The 5 gardening tools every gardener needs

While many clever gardening tools are available, all you really need are these basic gardening tools. They can help you to do most gardening chores in a flash.

The 5 gardening tools every gardener needs

1. Standard shovels and spades

  • A shovel is used for scooping loose materials, such as sand, while a spade is made for digging. But many stores use the terms interchangeably.
  • D-shaped handles make it easier to lift what you have dug or scooped.
  • Look for forged metal with a sharp digging edge. A slick metal surface allows material to slide off easily.
  • A trowel is a mini-spade, for planting annuals and perennials.
  • A spading fork is used for turning over soil and compost.
  • A square spade is used for turning over existing bed and planting large plants
  • A drain spade is an elongated shovel ideal for digging post holes.
  • Quality shovels and spades are forged rather than made of cast or welded metal. If the metal part wiggles even slightly, don't buy it.

2. Lawn Rakes

A lawn rake is a lightweight tool ideal for removing fall leaves, twigs and other debris. A ground rake is used for smoothing new and existing beds.Buy tools securely attached to the handles. None of the parts should wiggle. Metal will last longer and perform better than plastic or wood.

3. Hoes

  • A broad hoe moves soil, digs planting trenches and weeds.
  • A shuffle or action hoe skims just under the surface, slicing weed stems.
  • A warren hoe works in tight areas.
  • The metal part of a hoe should be attached to the handle with solid-socket construction so it won't come loose.
  • Smooth wooden handles will resist splintering.

4. Watering cans and hoses

  • A watering can is suited for watering jobs too small for a hose.
  • Watering cans should have at least a 7.5 litre (two gallon) capacity, but should be easy to carry when full.
  • A garden hose carries water longer distances. Attach two or more together to reach further.
  • Adjustable nozzles do everything from gently sprinkling new plants to delivering a hard stream for garden cleanup.
  • With other watering tools, brass parts and fittings are more durable than plastic.

5. Wheelbarrows

  • A wheelbarrow or two-wheeled yard cart is used for hauling leaves or soil and collecting weeds and debris.
  • A tool caddy totes seeds and tools. Made of canvas, it fits over a round 19 litre bucket.
  • The sturdiest wheelbarrows are made of one piece of heavy steel with extra braces on the legs.
  • Your wheelbarrow should have heavy wooden handles that are attached with countersunk bolts.
  • For heavy loads, a yard cart is easier to manoeuvre than a wheelbarrow.

To sharpen a garden-tool blade

  • To sharpen a garden-tool blade, hold the tool in a vice. Then, use a coarse file or a second-cut file to re-establish the bevel along the cutting edge.
  • To get a sharp digging edge, use a smooth, fine file or a sharpening stone. Keep the file angle consistent and the pressure uniform, and stroke in only one direction.

While fancier gardening tools are constantly coming out, every gardener needs the basics that can do just about anything. So whether you're just starting out or wondering about getting more tools, it's best to make sure these in your shed above all others.

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