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Indispensable Tools for the Garden

By Lucinda Greene, Colorado Master Gardener Emeritus


Are you new to gardening and looking to acquire the most efficient tools for the job? While specialty gardening projects like bonsai may require specific tools, this list is a good start to help you get through most outdoor perennial, shrub and vegetable garden tasks:

  • Hori-Hori Knife: This Japanese garden knife is an all-purpose tool. Use it for digging small holes, transplanting seedlings, weeding, and other precision tasks.
  • Weed Cultivator: Great for extracting those hard-to-manage sidewalk- and driveway-crack weeds. The narrow blade is also useful for cultivating between tight rows in the garden.
  • Hoe: This tool is wonderful for breaking up soil, incorporating amendments and removing weeds before planting. The long handles can protect tender backs and knees. There are several distinct types of hoes for various purposes.
  • Garden spade or shovel: For starters, select a shovel with an integrated handle that is less likely to break, and a sharp spade. The sharp point can be useful for digging through heavy clay or rocky soil.
  • Rakes: Leaf rakes and garden rakes are the go-to tool for removing plant debris and leaves, spreading mulch, and leveling soil for planting.
  • Pruning Shears: Essential for pruning woody shrubs, shears trim branches to maintain plant health. By-pass pruners make a cleaner cut than anvil pruners. Blade sizes come in ½-inch, ¾-inch, and more. Select the appropriate size pruner for the branch size.
  • Pruning Saw: This tool can cut larger branches that pruning shears cannot manage.
  • Watering can or hose with spray wand: Helpful for container gardening and spot watering thirsty plants on hot days. Protect delicate transplants with an attachment that regulates the flow of water.
  • Wheelbarrow: Particularly useful to transport soil, mulch, plants and larger quantities of heavy items around the yard.
  • Garden Trug: Great for hauling weeds and debris to the compost bin. Easily carries transplants and smaller quantities of soil, mulch or plants. The bright colors add cheer to your work.
  • Garden Gloves: Protect hands from thorns and blisters. Keep dirt from under your fingernails. Nitrile gloves are a popular choice for flexibility. Rose gardeners use long-sleeved gloves to prevent injury from pruning rose canes.

When selecting tools, invest in high quality products. Maintain your tools to remove rust and improve sharpness and they can last a lifetime. The start of the gardening season is a wonderful time to check your tools and repair any damage. Follow this link for tips on tool maintenance.

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