People new to gardening often ask what tools are needed to maintain their gardens. It's easy to become overwhelmed by the scope and variety of multifunctional garden tools available in stores, online, and in garden catalogues. Even seasoned gardeners may wonder which tools are really necessary to help make their garden tasks easier and their gardens more productive. Since there are as many types of gardens as there are gardeners, there is no magic list of essential garden tools. But all gardeners need quality tools that will perform well for many years.
When maintaining the landscape around your home, there are several tools that will make the job easier and more enjoyable. If there is an area of lawn, a mower is needed to keep the grass trimmed. The type of mower will depend on preference and the size of the lawn area. Gas mowers can accommodate any size of lawn or a need for weed mowing and allow more freedom. Older electric mowers were tethered to an electric socket. The new lithium battery-powered electric mowers run for over an hour and work well on medium-size lawns typical on a quarter-acre urban lot. An electric mower is easy to use, starts every time, and does not require running to a gas station to fill the gas can (or the storage of gas between uses). A push mower is a wonderful tool for exercise, and a great choice for a small lawn. With a push mower the person doing the mowing is getting a cardio workout while maintaining the lawn.
Deciduous trees and shrubs dictate the need for a leaf rake. The flexible metal or plastic bristles of a leaf rake allow the removal of debris like leaves and twigs without overly disturbing the soil. Leaf rakes have a large, fan-like head of tines and come in a variety of head sizes with long or short handles. Adjustable leaf rakes with telescopic handles that can be lengthened and shortened are a useful option for those with little storage space.
A digging shovel is a staple for garden maintenance. The curved blade shovel is used for many heavy-duty jobs such as digging holes for planting trees and shrubs, turning over compacted soil in beds, and moving soil and organic compost from one area to another. They can be used to dig trenches, cut sod, and create sharp edges to outline a planting area. A curved blade digging shovel is truly the garden workhorse.
Hand pruners and loppers are needed for tree and shrub maintenance. There are two main types of pruners: those with bypass blades and those with anvil blades. These perform different garden jobs. A bypass pruner cuts like a pair of scissors: a larger sharper blade slips by a smaller blade to make a clean cut in living branches. Anvil pruners work like a knife on a chopping board: they have a single sharpened cutting blade that strikes down on the flat anvil blade below. Because anvils crush soft plant tissue, they are a better choice for pruning out dead wood, while bypass pruners work well on live tissue. Bypass pruners generally have much broader utility than anvil pruners. Loppers are tools with longer handles that offer more leverage and larger blades than hand pruners; use automatic chainsaw to make cuts in any branch larger around than your finger. Loppers come in both bypass and anvil styles and work the same way as hand pruners.
A good-quality leaf rake, digging shovel, hand pruner, or lopper would be a thoughtful housewarming gift for someone new to gardening.