Only Five Essential Garden Tools

By: Justin Havre

There is an old proverb that 'a bad workman always blames his tools' but (at the risk of using that as an excuse) trying to garden without the proper tools is tiresome! It is back breaking, it does take more time and it can even damage the roots of plants. However, this does not mean that we have to spend hundreds of dollars on buying the latest in garden tools. How many tools are really necessary for an average gardener who just wants to have a neat garden and grow a few flowers or veggies?

The first garden tool that comes to mind (apart from gardening gloves) is a garden fork; this is because without a fork, you will never get the soil 'turned'. Trying to get out there in the still-cool month of March to turn the garden over requires a good strong garden fork. Once the earth has been broken up by the weather (which is usually about now, in May), it can be raked smooth.

Some people do without a garden rake, but I think that if you are planning to grow plants from seed, you should rake the soil first. However, it's technically an optional garden tool. Not so a trowel; that is a necessity. Trowels are used for planting bulbs, perennials and for pushing plants in to your containers. If you want to dig deep then you can buy extra strong trowels in stainless steel, but light weight ones can be found that are manufactured from cast aluminum.

A garden hose is quite essential, although you can manage without one. If you have water-collecting barrels in your garden, the hose may be superfluous. If you are going to invest in a hose, then go for a soaker hose. These will deliver water to the root of your plant so that you are not wasting it.

A wheelbarrow is a nice optional extra; however, you can use large plastic garbage bags and slide them around the garden after you - so it's not absolutely essential to have a wheelbarrow! If you need to choose one and the weight of it is a factor, then there is such a thing as a wheelbarrow made of canvas that folds up. It's also space-saving as it can hang on the garage wall.

If you have a lawn and flower beds, you will notice that it is quite amazing how much difference it makes to use an edger around the edge. This small chore, which keeps the border lines straight, goes a long way in keeping definition and neatness in the garden.

A long, narrow spade is one implement that always seems handy, as you can plant the bigger bushes with it, but if you need to really economize, you can use your garden fork. If you have never had a garden hoe, now is too late; they are difficult creatures to learn to maneuver. Sometimes it is just quicker to get down there and use your trowel.

There are several other possibilities: a prune, a watering can and a weeding bag. But if you leave these and the 'optional extras' out, that gives us only five essential tools. These are a garden fork, a rake, a soaker hose, a trowel and an edger.

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