10 Essential Tools for Every Gardener

Getting your yard ready for spring? The right equipment can mean the difference between a beautiful garden and a barren wasteland.

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  1. Get into Gear

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    The first flush of a forsythia’s color has you ready to hit the home center and jump headfirst into yard work. Though it may be tempting, buying newfangled equipment isn't necessary—you can skip the motorized wheelbarrow! To whip your landscape into shape, these are the essential outdoor tools to keep at hand. 


  2. Shovel

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    Digging is hard enough. Spend a little more on a shovel that can make the job easier. This one has a steel plate, not an open gap, behind the scoop; that means enough dirt can't gather to slow you down. Only remember to keep the ash handle oiled in the off-season and every so often, sharpen the 14-gauge scoop’s edge.


  3. Shovel Gloves

    Bobvila shovel gloves

    Get in touch with the earth—literally—the next time you garden with the Bob Vila Shovel Gloves. The claw-like fingers of the gloves make it easy to dig, rake, and plant flowers without your hands getting caked in dirt. The stretchable fabric provides breathability, but is also able to keep debris out. And its textured, waterproof latex coating provides a comfortable, no-slip grip in a size that fits most hands.


  4. Pruner

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    Left to their own devices, shrubs and small trees would grow into messy tangles. Pruning not only controls shape but promotes new growth. A bypass pruner is the best tool to cut green, or living, wood. Its two sharp blades pass each other like a scissor, leaving a clean, tear-free cut that heals quickly.

  5. Wheelbarrow

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    Unloading soil, mulch, or compost is easier when you can easily maneuver the wheelbarrow. From first tip to final dump, the D-shaped handle on this one keeps your hands in control. Opt for a rust-resistant poly resin tub instead of one that's painted steel and if you're likely to tackle heavier-duty projects, avoid wheelbarrows with folding designs.


  6. Leaf Rake

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    The two-foot-wide head on this rake is the right size to gather a small pile of leaves or spread out compost without exhausting yourself. The design deters clogging—11 teeth leave little space in between for leaves to gather—but when you’re dealing with dry leaves, no rake is truly clog-free.


  7. Cordless String Trimmer

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    No other battery-powered lawn and garden tool makes more sense than the string trimmer. The minimal amount of torque required to trim a 10-inch wide swath of grass means the battery will edge your entire yard (and more) on one charge. Buy one that has a battery pack that fits other cordless tools, such as a hedge trimmer and blower.


  8. Backpack Blower

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    A backpack blower isn't only in the domain of professional landscapers. If you have more than a pair of mature leaf-droppers on your property, a handheld leaf blower will tire your wrist out in no time. Putting the power on your back means you can work comfortably for an hour or so.


  9. Garden Trowel

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    Working far from the shed is not when you want to realize that you're without a knife to cut string or a saw to cut thick branches. This trowel packs in those uses plus an additional six—it’s a Swiss Army Knife for your yard.


  10. Garden Hose

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    Few things frustrate more than a cheap hose that kinks and sprouts a leak. Pay a bit extra for a quality one and when you’re shopping, put the hose out and give it a bend; if it kinks, move on. The couplings should be heavy-duty brass, enough to withstand a heavy stomping.

  11. Quick Connectors

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    Threading a hose on and off the spigot is a knuckle-buster. This connector converts any male-to-female parts into a click-and-go system—no more threading. At the store, you’ll see plastic ones next to the brass ones; skip the former and get brass for each of your hose-end sprayers. Your hands will thank you.


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