Gardening Tool Buying Guide: Compare Gardening Tools

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Quick facts about gardening tools

  • There are a number of options to choose from, from hand tools like trowels and rakes to power tools like lawn mowers and whip shears.
  • The most important factors to consider when choosing gardening tools are the type of gardening you need to do and your budget.
  • Investing in quality equipment is worth it in the long run, so shop around for the best deals.

Types of gardening tools

Stroll through your local garden supply or hardware store and you will be greeted with a wide range of tools and accessories designed to help your garden grow. These can be roughly separated into two categories: hand tools and power tools. The type of gardening you need to do will determine which of the following are essential additions to your shed.

Essential hand tools

  • Trowel. A hand trowel will be one of the first items in your gardening toolbox. Whether you’re digging holes for planting in a garden bed or removing pesky weeds, trowels have many uses. There are also trowels available with a variety of different blades, including flat, pointed, and serrated, to suit a variety of different gardening tasks.
  • Spade. A flat-bladed spade is a versatile tool that can do many jobs in the garden, including everything from moving dirt and debris to digging holes and trimming edges.
  • Rake. Need to store leaves, twigs and other garden debris in piles? A rake allows you to do this without having to bend or squat.
  • Shears. Also called secateurs or secateurs, secateurs are used to cut and prune flowers, plants, shrubs, and trees. Find out more in our pruning shears buying guide.
  • Hose and watering can. A lightweight plastic watering can will make it easier to care for all the plants in your home. For those with larger gardens, a hose is also an important purchase. From traditional hoses to extendable hoses and even retractable models with their own wall box, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Useful hand tools

  • Shovel. While spades have sharp edges perfect for digging and cutting, shovels are designed to pick up material so it can be moved around your yard. They are taller and wider than spades and useful for tasks like picking up dirt or a pile of leaves in a wheelbarrow.
  • Hoe. A garden hoe is designed to remove weeds, break up the soil, and prepare a garden bed for planting.
  • Spade fork. A garden fork can be used to turn and loosen the soil, and is especially useful if the soil contains a lot of rocks or tree roots. There are also forks designed for specialized jobs like transferring manure, mulch or hay.
  • Pruning saw or garden shears. If you have hedges and shrubs in your garden that need to be trimmed, a sturdy pair of garden shears can keep things neat and tidy. But if you need to cut thicker branches, a pruning saw may be a better bet.
  • Pruners. Pruners are long-handled pruners designed to make it easier to cut branches in high or hard-to-reach areas. and can attack branches thicker than pruning shears.
  • Wheelbarrow. When you need to move a large amount of dirt, wood chips, gravel, or whatever, a wheelbarrow is essential. Look for a wheelbarrow that is durable, has a capacity to suit your needs and is easy to maneuver.

Power tools

  • Lawn mower. Your lawn will not take care of itself, so you will need to find a suitable lawn mower to keep your lawn under control. For more information, see our guides to gasoline lawn mowers and our electric and battery-powered lawn mowers.
  • Sniper. A whip snipper is used to trim the edges and keep your lawn under control. Take a look at our whip snipper buying guide to learn more.
  • Hedge trimmer. If you want to keep your hedge or garden bushes neat and tidy, a hedge trimmer can make the job much faster and easier. Electric, battery and gasoline models are available. You can find out how to compare your options in our hedge trimmer guide.
  • Leaf blower or blower vacuum. Get rid of leaves and other yard debris with a leaf blower or blower vacuum. Find out more in our blower vacuum buying guide.
  • Chain saw. If you need to fell trees or chop firewood, a chainsaw can be a good investment. Options include gas, battery and electric chainsaws, so choose one that’s designed to tackle the cutting jobs in your backyard.

How to compare gardening tools

The factors you will need to consider when choosing products will vary depending on the tools you purchase. However, there are a few general factors to consider in helping you find the best gardening tools for your needs.

Paying a little more for a tool doesn’t guarantee you’ll get quality equipment, so visit your nearest garden center or hardware store to check out some tools in person. Durability is key, so pay close attention to how a tool has been put together.

You will need to find answers to a few questions:

  • What materials were used for its construction?
  • Does the tool feel sturdy (but not too heavy) in your hands?
  • Is the handle securely attached to the tool?
  • Are there signs of damage or rust?
  • If you choose a cutting tool, is there any resistance when using the blades?

Additionally, if you are likely to need replacement parts for the tool you are purchasing, make sure they are readily available.

Also consider the following:

Price

Your budget will always play a big role in determining which gardening tools to buy. While finding value for money is always crucial, don’t prioritize price over the quality of the tools you buy. Paying a little more upfront can help you find high-quality, durable tools that will stand the test of time, saving you money in the long run.

Comfort and ease of use

Go to the store and spend some time physically handling any product you are considering purchasing. Is it light enough to be used for long periods of time? Does it have a comfortable grip to prevent slipping? Is the length of the handle suitable for your height?

guarantee

Does the manufacturer back up their gardening tools with a warranty? If so, how long does it last and what does it cover?

What gardening tools do you really need?

Instead of just going to your local hardware or garden store and buying one of everything, take some time to think about what tools you actually need. You will need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • How big is your garden?
  • What kind of work will you need to do in the garden? For example, will you regularly rake leaves, prune tall branches and rose bushes, or move a lot of soil?
  • How often will you be gardening? Is gardening a hobby or a passion for you, or just another chore around the house that cannot be overlooked?

Some items, such as a good pair of pruning shears, will be used fairly regularly and are an essential part of the kit. But there are other items you can do without, so think carefully about your needs before parting with your hard-earned cash.

Three things to consider

Keep the following factors in mind when stocking up on essential gardening tools:

  1. Gloves. The importance of a good pair of gardening gloves should never be underestimated. Whether you’re pulling up stubborn weeds, digging in the dirt, or doing a number of gardening tasks, a sturdy pair of gloves will keep your hands clean and in good repair. Look for a pair that offers great freedom of movement but will stand up to wear and tear.
  2. It’s all in the handle. When choosing hand held gardening equipment, many tools come with a long or short handle. Long handles give more weight and can prevent you from bending over, but they also require more force. Shorter handles can be helpful when working in tight spaces, but you’ll have to lean a lot to get the job done. Handles, handle width, and even the material used can all make a difference, so be sure to visit the store and try before you buy. Some manufacturers even offer handles with interchangeable tool heads, so you can find the perfect handle and then equip it with different accessories as you need.
  3. Cleaning and maintenance. Staying on top of simple maintenance tasks can help extend the life of your gardening equipment. From rinsing excavating tools after use to ensuring that the moving parts of your pruning shears are always well oiled, there is a lot you can do to extend the life of your equipment. Consult the manufacturer’s care instructions on any gardening equipment you purchase for information on how to keep it in the best possible condition.
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