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Gardening Tools
Basic gardening tools for the home gardener

Home garden tools

With a handy supply of primary garden aids, you won't be constantly thwarted by commonplace tasks, such as digging a hole, cutting a twig or tilling the soil.

The savy gardener knows the value of garden tools. If you're in doubt as to which tools you would like or need, try out some of your neighbor's tools. But don't be a permanent borrower; it's bad for everyone's disposition.

Tools can be bought at garden supply, department or hardware stores and at some lumber yards. Shop carefully for your first garden tools and be sure to only buy quality tools. Good quality tools should last for many years far outlasting cheaper ones.

Buy your tools a little at a time

If you follow your hunches, and buy the most familiar tools—shovel, rake, and hoe—you'll be right. But how about all the other tools offered? Actually, most of these were originally introduced to do specific agricultural jobs, but sometimes a home gardener found other functions for one or two of them, or the manufacturer altered a tool's design to fit the home gardener's needs.

The asparagus knife, for example, makes a dandy weeder, and the Warren hoe, originally designed for making furrows and for seeding operations, is now used more in home gardens for cultivating around shrubs. These are things that you will learn as you go along. So, start your tool collection sparingly and build it up as your needs become apparent.

You'll need as a minimum :

  • A spade or long-handled shovel for digging holes to place large plants.

  • A spading fork for turning over and loosening soil. (You'll find there are "ladies' sizes" available for both spade and fork.)

  • A trowel for digging holes for small plants, mixing soil, and innumerable other small chores. My preference is for a sharp-pointed one similar to a small mason's trowel, because it's useful for cultivating, too. Those with slightly rounded sides, like miniature shovels, are excellent for digging small plants and making holes in which to place them.

  • A rake for smoothing soil that's been dug, and tidying up messes.

  • A hoe for cultivating and weeding.

  • Hand pruners for pruning small size growth and picking flowers. These should be of good quality and should fit your hand and grip. Try out several at the store.

  • A watering can and/or garden hose

Gardening Tools - Basic pointers and uses


Long handle, round point. A versatile tool for digging and scooping. The round-point irrigation shovel (see sketch of two shovels at right) has a straighter shank, which gives it more strength and makes it better for digging planting holes, transplanting seedlings or digging ditches with vertical sides.
Basic Gardening Tools - Spade, Fork, Rake, Hoe and Trowel


Long handle spading fork. Long handle gives good leverage when you are working in hard soil. Breaks up adobe clods during soil preparation better than a spade. Buy the best quality fork; otherwise, tines may bend.


Level head rakes aid in composting. The flat top is used to level seed beds and make seed furrows. It won't do the heavy work the bow rake will.


Garden hoes. There are hoes for just about every job. The 6-inch-wide hoe is the most commonly used tool when tackling weeds.


One of the most personal of all garden tools. Shop around until you get one that fits your hand, is well-balanced, and light enough to handle easily when working with seeds and transplants.

Quality counts

When you buy garden tools, get the very best you can afford. A top quality product, if properly taken care of, will last you through most of your gardening years.
Don't buy any tool until you have checked it over thoroughly. Lift and swing the piece of equipment around a bit to test its weight and proper balance. A man-sized hoe may be just right for you but too heavy for anyone else in the family. How about handle length?

You may feel that a long-handled spade or fork is easier to wield. (It's a good idea to take along all the gardening members of the family when you're out buying garden tools.) Try the grip on all small hand tools. Get the one that "feels right" in your hand.

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