While power tools are convenient for larger jobs, the everyday tasks associated with gardening are generally done with hand tools. Hand garden tools are tools that do not have any source of power other than the gardener's own strength and agility. The most-used tools in a garden, hand tools are essential to planting and maintaining a garden properly. Which tools you choose will depend on frequency of use, the tasks performed and the difficulty of the task. Choosing the proper hand tool for the job can make the difference between success and failure in your gardening endeavors.
Digging tools are the backbone of the gardener's hand tool arsenal. Shovels, picks, trowels and forks are used in every stage of gardening, from preparing the bed to weeding. There are several types of each tool. For example shovels can be round point, square point, trenchers or spades. Each type can be lightweight or heavyweight and is designed for a specific purpose. A lightweight spade is useful for digging in sand, but not as useful as a pick or mattock for digging in clay. When buying digging tools, you must first identify precisely what task you need to do and what weight or size and strength of tool will be appropriate.
Cutting tools include shears and saws. Shears can be small hand-held clippers, long-bladed hedge trimmers or long-handled lopping shears. Saws can range from several inches to several feet and larger saws may require more than one person for use. Saws and shears may be attached to poles or extended handles to allow for cutting higher limbs and branches. Pole saws can have strings or chains that allow the user to move the saw blade from below. Shears and saws come in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate different tasks. For example, hand shears can be heavy duty for cutting branches on bushes or delicate scissorlike shears for trimming miniature plants or flowers. To determine the proper cutting tools, you must identify the task and the difficulty. For example, large loppers may damage a small shrub, where small scissor shears would not do the job.
Raking and Cultivating Tools
Raking and cultivating tools are used primarily for garden cleaning and maintenance. These tools include leaf rakes, garden rakes and several types of hoes and pronged cultivators. Each type comes in different sizes, shapes and materials. For example, leaf rakes can be metal or plastic and can range in width from a few inches for close spaces to wide enough to make short work of an entire yard. Special versions, such as adjustable-head rakes, are also available.
Specialty tools include items such as pitchforks, pickers, weeders and edgers. These tools are designed for specific tasks that are done on a regular basis, but cannot be easily performed with other tools.