to Use and Care for Them
you get in the spirit of gardening, you'll be
amazed at how many different tools you can acquire to
make your work in the garden easier and more enjoyable.
If you take your gardening seriously, consider buying
only the best tools. The money will be well spent
in terms of how long the tools last. The
best-quality tools are made of steel and have handles
made of quality hardwood -- ash handles being the most
durable. Tools with plastic handles may be less
expensive, but may not last as long as you would like
Trowel -- an excellent tool for gardening in
containers and small spaces; mixing potting media;
planting seedlings; and digging out weeds. Most have a
wooden handle and broad or narrow blades. Blade widths
come in various sizes and lengths depending upon the
intended use of the tool. Narrow, long blades are good
for planting bulbs and digging up weeds while wider
blades are useful for transplanting small potted plants
to the garden and mixing potting soil. Longer handled
trowels with smaller blades are great for use between
plants and shrubs.
Hoe -- long
handled; useful to remove sod; weed beds; edge beds; dig
planting holes. My favorite is the heart-shaped Disc-Hoe, one of
the most useful garden tools in my shed.
Cultivator -- a three pronged fork with a short
wooden handle. The sharp prongs make digging easier. The
tool is helpful to dislodge weeds and to cultivate in
narrow spaces between plants. Hand cultivators with
longer handles and four pronged forks are useful for
compost management and cultivating flower-beds without
Weeder -- a semi-pronged, sharp steel blade attached
to a hardwood handle. Hand weeders are great for
weeding, breaking up the soil, and cultivating. The
fish-tail design allows the gardener to cut the long tap
roots of weeds.
Round Pointed Shovel -- used to move soil and
compost; digging holes for trees and bushes;
transplanting; cutting through sod to break ground.
Probably one of the most indispensable tools in the
gardener's shed. Gardeners who have no other garden
tools should at least have one of these types of shovels.
Sharpened blade makes work easier.
Long-handled Spade -- has a flatter blade than a
shovel; used to dig planting holes; severe invasive
roots; designed for digging in unprepared ground to
improve drainage or to dig holes for larger shrubs and
Fork -- features
four flat tines; used to break up hard or compacted
soil; work compost, peat or manure into the soil;
turning/aerating a used bed in preparation for the next
season. Also good for lifting out perennials and shrubs,
taking just the plant without taking all the dirt.
Spade -- the preferred digging tool when planting in
confined spaces, in between existing plants in
herbaceous borders and shrub beds, for setting plants
and small shrubs. Ideal for edging. Blade must be kept
Bladed Edger -- Long handle and half-moon blade with
a sharp edge for marking garden beds and walks. Keep
blade sharpened with a file.
Rake or Soil Rake -- metal
rake with straight head, teeth a few inches long and
about an inch apart. Used to level planting beds after
cultivation; removing thatch from lawns.
High quality garden tools
are a smart investment for the serious gardener. The
best way to protect your investment is to clean your
tools after each use. A stiff bristle brush will clean
shovels, spades, forks, and hoes. A stiff putty knife
will help to clean off caked-on soil. Never put your
tools away wet. Always dry them with a towel before
lightly oiling the metal portions of the tools with an
oily rag. Always store the tools in a dry place after
The blades of cutting
tools should be sharpened at least once a year. You can
sharpen the blades yourself by running a Carborundum
stone or file along the beveled side of the blade. Very
dull or nicked blades should be taken to a professional
for sharpening. Be sure to oil all cutting blades after
use and cleaning. Be sure to store your tools in a dry place
Source: MARTHA STEWART'S GARDENING: MONTH BY MONTH