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Garden Gadgets: Shopping List for Beginners

by Nellie Neal

Which tools do you really need, and which ones last a lifetime? Take a look at your collection and use our tips to fill in the gaps.

Trowels are little shovels used by hand for digging transplant holes and moving small plants. Look first for a trowel about one foot long with a medium sized scoop. If the shaft and scoop are cast in one piece, rather than attached at a seam, the tool will last longer. And the one-foot length does double duty as a handy measuring tool when planting. Mark your favorite planting spaces (four inches or six) along the handle of the cultivator and shovels, too.

When choosing standard size shovels, consider two. You need a classic shovel for moving soil. But look also for a sharpshooter, the narrow-bladed shovel on a short handle for easier planting in most situations. You can get lower to the ground for better leverage, and dig a deeper hole with less work.

Hand cultivators look like small garden rakes, handles with stiff metal tines for scratching soil. Check the tines on cultivators and their larger cousins, garden rakes, to be sure they are not brittle and are attached securely to their handle.

The other rake you’ll want is a leaf rake, but metal tines aren’t necessarily preferred since wider, nearly scoop-shaped bamboo and plastic heads can make the job go faster.

Hand pruners are essential for light pruning, deadheading, and even cutting flowers with stiff stems like roses. In most cases, pruners are a lifelong companion, so shop for blades that can be sharpened and models with replacement parts available in your area. Also, everyone will find a use for a serrated-blade, folding saw. Popular models can cut branches up to one-inch in diameter; choose a heavier grip and blade for long life.

Add gloves, a watering can, a pump-up sprayer, some jute twine, scissors, labels, and a permanent marker and you’re on your way to a complete garden shed with a tool handy for every chore.



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