Garden Gear 101

Gardening,Home & Family
January 28, 2012

Having the right equipment makes tasks easier

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The personal garden, both flower and vegetable, can provide hours of enjoyment for the gardener. Whether you are a novice or a veteran, having the right equipment can make your gardening experience easier and more fun. Consider a small investment in a few basic tools and garden gear to enrich your hobby.

Must-have tools. The National Gardening Association suggests eight basic tools for every gardener. These include a trowel, spade, hoe, pruning shears, a long-bladed knife, a canvas bag, and both a garden rake and a lawn rake. Other must-have tools include a garden fork, a large plastic scoop and a multi-purpose shovel. Don’t forget a watering can, but be sure to choose one that will not be too heavy to carry when it is full.

Trowel, spade, hoe and fork. A hand trowel is the ideal tool for weeding and planting. Look for trowels with a stainless steel head that is secured tightly to the handle. If the head and handle connection seems flimsy, it will bend and fold after a few uses. A spade with a sharp point and long handle makes easy work for jobs such as digging holes or turning over the soil when preparing a flower or vegetable bed. A sharp-blade hoe is needed for chopping weeds, creating trenches for seeds and many other gardening tasks. Use a stainless steel garden fork to clear weeds from in between plants and to turn the soil when transplanting.

Pruning shears. “Pruning is a horticultural practice that alters the form and growth of a plant. Based on aesthetics and science, pruning can also be considered preventative maintenance,” states Mike Zins and Deborah Brown, horticulturists at the University of Minnesota Extension Office. Choose between two types of hand pruners, either bypass or anvil style. The bypass style has blades that cross like a pair of scissors, whereas the anvil style cuts like a knife across a cutting board.

Rakes and shovel. Choose a garden rake with strong teeth that can really bite into the soil, leveling it after you have hoed or spaded. It is ideal for clearing out old plants and debris when preparing your garden for a new season. A lawn rake is essential for clearing leaves, small twigs and grass from your lawn and garden areas. Consider one with an ergonomic design if you have larger areas to be cleared. Every garden needs a multi-purpose shovel. A grain shovel works best for moving landscaping rock, sand and piles of weeds to the compost bin.

What to wear. Every gardener needs a good pair of gardening gloves. Opt for a pair that are comfortable and allow for flexibility and movement. A snug wristband will help keep dirt and debris out of the glove and away from your skin. Reinforced fingertips can help protect you from thorns and other prickly problems. Don’t forget a wide-brim hat, sunscreen and a pair of waterproof clogs or boots.