10 Tools Every DIY Gardener Should Own
I grew up with hand tools, not power tools. Of course those were the days of gasoline powered mowers and edgers, not weed eaters, or any other power tool for that matter. Never mind the thought of battery powered tools other than a flashlight. Gone are the good old days, and thank goodness. I enjoy my little lightweight rototiller, electric hedge trimmers, battery operated weed eater, and battery powered reciprocating saw. However, there are certain garden tools every DIY homeowner should have in their garage, shed, or tool box other than a lawn mower, weed eater, and blower.
- Hand pruners – A good sharp pair of hand pruners comes in very handy when doing yard work. I wear mine in a holster on my belt most of the time when working outside. There always seems to be a tree sprouting, a branch sticking out, or a sucker sprouting up in the flower beds. Maybe you need to repair a hose by cutting off an end and replacing a damaged connector. Hand pruners come in two types, the anvil blade and the scissor blade. I prefer the scissor blade because they cut closer to the end where the portion being removed is located. They also cut smoothly and are less likely to crush or tear the plant.
- A good, strong, leaf rake – This is one tool I have to replace every couple of years because I wear them out. I like the metal adjustable type with a telescoping handle so you can get under and between shrubs, along metal edging, and rake leaves in the yard, not to mention getting debris out of gravel and smoothing out flower beds after tilling and planting.
3. A drain spade – You may not be familiar with a drain spade. It is a long bladed, narrow shovel that is, in my opinion the best tool for removing/transplanting trees and shrubs in a yard. I highly recommend paying a little extra and getting a fiberglass handled one. I have broken several wooden handled spades but never a fiberglass handled one.
4. A squared off, straight edged shovel – Unlike the drain spade, a good squared off straight edged shovel belongs in every tool collection for moving dirt and debris from one location to another. You can pick up everything from dirt, gravel, and leaves, to trash and pet presents easily, and move them or dispose of them quickly and easily around the yard.
5. A wheelbarrow – There are many types of wheelbarrows with one or two wheels, made from metal or plastic, light or heavy duty, that are available almost anywhere yard tools are sold. I have owned heavy duty metal with inflatable tires to light weigh plastic ones meant to only last a season. Each one has its place, but for this tool, I prefer a lightweight easy to maneuver one that I can get rid of without feeling guilty when it is no longer useful. I found one I really liked at Home Depot.
6. Hedge trimmers – (Manual vs. mechanical) To tell you the truth I use both. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. For the best looking hedges you actually need both. Electric or powered trimmers are great for lots of shrubs planted in rows where they are seen more in the background than at the front door or stepping out into the backyard by the patio. Ragged leaves chewed up by mechanical trimmers are less likely to be noticed under these circumstances. If you are looking for a neat, tidy, formal look, you can’t beat a good sharp pair of manual trimmers. If you are trimming a specimen shrub, I would always use manual trimmers for a neat even shape or a nice natural look.
7.Hoe or potato fork – I should probably list these two tools separately. They both are used for cultivating a bed, but the hoe cuts or chops weeds at the ground’s surface. The potato fork breaks the surface of the ground and helps aerate the soil allowing water to penetrate the surface easily. If I had to choose one over the other, I would definitely choose the potato fork, also called a cultivator.
8. Loppers – Loppers work like hand pruners but are intended for much larger branches, up to an inch in diameter. They are great for major pruning of shrubs and small ornamental trees.
9. Pruning saw – Pruning saws come in several shapes and sizes such as hand saws, bow saws, extension saws, and power saws with pruning blades and chainsaws. The type, size and number of saws needed depends on how many trees you have and their sizes, growth patterns and the size of the limbs that need pruning.
- Anything up to the size of a pencil can be pruned with hand pruners (see #1)
- Anything up to an inch in diameter use loppers ( See #8) or a pole saw (if it is located up high)
c. Anything over an inch up to three inches can be handled with a pruning bow saw. If out of reach, use an telescoping extension saw.
d. Anything over three inches really needs a power saw. Reciprocating saws with pruning blades or chain saws work well.*FOOTNOTE: Footnote
10. A good strong broom – No matter how good you are at blowing debris off hard surfaces, nothing beats a good broom for a neat clean look when finishing up a job.
In my experience, these tools should be part of any homeowners tool collection when dealing with the lawn and garden. These recommendations do not cover other gardening tools like trowels, hammers, dikes, drills, ladders, hoses, nozzles, watering cans or any other tools that may be useful around the house and yard. As a final note, since I can’t seem to keep my recommendations to ten, I need to mention the oscillating hoe also called a loop hoe, the garden spading fork and the garden rake. These three tools may not be essential, but they do make many jobs in the yard much easier.