Professional landscapers use a combination of hand and power tools to create and care for outdoor spaces. Landscaping tools and equipment include implements for digging, weeding, trimming and cleanup. Whether you're getting started as a landscape maintenance professional or simply gathering a set of tools for personal use, become familiar with the tools of the landscaping trade and choose the right ones for your project.
Round- and flat-nose shovels serve a variety of purposes, from digging through soil to transporting debris into bags or cans. Landscapers prefer the round-nose shovel for digging because its curved edge easily plunges into the soil. The broad, straight edge of a flat-nose shovel makes it ideal for scooping large portions of debris from the ground. Landscapers also use shovels to dig holes for planting and transplanting and to excavate trenches for irrigation installation and repair.
The traditional garden hoe performs both soil cultivation and weeding. The average hoe has a straight handle, typically 4 to 5 feet long. The hoe's flat, sharp-edged blade attaches to the end of the handle and protrudes perpendicularly. To use a hoe, a landscaper plunges the blade into the ground and pulls toward his body. Landscapers also employ the pulling action of a hoe to loosen soil, remove weeds and combine fertilizers or mulch with soil.
There are two basic types of garden rakes: bow rakes and leaf rakes. The distinguishing characteristic of these types of rakes is the rigidity of their tines. Whereas the bow rake has fixed, rigid tines, the leaf rake has thin, flexible tines. The bow rake's tines stick straight out from its broad, straight head. The leaf rake's tines fan outward to create a sweeping curved head. Landscapers use bow rakes to pull heavy loads and large portions of dirt. They use leaf rakes to pull light debris, such as leaves and soft plant matter.
The modern mower uses gas or electricity to power the rapid spinning of sharpened blades. The mower's blades hang from the machine's body, suspended 1 inch to a few inches above ground level. Attached to wheels, the landscaper pushes or rides atop the mower's body as its blades shear through plant material in its path. Commonly referred to as a "lawn mower," this machine in fact cuts any soft ground cover.
The blower employs a powerful gust of air to perform the same duties as the leaf rake: gathering waste into piles. The blower uses electricity or gas to power its motor. Air exits the tool through a long hose or tubular snout. A landscaper points the hose at scattered leaves and blows them into a consolidated pile.
The string trimmer spins a thick, plastic string to whack and cut through tough weeds and ground cover. The trimmer's spinning string assembly attaches to the end of a pole. A landscaper holds the top of the pole and places the hood-covered string assembly at ground level. The pull of a trigger causes this electric or gas-powered machine to rapidly spin its string and slice through vegetation.