Good tools are like keys; they unlock the secrets of your garden; take you through the gateways of success and allow you to turn your garden, however big or small, into something truly beautiful.
Good gardening tools are the medium by which the imaginations of the heart become a stunning reality. A gardener without tools is severely handicapped; tools without a passionate gardener are useless, but put tools into the hand of the fervent gardener and the results will surpass your wildest dreams.
It is unthinkable to imagine a surgeon performing a delicate operation with a butter knife. The same principle applies to gardening: to achieve maximum results, you must have the appropriate equipment to perform each task. Correct tools make the job faster, simpler and far more rewarding.
Small Hand Tools
Pruning and shearing:
1. By-pass Secateurs: a small pair of pruning shears with pivoted handles which are sprung so that they are always open. They can be used to trim many different plants and flowers, and are strong enough to cut with ease through small branches and woody stems. Invaluable when pruning fruit trees. A good quality pair of secateurs should last you a long time, if not a lifetime and will be one of the most important items in your gardening outfit.
2. Ratchet Secateurs: a more heavy duty type of secateurs with a built in ratchet system which makes it easier to cut thicker branches. These secateurs are also perfect for gardeners with weak hands or hand injuries, as they require a lot less effort and force to operate.
3. Loppers: long handled secateurs that have extra leverage and can be used to cut higher branches. Loppers may also have a ratchet system which simply adds extra force to the cutting and allows for cutting branches of up to several inches in diameter.
4. Flower Snips: straight handled cutters with long, pointed blades, sharpened in much the same way as scissors. They make very clean cuts and are excellent for trimming dead blooms, cutting flowers for displays, gathering herbs or taking plant cuttings. A must-have for every flower gardener.
5. Pruning Saw: small hand saw used for cutting branches and stems that are too thick for secateurs. Ideal for use in constricted working conditions or when using a ladder. Blade may be straight or curved, and has many sharp teeth. Some models are designed to fold for safer and more convenient carrying and storage.
6. Pole Pruner: a pruning saw on a long pole which can be used to cut higher branches. Extendable poles, made of aluminium or fiberglass, allow the gardener to hugely increase his/her cutting range from the ground, without having to use a ladder. Caution must be used when cutting any branches above head height.
7. Bow Saw: a ‘D’ shaped saw that is perfect for arborists as it can be used for cutting nearly any sized limb or even felling small trees. Not as easy to use in confined spaces.
8. Grass Shears: grass shears, as the name suggests, large shears that are used to cut grass in areas where a wire brush cutter may cause plant damage, e.g.: around the base of trees and edges of flower gardens. They differ from pruning shears in that the long, straight handles are set at right angles to the blades, allowing the gardener to work with greater accuracy and precision.
9. Hedge Shears: large shears used for trimming or shaping decorative hedges or shrubbery. Designed to cut many small branches at one time, hedge shears are perfect for checking annual growth of plants and maintaining straight and orderly bushes.
Planting / Weeding:
10. Trowel / Transplanter: very small spades with a long, narrow blades that are designed for precision when digging in garden beds or planting border plants. The blade shape creates minimal disturbance to the surrounding area, which makes it perfect for close plantings. The transplanter has a narrower blade than the trowel.
11. Weeder: a fork-like implement, sometimes known as a dandelion weeder, which is invaluable for removing weeds, especially those with a tap root system. The prongs are designed to dig in below the surface and lift the weed by the root.
12. Hori-Hori Knife: commonly known as a Japanese gardener’s knife, useful for many and varied odd-jobs in the garden: digging small holes, weeding, separating plants, bulbs or tubers, cutting out weeds between pavers and countless more. Having one in your belt might save you many trips to the shed for a specific tool.
13. Small Hand Fork: excellent tool for digging, aerating, transplanting or adding fertilizer to the soil. The hand fork can be used in areas where minimal soil disturbance is required, especially flower gardens and between border plantings.
14. Bulb Planter: a small tool that takes the hard work out of planting bulbs each year. This small tool has a handle and is shaped much like a scone cutter. When pushed into the ground, it removes the soil in a plug so that the bulb can be easily planted and the soil replaced. Many brands are calibrated, which makes it easy to accurately measure the depth at which to plant each type of bulb.
Long Handled Tools:
15. Leaf Rake: lightweight rake with wide a plastic head and thin tines, ideal for raking up leaves and other litter from grassed areas. Cheap to purchase and absolutely essential to maintain a litter-free lawn area, these rakes require very little effort to use.
16. Flat Rake: a T-shaped head that is made of metal and attached straight onto the handle for greater strength. The flat rake can be used for levelling soil, gravel, spreading out bark and other applications that require stronger tines than those of the leaf rake.
17. Gravel Rake: used for levelling and smoothing out gravel surfaces. Tines must be appropriately spaced to suit the size of the rocks that need to be spread.
18. Hoe (regular): a thin, square blade set at right angles to the handle, hat is used to break up clods of soil or cut out weeds. The hoe can also be used to smooth the surface of the soil, especially between rows of plantings.
19. Weeding Hoe: a dual purpose tool that has a thin, square chopping blade on one side and a weed digging prong on the other side. Can perform all the tasks of a regular hoe, as well as assisting with pulling out large weeds by their roots.
20. Warren Hoe: a hoe with a v-shaped triangular blade that is perfect for digging furrows. The point digs into the soil and when dragged gently through the dirt, it creates a neat line for planting. When turned on its side, the same tool is useful for filling in the furrow lines too. Also, the neat point makes the warren hoe an excellent choice for aerating and weeding in confined spaces and tightly planted beds, and can be used close to plants without causing excessive soil disturbance.
21. Onion Hoe: has a long, rectangular blade that is ideal for use under the leaves of foliage or in beds with ample space. The width of the blade may be difficult to use in crowded beds or between close lines of plantings.
22. Loop / Action Hoe: as the name suggests, the end on this hoe is a loop, much the same shape as the stirrup on a horse saddle. The beauty of this tool is that it can be used with both a forward or backward movement, and slides beneath the surface of the dirt, aerating and slicing through weeds from underneath.
23. Garden Fork: this is one of the workhorses of the garden. The traditional garden fork has four strong, pointed tines that penetrate easily into the toughest of soils, even clay. They are essential for breaking undisturbed ground for a new garden bed or harvesting root crops. The strongest forks are forged from a single piece of metal.
24. Hay Fork: has long, rounded tines that are bent up slightly on the ends. Lightweight and easy to use, the hay fork is designed for moving quantities of loose materia1l such as hay, compost or manure, without bending.
25. Digging / Spading Fork: has four flat faced tines that make it ideal for turning soil, especially in areas where the soil is loamy, sandy or rocky. The spading fork is excellent for harvesting root crops, lifting bulbs, adding nutrients or aerating compacted soils.
Spades / Shovels / Digging Tools:
26. Garden Spade: essential for every gardener, the garden spade is one of the first and most valuable assets in the garden shed. With a rectangular blade approximately 10” x 7”, the garden spade can be used for many and varied tasks, from turning soil to edging, cutting and lifting. The strongest spades are forged, not pressed, from a single piece of metal and have a strapped handle fastening.
27. Trench Spade: a long, thin, pointed head with squared sides, excellent, as the name suggests, for digging and clearing trenches. The long, straight handle makes it easy to use in confined spaces. Ideal for digging out irrigation trenches or deeply rooted plants.
28. Drain Spade: a long, thin head with rounded sides, ideal for precise digging. Excellent when digging drains or adding plants to an already closely planted area, as the shape of the blade creates minimal soil disturbance.
29. Scoop Shovel: not designed for digging, but invaluable for moving quantities of loose material, e.g. gravel, compost, mulch, grain or even snow. There is a shovel specifically designed for nearly every chore in the garden!
30. Scraper: useful for scraping away debris, ice or snow from pathways and driveways. Can also be used to cut out weeds between pavers or in gravelled walkways.
31. Mattock: a tool that has a combination of cutting and chopping blades. The mattock is a something that you may never need to use, but, depending on your garden and soil type, it may be one you get out regularly. Invaluable for cutting through and digging out stumps, invading roots, rocks and breaking up hard soils or clay.
32. Pick / Pickaxe: a tool with two sharp, pointed ends that is used for breaking up hard soil. May be useful to dig around and prise out large rocks or stumps.
33. Post Hole Digger: a tool designed to dig deep, narrow holes with maximum precision. Although it may be sometimes regarded as a luxury item, it takes the heartache out of digging multiple holes for fence posts or signs.
34. Tamping / Digging bar: a long, straight metal bar with a chiselled end that is used to break up hard soils, concrete or rocks. A tool that may be invaluable, especially when creating garden beds in previously untouched soils.
35. Garden Broom: large, heavy duty broom that is suitable for sweeping up unwanted mess on hard surfaces such as driveways, pavers, tiles, decking and concrete. The garden broom is essential for creating that finished look after lawn mowing, weeding or just generally tidying up.
36. Half-moon Edger: a half-moon shaped blade attached to a long handle, used to cut easily into turf around driveways or paths. Used in the same way as a spade, this method can be slow and labour intensive, however it is precise and is especially good for buffalo grass and kikuyu lawns.
37. Step-in Edger: using the same half-moon shaped blade as the traditional edger, this tool has a foot pad on the top so that the blade can be stepped into the soil. It is much faster to operate and requires less effort than the traditional edger.
38. Disc Edger: this tool looks like and works in basically the same manner as a large pizza wheel. It is designed to trim edges against a hard surface such as concrete or pavers. The locate wheel is set on the hard surface and the circular blade is run along the edge of that surface, cutting the grass or groundcover.
39. Wheel Edger: designed to edge walkways and paths, the blades of this star-shaped tool work with a scissor-like action and, when pushed back and forth, cut through grass or groundcover to create a neat edge. Excellent for use on couch lawns.
40. Garden Hose: a length of flexible pipe that is used to conduct water. Garden hoses come in many and varied colours and lengths and there are numerous connectors and fittings that allow hoses to be joined or attached to other tools.
41. Soaker / Sprinkler Hose: flexible pipe with small pores or holes in it that is used to water lawn areas or garden beds. A very efficient method of watering, with minimal runoff or waste.
42. Garden Sprinkler: a stand with a revolving head or a perforated ring that is connected to a garden hose and used to water lawn areas or garden beds. Sprinklers are very commonly used in home gardens, although they are by no means the most efficient way to water the garden.
43. Watering Can: a traditional watering pot, usually having both a spout and a handle, used for watering plants and flowers. Watering cans are one of the most ancient of the gardening tools, however modern versions can be made from plastic or metal, and can be purchased in a great range of colours and with various spout and nozzle shapes to suit nearly any application.
44. Water Wand: a long handled watering attachment that connects to a regular garden hose. The water wand can be used with great precision, which makes it ideal for watering hanging plants or gardens with restricted areas.
45. Wheel Barrow: a faithful friend and all-time traditional piece of equipment for the garden. The single-wheel wheelbarrow can be used to cart nearly anything in the garden: compost, soil, rubbish, clippings, stones or tools. Using a wheelbarrow requires a certain amount of strength and balance, however they are easy to load and unload and quickly become an indispensable asset.
46. Garden Cart: a more modern spin on the traditional wheelbarrow, the common garden cart has two wheels at the front and either a support or two more wheels at the back. It can be used to perform most of the same tasks as the wheelbarrow, and, although it is generally more stable, it may not be as manoeuvrable.
47. Gardening Gloves: gloves worn to protect the hands from gardening hazards. The gardener inevitably comes into contact with dirt, chemicals and plants that cause cuts and abrasions, so gloves are worn to protect the hands. Gloves come in a huge range of fabrics and styles, with some especially designed to enhance grip and keep out moisture.
48. Gardening Cuffs: a separate piece of cloth that is worn around the wrist or ankle to prevent material getting into the gloves or socks of the gardener. Cuffs may prevent a lot of discomfort and frustration while performing garden duties.
49. Rubber Boots / Gumboots: boots made of rubber that are excellent for use in the garden. Rubber boots are relatively cheap to purchase, keep the feet dry and safe, and can be used in almost any gardening situation. They are easy to hose down at the end of each use and a good quality pair will last a very long time.
50. Knee Protection: gardening requires a lot of kneeling: weeding, mulching, planting out etc. all of which take their toll on the knees. Protective knee pads are a must to keep the joints in good condition.
51. Sun Hat: a traditional and extremely important addition to the gardening kit. The gardener must be protected from harmful UV rays, so as to prevent skin cancers. The hat should be a snug fit and made of breathable material.
Power Tools for the Garden
Perfectly manicured lawns and blooming flower beds are the envy any passionate gardener.
But they require dedication, zeal and lots of hard work.
However, power tools can literally halve the effort and time you spend on performing necessary tasks, making the job much more enjoyable.
52. Rotary Hoe: a cultivating tool used to break up soil and destroy weeks. The implement consists of several rows of fines or prongs that rotate and dig up the soil as it is moved across the surface. In the domestic garden scenario, most people choose to use the petrol powered rotary hoe – a tool that saves the backbreaking work of digging up a large vegetable patch or lawn area.
53. Hedge Trimmer: a power tool used to trim bushes, shrubs or trees. Hedge trimmers make light work of trimming and shaping bushes and can literally halve the time spent on this formidable task. With blades that cut through small branches and leaves with ease, a trimmer, either electric, petrol or battery operated, gives a perfect finish.
54. Chainsaw: a powerful tool that cuts with a row of sharp teeth on a rotating chain. A chainsaw will cut through branches or tree trunks with ease, saving the gardener the hard work of using a manual saw. Caution must be used when operating a chainsaw.
55. Leaf blower: versatile piece of equipment that blows air through a nozzle, making it excellent for cleaning up fallen leaves and other garden debris. Depending on the size and capacity, leaf blowers can be used to clear snow from driveways and paths and remove leaves from gutters. Some models have the ability to double as an outdoor vacuuming system. Size varies wildly, from small hand-held units to large walk-behind ones.
56. String Trimmer: otherwise known as a ‘weed-whacker’, ‘whipper-snipper’, ‘brush cutter’ or ‘weed-eater’. A tool that uses a rotating flexible plastic twine to cut grass and weeds. Excellent for tidying up edges and cutting out weeds. A trimmer is essential for creating that clean and finished look to any lawn area.
57. Lawn Mower: a petrol-driven, electric or hand operated machine that uses revolving blades to cut grass to an even height. Mowers can be purchased readily from most hardware stores and are vital to maintaining a beautiful, even and healthy lawn area.