Tooling around the garden


Gardening encompasses flowers, vegetables and fruits, lawns and containers — both indoors and out. The type of gardening you enjoy will determine what tools you need to accomplish the tasks. The larger the yard, the more equipment you need. While some gardeners maintain large gardens, small and raised-bed gardens have become more popular, so the tools we need may have changed.

The Root Slayer shovel is a must-have tool for gardens with rocks and roots.

While some gardeners still use small tractors in the garden, many use a tiller or mini-tiller to turn soil. Lightweight mini-tillers can be lifted and used in raised-bed gardens or in-ground gardens. You can find them — gasoline or electric-powered — in a variety of sizes. Electric tools are gaining in popularity, and many major brands now have interchangeable batteries that can be used in everything from tillers and edgers to trimmers and blowers. A great shovel is a must-have tool for the garden. In-ground gardens often deal with rocks and roots. The Root Slayer shovel, which comes in a variety of sizes, has serrated edges which make cutting through roots a breeze. Raised beds rarely involve rocks, so a lightweight shovel can do the job. Handle length is also variable.

A sharp hoe is another must-have. While many think tilling weeds is the best way to control them, the process creates more weed problems by bringing more weed seeds to the surface. Cutting off the weed at the soil line with a sharp hoe is more effective. Hoes come in different styles, including flat head, triangular and stirrup, and come in different lengths. Ergonomic tools are designed to minimize physical effort and be more comfortable to use. Some have angled handles to help keep the wrist in a more natural position to reduce strain. Some have long handles to allow a longer reach without bending over. Some have padded handles or textured grips for more comfort.

Gardening hand tools come in a variety of sizes and purposes to accomplish any task.

All gardeners need a good hand tool. My favorite go-to tools are the Corona stainless steel multipurpose garden hand tool with a sharp hoe on one side and forked edge on the other side, and the 7-in-1 Planter’s Pal. Many others swear by a Hori-Hori garden knife. These tools have sharp edges on one side and serrated edges on the other. Another tool that lives in my garden kit is an inexpensive, serrated bread knife (think dollar store). I use that to root-prune container-bound plants and divide perennials.

Another good choice for a smaller garden is a telescopic, collapsible rake. Both the length of the handle and the width of the rake are adjustable. Mine can expand from 30 to 60 inches long and from 8 to 22 inches wide. It is not the sturdiest tool for a big raking job, but I have other rakes for that. I use it a lot in my flower beds and around smaller plants. At its narrowest rake size, the tines are stronger and can smooth out soil and mulch easily.

Collapsible buckets help with garden cleanup while helping to save space.

Other space-saving gadgets that can make gardening easier and be space-saving: a collapsible bucket and a collapsible yard bag. Both come in handy when you are cleaning the garden, and can fold flat and be stored easily.

Do your homework to find the right tools for your yard and your abilities. The larger the tool, the heavier it usually is. Weight, especially with weed whackers and blowers, is one of my criteria. I also don’t want to mess with cords, so I opt for electric tools with rechargeable batteries. Batteries have limited run time, but they tend to run out of power when I do! Each year, new tools are on the market with better performance and plenty of bells and whistles, but newer may not beat out your favorite, tried-and-true.