Garden tools have been around since mankind made the transition from hunter-gatherers into farmers. Early tools for gardening consisted of pointed sticks. Over time, tools evolved into custom-made items that gardeners specially commissioned from a blacksmith. Today, tools are mass-produced and sold inexpensively through hardware and big-box discount stores. These basic garden tools have the same basic design as early gardening tools.
The hoe consists of a flat blade that is attached to a pole at a 90-degree angle. This construction allows a gardener to scrape, push and dig in the soil for planting or weeding. According to Grit magazine, early hoes that have been uncovered in the Fertile Crescent were made of chipped stone tied to long sticks. These early tools could mean the difference between starvation and having plenty to eat. Hoes save a gardener tremendous effort and time by helping the gardener avoid the need to bend, stoop over or kneel.
A garden rake is designed similarly to a hoe in that it is a tool set crosswise onto a long handle. But where a hoe possesses a flat blade, a rake is composed of many comblike teeth. A rake is a useful garden implement to break up soil clods, gather loose material such as soil or mulch into piles, pull weeds and scratch furrows into the ground. A rake may also be turned over so that gardeners can use the flat side to push soil.
A shovel resembles a large spoon. This should come as no surprise because the two implements do the same type of work. Shovels dig into soil and lift it to move dirt and create holes in the ground suitable for planting or burying things. Garden shovels may be used to dig up roots, transplant seedlings or set supports such as garden stakes or trellises for plants. Garden shovels of varying sizes may be used for a variety of purposes. A shovel with a flat blade, which is known as a spade, is useful for making vertical cuts into soil to loosen it. A hand-sized shovel, which is known as a trowel, is handy for small digging projects such as setting transplants.