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Essential Tools for Pruning and Digging

Allen, I’m just getting into gardening and want to stock my tool shed. What are the essential tools I should have?

Well, that’s a good question. As your garden grows and evolves you will find that you rely on some tools more than others but there are a few that are essential to every gardener.

You can’t go wrong with a good pair of hand pruners. Of all the pruning tools I use, the one I call on the most would have to be my trusty hand pruners. I use them to trim everything from perennials to the medium-sized stems of shrubs, like roses, azaleas and hydrangeas. If you keep them sharp and well-oiled, and they’ll last for years.

If I’m cutting something larger than the size of a pencil, I reach for my loppers. When choosing loppers keep in mind that the longer the handles, the more leverage you get and leverage is what you need to make larger cuts. I’ve found that will a good, sharp pair of loppers I can trim branches that are up to 3 inches in diameter.

And shears, which are designed to clip soft or young growth, are a good investment if you have hedges and broadleaf evergreens. I rely on my shears to trim everything from my holly hedges to boxwoods.

A pruning saw with raker teeth is good to have on hand to tackle the bigger jobs like tree branches.

It’s also important to remember to give your hands some protection with some well-made gloves. There are lots of options out there these days, many of which not only guard your hands against scratches but also prevent the aches associated with repetitive movement.

For container gardening, you’ll certainly need a trowel. Look for one that has a comfortable grip that fits your hand.

For those bigger digging jobs, such as creating a new flowerbed, you’ll need a good shovel. I like a shovel that has a generous ledge where you use your foot to push the blade into the ground. I know that if I’m out in the garden digging a lot of holes, the arch of my foot can ache if I don’t have this kind of support.

Now anther tip is to choose a shovel with a metal handle. So when you put your foot down on it and press it into the soil, you can really get your weight behind it and move some earth without worrying about the handle snapping in two.

There are many tools that you can choose from, so the best advice I have is to look at the environment where you will be working and think about what tools would benefit you the most and build out from that. In other words, let the needs of your garden be the guide.