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  • Zahra Ali

Do you have the right tools for gardening?


Zahra Ali

The life of a gardener becomes easier if she has the right tools to work with. If you select your tools carefully and look after them, they will last a lifetime.

When we enter a garden store, we are usually overwhelmed by the endless selection of dazzling tools that we sometimes end up buying because the advertisement seems so convincing. What if I tell you that second hand or used tools are sometimes better than the new sparkling ones? For instance, bright new forks and spades are good but the ones with blades and prongs honed by soil are perfect! Be aware of buying tools that you do not need. Here is my list of essential tools for working with soil.

Tools for digging


One of the most essential tools for working with the soil is definitely a spade. Sooner or later we all need to dig a hole in to the ground or to mix soil. This very handy tool may become difficult to use if you do not have the right size. Spades come in three sizes.

· Standard digging spade: 11.5 *7.5 inch

· Medium Spade: 10 *6.5

· Border Spade: 9 * 5.5 inch

Select the one that is most comfortable to use. The shaft should be smooth and without any splinters. The handles are on different shapes as well. T, D or YD shape may be available. You can select the one that seems easier to hold.


Fork is better tool for digging than spade when it comes to heavy or stony soils. It is also used to move compost or manure. Fork also comes in different sizes and dimensions are almost same as of spade.

The potato fork has flattened prongs to avoid damage to the young potatoes. Pick a one that is comfortable to work with and is reasonably priced.

Tools for Levelling & Cleaning


Be it levelling the soil or cleaning up dry leaves in a garden, a rake is very useful. Do not use it like a fork and work on hard soils with it. If you want to break soil, then use the back side of the rake.

Make sure the handle is smooth and sprinter-free if it is wooden. The ones made of plastic are light and generally easier to use but less likely to bring stones to the surface.


If you like a weed-free garden, then the only tool that you will enjoy working with is a Dutch-Hoe. It feels so satisfying to watch a hoe smooth out earth between the rows of a vegetable patch. Use it every week or regularly. The trick is to hold it at an angle which makes it dig deeply.

Tools for Cutting and Pruning


From pruning young branches to cutting flowers, a good pair of secateurs will help you for a long time. It is worth investing in good secateurs if your garden needs it. If the stems or branches are thicker than your fingers then do not use these to cut them instead use the secateurs with large handle and tougher blades called loppers.


Shears come in handy for doing many tasks in a garden whether it is for cutting a hedge, shaping up a plant or slicing up tufts of grass. Buy the one that is most comfortable to grip and use. Rub the blades with sandpaper after use. This will keep it clean.

Care for your tools

Tools that are taken care of last a lifetime. Try to get in to the habit of cleaning up the mud or sand by scraping it off after use. Rub oil on the metal parts of each tool. The hoe and the edges of the spade can be sharpened up occasionally to help them perform well. Store tools in a dry place where rust will not cause problems. If you invest in buying the best quality tools once, you can keep using them for a very long time by taking care of your tools.

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