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Guide to Garden and Landscaping Tools

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A descriptive guide to most of the tools used for gardening and landscaping.

If you are a new homeowner, or planning on tackling some of your own gardening and yard work, you should know what tools are used for certain jobs. Not only will this make life easier for you, it will save you time and money in the long run while making your yard and garden look more attractive.

Each garden tool is designed to perform a specific job and using the wrong tool not only takes longer, but the work is more difficult, and injuries can occur.

Hopefully this guide will help you select the garden tools that you need for your yard and explain their function. I have left off lawn mowers and focused on more specialized hand tools and a few power tools that you may not be familiar with.

Weeders

A weeder is a tool that is used to pull up pesky weeds from a garden or lawn. These tools are designed to get the weeds and their roots out easier than by hand. There are several variations of weeders available.

Fulcrum weeder–A fulcrum weeder has a forked tip and long shaft that can be found in short and long-handled models, this weeder is best suited for digging out weeds with fibrous root systems.

Cape Cod weeder–A Cape Cod weeder is used to remove weeds in tight cracks or in the seams of pavement. It has a pointed flat head, similar to a hoe.

Drill weeders–This type of weeder is attached to a cordless drill and work well on tall or spreading weeds. As the drill spins the weeder rips the weeds and the root system up from the ground. Most drill weeders have a long shaft so that they can be used while standing.

Foot lever weeder–This tool has two prongs that are pushed into the soil directly over the weed. A foot lever is then pushed that causes the prongs to pinch the weed’s root system so that the entire weed and roots are pulled out when the handle is turned. This tool is effective but it works best on weeds that have shallow roots within three to four inches below the surface.

 

Rakes

Leaf rake–A leaf rake is the most common garden tool and is what most people picture when they think of a rake. These have large, triangular heads that feature numerous flexible teeth. These are used for removing yard debris such as grass clippings, leaves, and small sticks.

Hand rake–A hand rake is a small, hand-held rake that’s used to clear the soil in a tight or confined area like a flowerbed.

Thatch rake–A thatch rake is specially designed to remove dried and dead grass from your lawn. It is a long-handled tool that features a dual-sided head with long teeth on one side and a crimped edge on the other. Thatching attachments can be placed on lawn mowers as hand thatching is very tiring.

Bow rake–A bow rake has a long handle and straight metal teeth. It is used to break up garden soil and make planting rows. Heavier one-piece rakes are the most durable, but they can be difficult to use for long periods. Less expensive bow rakes tend to break easily, especially in soil with larger stones or heavy clay. If you can find a steel asphalt rake, get it and it will last forever.

Bow Rake

Asphalt Rake

Lake Rake – A lake rake is designed to skim algae and debris from the top of a lake or pond. It is not a common yard tool since it is only for cleaning water features.

Cultivators– There several designs of cultivators and they can be short-handled tools or long-handled tools. They may be similar to a hand rake or have spinning heads that cut up weeds and loosen soil. A cultivator’s primary purpose is to loosen and aerate soil and remove very small weeds. These tools will also aerate the soil and remove minor weeds while tilling the ground. Cultivators can also be attached to riding lawnmowers or tractors.

Pruners

This tool has two curved blades that cut away dead branches.

Bypass pruners–This is the widely used hand-held pruner. It uses two curved blades for cutting away small branches, usually ¾ inch or less. Pruners work best on live branches and are not the best tool for removing old dead branches.

Anvil pruners–An anvil pruner has a stationary hook that holds the branch and a movable blade that makes the cut. This pruner is designed for tougher, thicker branches and is also found on an extension rod and operated by pulling a rope. Many anvil pruners use a ratchet mechanism to close the blade little by little.

Loppers – A lopper is a long-handled variation of a bypass pruner. This tool is designed for pruning thicker branches that require a little more leverage to get through. Some loppers can cut through branches that are 2 inches in diameter, but most can handle branches of 1 ½ inch easily.

Hand Pruning Saw – A pruning saw is useful in removing old branches from small trees and shrubs that are over 2 inches thick. They also work better than pruners on dead wood.

Hedge Trimmers – Hedge trimmers can be gas, electric, battery, or manual. Hedge trimmers have only one purpose, to shape shrubs. There are newer designs that are connected to a vacuum to suck in the clippings. The manual hedge shears have two long blades that cut like scissors.

Hedge Trimmer with Vacuum

Cordless Trimmer

Hedge Shears

Edgers, Tillers, and Trimmers

Edger - Most edgers are powered by gas, electricity or a battery that is designed to cut grass along a border, like a sidewalk, flowerbed or driveway. This tool creates a clean look to your garden beds and landscaping. Most variations feature an adjustable single spinning blade and a guiding wheel. The manual version of the edger can also be used and can be in the form of a curved cutting blade similar to a spade or a wheeled type with a stationary cutting head.

Hand Edger

Wheeled Edger

Gas Edger

Tillers – A tiller is a motor-driven garden tool that rotates and churns up the soil in preparation for planting. Similar to a cultivator, a tiller is more powerful and used for smaller garden areas.

Mini tillers–Mini tillers are gas-powered machines that do not have wheels but has two spinning tines that keep the machine upright and use the weight of the tiller to cultivate the soil. Mini tillers are best suited for small gardening tasks instead of digging a garden by hand.

Mid-line tillers–A mid-line tiller has a guide wheel in the front and, in some cases, wheels in the back, with the spinning tines located in the middle of the machine. This tiller provides a little more power than the mini tiller variation.

Rear-line tillers–A rear-line tiller is a heavy-duty tiller with a longer set of spinning tines located on its back side. This tiller features a larger engine and thick-treaded tires at the front of the machine.

Trimmers–A trimmer is usually referred to as a “weed whacker.” Available in gas, battery and electric models, a trimmer features a spinning nylon line that slices through weeds and grass. This tool is designed to cut areas where a lawnmower can't reach or trim along fences and trees. Some people use the trimmer perpendicular to the ground and use it as an edger as well.

Shovels

A shovel is a long-handled tool used for lifting soil, rocks, sand, snow and other loose materials.

Scoop shovels–Scoop shovels, also called coal shovels, are flat shovels typically used to move bulky material like coal, stones, gravel, manure, and mulch. The flat head is designed to slide under the material rather than cutting into it.

Garden shovel–The garden shovel is the basic digging shovel used for digging holes or turning over garden soil. Purchase a high quality garden shovel with a strong handle, preferably metal or fiberglass.

Snow shovel– A snow shovel is a large, flat scoop-shaped shovel with a thin or sharp edge designed for snow removal. Newer models feature a bent handle that is supposed to reduce back strain.

Spade– A spade a type of digging shovel that has a short handle with a hand loop and features a thinner, flat digging head. Spades are used for digging, loosening clumps of soil and for edging around a garden.

Digging Fork – A digging fork is one of the more versatile garden tools you can own. It can turn over cultivated soil and some stronger models can turn over compacted soil. It is very useful in harvesting root crops such as carrots, peanuts, and potatoes. It can also be used to spread mulch, turn over compost heaps, and remove yard waste.

Pickaxe – A pickaxe is a specialized tool that is used to remove large stones and rocks from garden soil, or to help remove roots of small trees and shrubs.

All of these garden tools can be found at home and garden centers, hardware stores, and online. I hope this information will help you choose the right tool for your next gardening job.

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Daniel Snyder

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