Useful Tools For Gardening
Gardening is one of the healthiest outdoor activities you can do this spring and summer. It offers plenty of fresh air, sunshine (hello, vitamin D!), and moderate exercise—and, best of all, you end up with a tableful of fresh vegetables and herbs.
But you’ll need the right tools to avoid strained back muscles, scratched hands, and other backyard nuisances. This is a list of the most useful tools your garden needs.
Karen Converse, a master gardener in DeKalb County, Ga., says plain household scissors, nothing fancy, are her first choice of garden tools. She just sticks them in a pocket and uses them to deadhead flowers, snip herbs, harvest small vegetables such as peppers, open a bag of potting soil or a seed packet or cut string. She still remembers the day a professional nurseryman saw her using them in her community garden plot and remarked that any real gardener always carries a pair of scissors. Robert Wyatt, a retired professor of botany at the University of Georgia, uses a pair of heavy-duty garden scissors with plastic-coated handles to harvest vegetables.
A soil knife
The Hori-Hori is a hands-on favorite of several gardeners we talked with. This is a Japanese tool with a stainless steel concave blade with a sharp edge on one side and a serrated edge on the other. It can be used for cutting through roots, transplanting, dividing perennials, slicing through sod, weeding, removing bonsai plants from pots and many more garden tasks. Van Malone, an avid gardener in North Atlanta, recalls forgetting it was in his car when he went on a business assignment to a federal nuclear facility in South Carolina. Because it has a seven-inch blade and the maximum blade length allowed at the facility was six inches, guards at the entrance to the plant told him that he would have to dispose of the tool. He complied by driving back down the road, hiding the tool in the woods off the property and retrieving it on the way home. (Now that’s a favorite tool!)
There are basically two types of hoe: push hoe and draw hoe. With a push hoe, the user moves backwards on to the un-hoed ground, and thus avoids walking on the newly-hoed weeds. With a draw hoe, the user moves forward towards the un-hoed ground and walks on the newly-hoed area. Raking off the hoed weeds is essential to prevent re-rooting.
A draw hoe is easier to use because the weight of the arms is brought down to help with the weed-cutting action, whereas the pushing action of a push hoe requires the weight of the arms to be lifted at the same time.
A draw hoe can also be used in a standing position with a sweeping brush action to control light weed growth, and this gives the back a rest. A good hoe of either type should be of solid material and have a long handle. It is the main weapon against weeds.
A planting trowel is essential for planting bedding and vegetable plants. The handle should be fairly short, and broad and smooth at the end for comfort in the palm of the hand. The blade should come up close to the end of the handle.
Ideally, the blade should be slightly curved – making it easier to take out a planting hole quickly, but not so curved as to have moist soil stick to it. The trowel can also be used to assist hand-weeding. Little hand-forks are useful for this.
A watering can has a vital role in ensuring the establishment of young plants of all kinds. It can also be used to apply weedkillers on paths and lawns. It can be used as a substitute for a sprayer to apply insecticides too. Most watering cans are sold in a 10 liter size, which is ideal – not too heavy when full.
Use a watering can rose of a fine droplet size for a wider range of uses, including watering seedlings and applying weedkillers. If the can is used frequently for weedkilling, it might be advisable to have a separate can for that purpose to avoid mishaps if it not properly washed out.
Shovels are handy for digging holes to plant trees, shrubs, and large plants. Gardeners can also use these tools to mix large amounts of soil, compost, fertilizer, and other materials. Look for a shovel with a tempered-steel round-point blade. The shaft should be 44 to 48 inches long and consist of wood, fiberglass, or metal.
Garden Cart, Wheelbarrow, or Utility Bucket
A garden cart, wheelbarrow or, utility bucket is required to transport soil, fertilizer, compost, weeds, and clippings. Gardeners can also use these devices to carry tools from one area to another. Wheelbarrows with two front wheels are easier to maneuver and control. A well-designed, weather-resistant garden cart, wheelbarrow, and utility bucket will withstand the elements and everyday use.
A string trimmer creates a clean edge around the garden and cuts tall grass. These tools are available in gas and electric models that can be corded or cordless. While gas-powered trimmers are the most powerful models, electric-powered trimmers are quieter and less expensive. Gas-powered and cordless models enable gardeners to perform gardening tasks in remote locations without the use of an extension cord. Using pre-filled replacement string cartridges makes it easier to refill the line when necessary.
Work gloves protect hands and fingers from harsh chemicals, noxious plants, and thorns. While cotton gloves with rubberized palms are less expensive, they absorb liquids and deteriorate quickly. Leather and synthetic gloves are usually more expensive, but they are more durable and offer better protection.
Garden forks have two or three times or blades. They can be used to turn and loosen compacted soil. The forks can also be used to remove grass and weeds or lift root vegetables and flower bulbs out of the soil without damaging the plants. Available in a variety of sizes, a garden fork has a dull blade and can be straight or curved.
It’s best to choose a short-handled one, because it will be useful for many jobs. This is a very versatile tool that can help you with numerous gardening jobs. It can be used for working in the dirt, and it’s also great for planting beds and planters in general. You may use a standard steel mattock or a stainless steel one. In case you clean your tools regularly (as you should), you probably won’t have to buy the stainless steel one.