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Home > Essentials of Gardening > Gardening Tools > The Right Tools
The Right Tools for Gardening
Round point shovelRound point shovel
The round point shovel is very versatile and popular with gardeners. It can be used to dig, scoop, or shovel dirt from one point to another.

Garden shovel
Slightly smaller and lighter than the round point shovel. It is used for lighter tasks, and preferable for less muscular persons.

Irrigation shovel
The same general design as a round point shovel, but it has a straighter shank. It is used for planting holes or ditches where a vertical side is desired.

Square point shovelSquare point shovel
The nose of the square point shovel is flat, and even edged. It is used fot leveling areas for patios or walkways, or for squaring off the sides and bottoms of ditches. It is also used as a scoop for gravel, soil, or snow. This shovel is handy to clean up the remnants of a pile.

Transplanting spade
Transplanting spadeTransplanting spades have a long narrow head which makes it ideal for digging and moving perennials and shrubs with minimal disturbance to surrounding plants.

Scoop shovelScoop shovel
Scoop shovels are designed to be used to move light materials such as sawdust or dried manure. But you cannot use this shovel for heavy amounts of materials.

D-handle shovels
D-handle shovelsD-handle shovels shorter and are designed for close up work and quick jobs. They are useful for moving piles of soil, sand or gravel, or for loading the wheelbarrow. Round head, square head, and scoop shovels as well as spading forks are available with D-handles.

Barn Forks
Barn forks have long, angled tines. Besides hay, they are also used for moving garden prunings, weeds, and other organic material.

Spading fork
Spading forkSpading forks perform a multitude of garden tasks. Primarily, they are used for tilling the soil and breaking up heavy dirt clods. They are also invaluable in weeding large areas where there is no danger of injuring the roots of desirable plants. There are many sizes available, with long or short handles, different tine length, and number of tines. Find one which feels comfortable to use. The tines of less expensive brands may tend to bend, so it is worth investing in quality when you make your choice.

Garden Hoe
Garden HoeThe conventional design of the garden hoe is a long handle with a flat blade set at a right angle on the end. Garden hoes come in different widths from 2 1/2 inches to 8 inches wide. Hoes are used to weed and groom the soil around shallow rooted plants. They can also be used to chop off annual weeds (perennial weeds must be dug and removed) and plants at ground level, or the pointed corners can be used as a light duty pick.

Scuffle hoe
Scuffle hoeScuffle hoes are used much as you would a shuffleboard mallet. They are pushed ahead of you to cut the tops of annual weeds (perennial weeds must be dug and removed) rather than chopping them as you would with a garden hoe.

Weeding hoe
Weeding hoeA weeding hoe is nothing more than a two sided tool head. One edge being a narrow hoe, and the other side being a 2 or 3 tined weeder.

Warren hoe
Warren hoeWarren hoes are used for cultivating between plants, and for creating furrows for planting rows. The "ears" on the back of the head are designed to pull the soil back onto newly planted seeds.

CultivatorCultivators may have from one to five pointed tines. They are used in a chopping and pulling motion to remove shallow rooted weeds, and to break up surface soil crust around plants.

BowrakeThe traditional `steel` rake is actually called a bow rake. The head may be anywhere from 8 inches to 24 inches wide. The head is connected to the handle by a steel `bow` at each end. These bows act as shock absorbers, giving this tool the strength to do serious raking of heavier materials.

Level head rake
The level headed rake is much the same as a bow rake, except that the back of the head is straight and even, and it connects to the handle in the center. This straightedge is used for leveling seedbeds. The corners may also be used for creating furrows.

Lawn rake
Lawn rakeLawn rakes come in a wide variety of sizes and designs. They may be constructed of bamboo, metal or plastic, and they may be fan shaped or rectangular. For a long time it was believed that a bamboo rake was a `must` for a nice lawn, but I would recommend that you forget that old gardeners tale, and just go shopping for a rake that feels comfortable to use.

Pruning shear
Pruning shearAs a gardener, your pruning shears will get a lot of usage. There are several designs available; blade and anvil, hook and blade, special rose pruners. The important thing is to buy a pruner which fits your hand well, and is easy to operate. The new `ratchet` type pruners do work well for larger branches, but they are somewhat slow and cumbersome to use for all of your pruning needs.

Hedge shear
Hedge shearHedge shears are not for pruning, but for evenly shaping hedges and shrubs, and for shearing back ground covers and faded flower heads. Do not attempt to cut larger branches with a hedge shear.

Lopping shear
Most lopping shears are designed for cutting branches an inch in diameter or smaller, but larger heavy duty models are also available. The longer the handle length, the easier each cut will be.

TrowelYour trowel will become a constant companion at different times of the year. These little shovels are invaluable during planting season, so find one which has the right `feel` to it. You may wish to have a couple different trowels for different uses. (Drop shank trowel for general use, straight shank trowel for planting bulbs)

CultivatorHand cultivators are essential for your `sit down` weeding. They allow you to dig down and remove tap roots of perennial weeds without excessively disturbing the roots of surrounding plants.

WeederA weeder could best be described as a wide screwdriver with a notch in the end. This long narrow design allows you to dig down the side of the tap root of dandelions and other tap root weeds. These are also useful for weeding between stepping stones or in tight areas.

Wheelbarrows are quickly being replaced in home gardens, by the popular new two wheeled garden carts. The two wheeled carts are much easier for most people to use, because they are lighter, and more of the load weight is supported by wheels. They are considerably more stable than single wheeled barrows, but not nearly as maneuverable. For heavy duty work or large loads, a steel wheelbarrow is still the best option.

Rain barrels
These rain barrels are the ultimate in recycling. Not only are you collecting rain water to reduce using expensive treated drinking water on your lawn and garden, but you are also helping recycle barrels that were originally used to hold peppers from Greece.

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