The right tool makes gardening more efficient, effective, and fun. Some gardeners have individual tools for every task, while others make one tool serve several purposes. I prefer to keep just a few favorite tools on hand; let me tell you about them.
Six of My Favorite Gardening Tools
1. Digging fork. A good digging fork serves many purposes. I use it to break new ground, dig up plants, and turn my compost pile. You can divide perennial herbs by placing two forks back to back in the center of a clump and spreading them apart starting with the handles. In a pinch a fork can take the place of a rake.
2. Hand weeder. A Korean weeder/cultivator has a seven inch curved steel blade. In addition to doing a great job at close weeding and cultivating, this tool is perfect for making holes for planting annuals and vegetables. I keep mine in my back pocket whenever I’m in the garden.
3. Cart. A garden cart or wheelbarrow can save you many trips walking back and forth with supplies, compost, and plants. Whatever you choose, make sure it can easily fit into your garden and between your rows. I like my folding wheelbarrow; it lies flat on the ground for easy loading, and takes up very little space in the garden and in my storage shed.
4. Long-handled hoes. Swan neck hoe, hula hoe, circle hoe, warren hoe, gooseneck hoe, scuffle hoe, regular garden hoe—these are just some of the different types of hoes on the market. Borrow a few and try them out before you decide which one to buy.
5. Small tiller. Big rototillers are good for turning your garden in the spring, but if you want to work between the rows you’ll need a smaller version. Lightweight yet powerful, small tillers are easy to maneuver and fit in tight spaces. My two-cycle tiller that weighs less than 20 pounds is easy for me to use.
6. Shears. Pruning shears come in two basic types: (1) Bypass shears are like scissors; the two blades bypass each other, and (2) Anvil shears have one blade that drops down on a flat metal surface, the anvil. I prefer bypass shears because I find they make a cleaner cut. I’m never without my hand shears because I never know when I might need them.
Gardening Tool Tips
·Look for ergonomically designed tools. Non-slip grips take less effort, longer handles let you work without bending your back, and angled tools keep your wrists comfortably positioned.
·Keep your tools clean and sharp. I clean my shears with alcohol between uses to make sure I don’t transfer any disease organisms from plant to plant.
·Buy good tools. Well-made tools last longer and work better.
To Learn More About Gardening Tools:
There’s a lot to know about garden tools. Commercial, government, and educational websites have a wealth of good information. I’ve selected three extension articles you might enjoy.
Gardening Tools, as seen through the eyes of the University of Florida.
Oregon State can tell you all about Adapting Garden Tools to Overcome Physical Challenges.
The University of Illinois has a great article about Winterizing Garden Tools.