Gardening tasks are a lot easier to accomplish when you are using the right tool for the job. However, with so many tools and gadgets on the market, it can be confusing to know which ones are really worth your hard earned cash. Here are 10 tools every gardener with a garden shed should have.
To move dirt, lift plants, and dig holes for anything larger than seedlings, you need a good long-handled shovel. The best shovels have concave, round-pointed blades, with ample flat edges on either side of the top of the blade to rest your foot for on for leverage, and a D-shaped hand grip.
Spades are similar to long-handled garden shovels, except their blades are squared off and flat. Spades are designed for cutting rather than lifting. They are excellent if you want to make clean edges around borders and beds, cut deep roots, or create straight-sided trenches. A good spade will have similar design features to a long-handled shovel-ample resting room for your feet on each side of the top of the blade, a comfortable handle, and a strong blade.
If you want to make quick work of shallow-rooted weeds, create a furrow for planting, or break up some compacted soil, a hoe is the right tool for the job. Hoes comes in several different style variations, each designed to excel at specific tasks. The most common types of hoes are the draw or garden hoe, (a large, rectangular flat blade) and the pointed hoe (a smaller, heart-shaped blade). Look for blades that are riveted onto their handles.
Can a gardener have too many trowels? Trowels are hand shovels. Useful tools for those "down on your hands and knees" digging and planting tasks that require a greater degree of precision than a shovel or spade. They come in handy for planting bulbs, transplanting seedlings, turning over soil, and weeding small areas between plants. Trowel blades come in several widths. Narrow blades work well for digging in hard-packed soil, while wide blades have the capacity to move more dirt quickly. A good trowel will have a solid steel blade and a handle with a comfortable grip.
Leaf rakes are handy for raking leaves and for general cleaning-up of garden debris. Some are available with adjustable metal tines, which make clean up a breeze in-between plants and in narrow spaces. Look for an ergonomic handle and comfortable grip to reduce the stress on your back and hands.
These four-tined forks have shorter handles than pitchforks, and thick, rectangular-shaped tines. Garden forks are designed specifically for turning over and aerating garden soil. They work well in heavy, unbroken, or rocky soil, and can take the place of a garden spade. Look for heads made from a solid piece of forged steel.
Pruning shears are useful for deadheading and shaping plants. They are generally designed to cut stems and branches from 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick (larger branches require a lopping shears). When selecting a pruning shears, make sure the size and grip are comfortable by testing them in your hands. They should not be too hard to squeeze or too large or small to handle comfortably. Look for replaceable parts and sharp, heat-treated blades that are easy to remove and sharpen.
Toting around dirt, plants, tools, and debris is much easier with a wheelbarrow or garden cart. The size and depth you will need depends largely on the size of your garden. Look for stability and maneuverability.
The cost and complexity of your irrigation equipment depends largely on the climate you live in. Most gardeners can get by with a hose and a fan-type sprinkler for irrigation. For areas where the hose cannot reach, you will need a watering can. When it comes to cost, you usually get what you pay for with hoses. Look for a hose that is rated for at least 50 lbs per square inch of pressure and reinforced with mesh to prevent puncturing. Non-kinking hoses are a bonus, and if you are ever able to find once that is absolutely un-kinkable, let me know!
A traditional garden hod has a durable wooden frame and wire mesh basket. It is a handy device for carrying tools, flowers, and harvested produce to and from the garden. You don't need a traditional garden hod for these tasks. Any sturdy pail, basket, or plastic tote will do.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com
Just a thought -- I just wanted to mention that there are tools made for people with arthritis problems. I bought hand pruners by Fiscars (Home Depot carries the brand) and they are so easy to use if you have hand problems. There are other "arthritis friendly" tools available too. They may cost a little more but they are so worth it! Also, I bought a long-handled grabber to pick up fallen apples, etc. It is so useful when you don't have to stoop down or bend over to pick something up. I'm not ready to give up gardening yet.
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