger branches, otherwise you could inflict some real damage to your trees.
  • Last but not least, knee pads will make your work less painful and more enjoyable.

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