Tools You Need for Your New Gardening Journey
The gardening essentials you need for a life-fulfilling hobby
Both of us have been involved with gardening since we were youngsters. Our dad insisted that we spend every Saturday contributing to household upkeep by turning soil, weeding, planting, pruning, edging, fertilizing, watering and more. And although originally a chore, gardening has become a favorite hobby. The smell of rich soil, the beauty of spring blossoms, the joy of harvesting fruit and the pleasure of watching a favorite shrub grow tall and healthy are a but a few of the pleasant experiences associated with working in the garden.
The best thing about gardening is that it isn’t expensive. But a small investment in the proper set of tools can make a big difference.
Not everyone has a garden large enough to warrant a wheelbarrow, but for the average home it is an invaluable asset. The wheelbarrow can be used to haul everything from earth to plants to tools. Heck, you can even use it to mix concrete for hardscaping (the non-living part of the landscape). If you don’t have a storage shed always remember to store your wheelbarrow nose down. This will prevent water from puddling and causing rust.
Two types of shovels are a must for every basic gardening tool kit – a round nose and a spade. Don’t confuse a flat nose shovel with a spade. Flat nose shovels curl at each end of the tip where a spade has an absolutely flat tip. Where the round nose is used for digging holes and trenches, spade proves to be most valuable for edging. By the way, don’t go for a cheap shovel. To get your money’s worth you will need a tool that can take a beating. You will want the blade made from a good grade of steal and a handle made of a good hardwood that will bend and not break..
Two types of rakes are also a must. A lawn rake and a bow rake. Our dad always referred to the bow rake as the steel rake. We knew that what he meant to say was the rigid rake. The tines of a lawn rake are flexible (spring steel or plastic), and are designed to remove debris from lawns, bedding and ground cover minimizing damage to flora. The bow rake is designed to rake heavier debris from dirt and rock areas. Also, it is invaluable as a grading tool.
Electric chopping tools that cut weeds off at the ground are fast and easy to use. But, leaving the roots guarantees a lifetime of chopping. Root removal is what it take to remove them permanently. And for that purpose it is wise to invest in a garden hoe. Here again it is important to spend a little more and purchase a tool that has a sturdy hardwood handle and a high grade steel blade. With a good blade you be able to hone a sharp cutting edge making the hoe easier to use. Soft steel can be sharpened but will not hold an edge.
We have a combination of hose hooks and hose reels and we like the reels the best. The reel takes the work out of putting the hose away and crack creating kinks become a problem of the past. Hoses should be stored void of water. And draining the hose while rolling it onto a hose reel is 97 percent automatic.
Hedge shears are a must for shaping shrubs and hedges. There is no less expensive more effective way of creating all types of shapes from a lollypop to a cone to the outline of an animal. Here again high grade steel blades are a must. Good blades can be sharpened hundreds of times. And here’s a tip that will save premature replacement (there is a joke in that somewhere). After each use, rinse all garden tools (not just hedge shears), dry with a clean cloth and coat with oil – preferably a cutting oil. This reduces the chance for rust and lubricates moving parts insuring smooth, safe operation next time.
For those close up and personal jobs there are several other valuable hand tools: the trowel, the cultivator, the hand pruner, and grass shears. More often than not a shovel is just too large for planting small plants and cultivating small areas. The trowel and hand cultivator make light work of these tasks. The trick here is to get tools with comfortable handles And remember, it is safer to plant too shallow than it is to plant too deep. As a matter of fact, according to several landscape contractors who we know, the biggest killer of new plants is planting them too deep.
If you have the money you may want to invest in battery operated lawn shears. But, make sure to have a pair of the old fashioned hand operated kind in the even of battery failure. Isn’t it true that power tools never seem to fail unless there is an emergency!?!
And last but absolutely not least don’t forget a hand pruner. We like the kind with a cutting blade that closes against a wide base with a slot that accepts the cutting blade. Too often scissor style pruners spread and fail to cut effectively. Don’t be shy about using your hand pruner to trim dead wood and old blossoms. Pruning is more effective if you know where to prune. For example: with a rose, prune a flower back to any 5-leaf growth leaving the five leaves. And, good luck!