Tools for a beginner gardener

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Begin creating a beautiful garden with these essential tools
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What supplies do you need to start a garden?

There are a few basic tools every gardener needs—experienced or just a beginner. If you've never gardened before, don't rush to your nearest garden shop or Web site to buy a lot of things you may never use! Until you learn more about gardening, just get the basic gardening tools—and don't feel that you have to pay to get the very best of everything; you can always upgrade.

If you plan to tackle a big area, the first step in creating a new garden is tilling the soil. You may want to hire a handyman for this job; if you'd rather make your beginning garden a do-it-yourself project from start to finish, you can usually find roto-tillers for rent at many garden supply stores. Depending on the type of soil, this could be a hard job, so think seriously about tackling it yourself—particularly if you've never used a tiller before.

Basic Tools for a Beginner Gardener

Garden gloves. A good pair of garden gloves is a great item to have for gardeners. While it's fun to dig in the soil with bare hands, garden gloves are great for those who do not want to dirty their hands, or do a tough job such as pruning a rose bush or other thorn-bearing plant. Garden gloves help protect your hands from the harsh conditions that gardeners can sometimes experience.

Garden kneelers. Don't overlook the stress that digging, weeding and even harvesting can place on your knees. Garden kneelers can be as simple as a piece of Styrofoam. Kneeling mats are also sold especially for gardening, or you may choose to invest in gardening pants that have built-in knee protectors.

Long or short-handle round point hovel. If you have only one shovel in your garden tool shed, make it a round point shovel. Many people find that the short handle gives them better balance. Try both lengths out first. This type of shovel digs holes, moves soil, lifts plants and serves as a level and hammer in a pinch. Although you won't use shovels or spades everyday, once you have them you'll find they are indispensable.

Garden rake. Unlike your leaf rake, the garden rake is a sturdy rake, usually with short, strong steel teeth. You can find width-adjustable rakes, which are ideal for keeping flower beds free of debris or for keeping soil between rows loose and weed-free. You'll first use your garden rake to smooth and level your newly tilled garden.

Garden hoe. It's much easier to hoe a row in your garden while standing than going from plant to plant on your knees. In addition, a garden hoe can be used to outline rows for transplants and make rows for seeding your beginner garden.

Hand trowel. A hand trowel can take the shape of a short-handled garden hoe or a garden cultivator with several long prongs. Hand trowels are especially useful for getting in close to weed and aerate delicate cultivars without damaging the plants.

Gardening shears and pruners. As well as trimming plants to keep them looking good, gardening shears are handy for removing damaged areas of plants to keep them healthy. Flower gardeners should keep a pair of gardening shears nearby for cutting fresh bouquets to bring indoors. You'll also use your garden shears to cut back your hardy perennials at the end of the growing season.

Garden hose. The hose is essential for beginner gardening to water individual plants after planting and wash loose soil from sidewalks, driveways and paved garden paths. In addition, you'll use it to hose off other garden tools, including your most important garden tools – your hands. In the summer, you may want to attach a sprinkler and other watering tools to your garden hose to irrigate your garden or to provide an afternoon's entertainment under the hot summer sun.

Notes About Tools for a Beginner Gardener

Things to remember when purchasing garden tools: Steel blades will last longest. Handle choice is a matter of personal preference. Soft rubber handles are easier on the grip. There are also ergonomic designs that take the stress off of your wrist. A narrow blade is good for digging in solid soil. Wide, rounded blades remove soil faster. Also, you will probably wind up with a couple of different sized trowels in your tool shed.

A good garden plan combined with an assortment of basic garden tools takes the work out of gardening and makes it into an enjoyable and satisfying pastime. Working with the elements, plotting a garden with a good plan, and acquiring a few basic gardening tools solves the mystery of gardening and puts you on the trail to a successful beginner garden.

Always clean your gardening tools after use.

  • Use a steel brush to clean off tools after each use.
  • Keep handles from drying by rubbing with linseed oil.
  • Sharpen your tools before storing for the winter. Protect with a coat of oil, wax or petroleum jelly.
Happy planting!

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