Whether you're a serious gardener or leave the hard work to your garden maintenance
specialist, there are some tools everyone with a garden simply must have. They are inexpensive and available at all good hardware stores
, so there's really no excuse not to have these 5 must-have gardening tools. You can get by with just the basics, but also consider some variations that will make gardening even easier and more enjoyable.
- A spade shovel: It's surprising how many homeowners make do with the wrong shovel for gardening. A spade shovel is designed for digging in the garden, not transferring large amounts of sand and cement or digging trenches like that long-handled, square edged shovel in your garage is. If you have only one spade shovel, make it one with a rounded digging edge and a wide, rounded shoulder for firm foot placement. If you do a lot of working in the garden, you'll also want a 4 pronged spade shovel for loosening and aerating soil and a flat-edged shovel for scooping.
- A rake: If you have a lawn or a lot of falling leaves, you'll need a springy toothed lawn rake and if you're working with soil, you'll need a steel-toothed rake for working on the soil's surface. Either way, if you have a garden, you need at least one rake.
- A trowel: When it comes down to the little things like planting seedlings or weeding, you can't get by without a trowel. Even the best garden trowels are inexpensive, so don't skimp on this all-important gardening implement. Choose one that is solidly constructed and has a comfortable handle. Because it's short, you don't get a lot of leverage with a trowel, so you want one you can really get a firm grip on. While you're at the nursery mulling over their selection, you may as well also buy a three-pronged trowel. It will really come in handy when you're down on your knees trying to loosen up the soil or remove a stubborn weed.
- Gardening gloves: If you don't mind calluses on your hands and dirt under your fingernails, you can skip the gloves, but you'll still wish you had invested in a pair when you scratch your hand on a thorn or brush it across thistle. A good pair of gardening gloves makes the difference between enjoying gardening or suffering from it. If you do any amount of gardening at all, buy gloves and replace them as soon as they show signs of wear. If you are going to be working with chemicals, get a pair of gloves designed for handling chemical sprays as well.
- Shears: Think of shears as scissors for your garden. Just as different types of scissors perform some cutting tasks better than others, different types of garden shears are designed for different gardening chores. Some gardeners buy a full complement of shears, from round-nosed flower shears to heavy duty lopping shears. If you only have one pair of shears, make it the generic hand shears with curved cutting blades and pointed tips. With these, you can make a clean cut in branches up to 18mm thick. If you need to do occasional tree pruning, a curved pruning saw is also a good idea. Yes, your cross-cut saw might do the job, but it won't do it as well or as fast and you will quickly dull its teeth.
Don't be afraid to build on your collection of gardening tools as you need them. Chances are, if you need them once, you'll need them again and if you keep them clean, dry and sharp, they will last for years.