Essential and Basic Tools for Lawn Gardening

A car parked in the grass

It’s easy to go overboard when purchasing landscaping tools. They can take up a lot space and cost a lot of money, but staying focused on the basics can keep your shed or storage area from becoming overcrowded. There’s always bigger and better, but buying the best quality tools that your budget will allow, and maintaining them, can go a long way in getting the most out of your investment.

1. Gloves

A close up of a flower garden

While gardening can be a wonderful hobby, it can quickly turn into a thorny and splintery hassle without the right pair of gloves.

  • Gloves should be durable but not too bulky, especially for working with seeds or transplanting seedlings.
  • Fit is important, as poorly fitting gloves can cause blisters or result in accidents from slipping off.
  • Fabrics that are water resistant, but also breathable, will help keep hands cool and comfortable.
  • Longer cuffs protect wrists and forearms from scratches and keep soil from getting in.
  • Store gloves out of sunlight, away from water and safe from insects.

2. Pruning Shears

Hand pruners, also called secateurs, help reign in plants that are getting out of control and taking over. Anvil-style pruners cut with a sharp blade meeting a flat surface, similar to a knife on a board. Bypass pruners cut with a sharp blade passing by a sharp-edged flat surface, more like scissors.

  • Anvil pruners are best for dead wood and can cause crush injuries to fresh, green stems and branches.
  • Bypass pruners are better for live plants and green wood.
  • Pruners should fit easily in the palm of your hand.
  • Ratcheting pruners provide increased cutting strength, perfect for anyone with reduced hand strength or arthritis.
  • For cleaner cuts and less injury to plants, pruners should be sharpened regularly. 

3. Loppers

A house on top of a lush green field

Another cutting tool, loppers are basically long-handled pruners used to trim hard to reach areas and cut thicker branches. The long handles provide the leverage it takes to cut through branches up to an inch or more in diameter. There are anvil and bypass types, just like pruners. Handles generally range from 16 to 36 inches.

  • Bypass loppers are more precise in cut location than anvil style.
  • Longer handled loppers can be heavy. Know what you’ll be cutting and how far you’ll need to reach and get the appropriate length.
  • Lightweight aluminum or carbon-composite handles can be lighter.
  • Like pruners, keep lopper blades in good condition and sharpen regularly.

4. Garden Fork

An efficient tool for turning soil, garden forks can dig into dense soil better than a spade.

  • Forks with a slight curve to the spines are useful for scooping mulch or turning compost piles, much like a pitchfork.
  • Straight tines are better for digging; great for compacted, rocky, or clay soil.
  • Square tines are stronger than flat tines which can bend when they hit a rock or root.

5. Hand Trowel

The essential hand tool, trowels are wonderful for transplanting bedding plants and herbs, planting containers, and taking out weeds.

  • Select a broad blade to move more soil or a long, narrow blade to dig up weeds or for rocky soil.
  • The handle should fit comfortably in your hand.
  • Trowels forged from stainless steel, or at least with a stainless steel head, are more durable and will last longer.

6. Spade

These short-handled square shovels are garden workhorses. They make easy work of digging holes for plants, edging, lifting sod, and moving small mounds of dirt from one area to another. This tool can be more on the pricey side, but a good spade will last you the rest of your gardening life.

  • Treads on top of the blade give a sturdier and more comfortable foot surface when needing an extra push.
  • Ash hardwood handles are durable and absorb shock and vibration.
  • Generally available with long or short handles. Longer handles provide more leverage, but are heavier.
  • Stainless steel heads are strong and won’t rust.

These are the basic tools required for lawn gardening.

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