The 5 Absolutely Essential Garden Tools

Gardening is a healthy, exciting and creative form of exercise that will improve your strength, flexibility and stamina. However, without the right equipment and tools, gardening simply can be a frustrating and difficult chore. Here is my list of the 5 most essential pieces of gardening equipment which simply must be close at hand every time I head out into my gardens:

1. Trowel – A trowel is a necessity to set small plants and helpful to dig weeds. There are many styles to choose from, so choose one with an easy and comfortable grip. Always try one out in your hand first to ensure it feels comfortable. Trowels with narrow blades are best for transplanting seedlings, while ones with the wider blades will move more earth quickly. Look for a good steel blade with a sharp edge and an ergonomic but strong handle. You will probably want both types of trowels.

2. Garden fork – A garden fork is a gardening tool which has 4 to 6 reinforced prongs and a strong handle. The sizes of forks vary, depending on what they are being used for. The space between each prong varies as well. Garden forks are used to separate, lift and toss loose pieces of material such as dirt and leaves. You can use one to aerate and loosen soil before planting, or to turn your compost pile. Small garden forks are often paired with trowels, and are invaluable when you’re working in a small garden area or are gardening in containers.

3. Spade and shovel – A gardening spade has a long, thick handle and a heavy flat steel blade. This tool is a must to dig up and move dirt from one place to another. It can also be used to pack down dirt once your plant has been planted. Like a spade, a shovel can be used also for digging, but it has a curved steel blade that is slightly pointed. Make sure your shovel’s blade has a flat top so you can use it for leverage with your foot. This type is great for lifting plants and digging holes for planting.

4. Pruning Shears – Pruning shears come with two main types of cutting action – either anvil cutting or by-pass cutting. Anvil pruners have one sharp blade that comes down on a flat surface. Bypass pruners have one blade that is sharpened on only one side and swings by-passes a a curved but flat surface that holds the branch being pruned. Look for pruners that are made of good carbon steel and have replaceable parts. This is an essential tool for precisely pruning bushes, vines and other plants. No other piece of gardening equipment can do the same job as your pruning shears. Always invest in good quality pruning shears that have a lifetime guarantee. Loppers are another type of garden shear, with longer handles for more leverage in cutting larger branches. They usually have a ratcheting action to increase the cutting ability. Loppers are necessary if you have large bushes or trees.

5. Wheelbarrow or gardening cart – A wheelbarrow is a large and absolutely indispensable piece of garden equipment. There will always be things to haul – compost, tools, plants, weeds, stones and so on. With the sloping sides and single wheel, they are easy to maneuver and to dump out. Another option is a wheeled gardening cart.These have a flat bottom, two or four wheels, and are pulled rather than pushed. Although more stable than wheelbarrows, they are harder to maneuver on rough ground, and harder to empty.

There are many pieces of gardening equipment that can make your gardening chores easier and more efficient. These are the ones generally recognized by gardeners as the most important. Stored properly and kept clean from dirt and rust, they can last through years of gardening.

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