Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Few Gardening Tools

If you are going to get your start in gardening, then it is vital that you are familiar with some of the basic tools of the trade. Here is a listing with brief explanations to help you get started.

A wheelbarrow is a must for any gardener who is doing more than just planting a few flowers. Wheelbarrows, as most people know, have one wheel. You lift the barrow by the handles and then roll it along. The best part about a wheelbarrow is that it helps you move heavier items as well as to carry mulch and clippings across distances. The biggest consideration when you are purchasing a wheelbarrow is how large it is. You do not need to get one that is too big for your garden because it will be cumbersome, and storage could be a problem.

A lawnmower is something that many people probably feel is essential, but it is not. If you have grass, of course, you will need one. Otherwise, you can stick to something that will eat up the clippings and turn them to mulch. You can find less expensive models than lawnmowers to do this job.

Gloves are the essential hand tool of the garden. While you may be tempted to skip out on the gloves, avoid this temptation. You will need two pair of gloves for your garden outings. You should purchase a thin pair for any light work you have, such as wedding or transplanting. Then you will need a thick pair to protect your hands if you have any prickly shrubs or others objects that could damage your hands.

In addition to gloves, you should be sure to purchase a quality pair of goggles. You will need them many times when you are gardening. Pruning is one of the primary times when you will want your eyes protected. A gardening-related eye injury is no fun, so be sure to take precautions.

When you are ready to begin digging, a spade will come in handy. It is the most basic of gardening tools, and one that every gardener should own. If you really get into gardening, you will want to buy more than one, but a single spade should suffice for now. A spade is basically like a small shovel. In fact, many people call spades shovels, but they are not exactly the same. A spade is used for gardening primarily herb or flower gardens. Most people who purchase spades get one with a short handle so that they can get on their hands and knees and work close to the ground. If you will be using the spade for larger plants, consider one with a longer handle. Invest in a good spade, stainless steel if you can, because you will use it often.

A cousin of the spade is a spading fork. Many people have seen them but probably do not know what they are called. They have short handles most often (and that is what works best) and look like a bent pitchfork on the end. Most of them have three trowels on them so that they can break up dirt. They are used to break up organic matter to make it easier to plant. Be sure that you get a spading fork that is not too heavy, or you will regret it when you get into a big job.

Hedge trimmers are a must in the hedged, suburban lawn. You will need to get a pair of hedge-trimmers if you have shrubs or hedges of any kind. If you have planted small shrubs, then you should think about shears, especially if price is a factor. Instead you will find that investing in electric hedge-trimmers will save you some work and will produce a great finished product. Avoid gas-powered trimmers if you can. They are heavier to lug around. They also are more expensive because you must pay for the gas to power them, and they are noisy.

These tools should get you started. As you move along in your gardening plans, you will discover that you will want to get more and more tools. Be sure that you have the right tools before you buy any plant so that you can care for it properly. And be sure to care for your tools. They will make your gardening life easier.

By Julia Mercer

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