11 garden tools I can’t live without

Spring is finally starting to show her head in my neck of the woods.  I have gone through the seed catalogs, looking through my gardening books, dreaming big and making plans.  You know, basically driving my husband up the wall.  This year we are moving my raised bed out to the Farm (aka my Dad’s house) and I am going to plant up his along with my own.  I am going to focus more on curb appeal at our house than having a huge garden. 

I have worked for landscaping companies and greenhouses over the years and I have used my share gardening equipment.  There are lots of tools to choose from but these are the ones that I have found the most versatile.
 
When I worked in landscaping I pruned, a lot.  You will need a good quality hand pruner and a holster.  I use a Felco bypass pruner and an old pliers holster with a metal belt clip.  Keep your pruner sharp and well oiled and it will last you a long time.   The holster really comes in handy when you are out in the yard and see a low hanging branch or water-spout you want to grab, your pruners are right there at your side. 
 
Another handy pocket tool is a folding saw.  This is another tool I picked up from my landscaping days.  With a bit of elbow grease and the correct pruning know how, you can go through a fairly large branch.  Don’t expect to cut down a tree, but you can get most small tree pruning done without having to get a chainsaw or hire a professional.
 
You cannot garden too long without a spade or trowel. Invest in good quality tools, and if you take care of them they can last you for years.  There are many ideas floating around out there about the best way to take care of your tools, everything from stiff brushes to buckets of sand and oil.  I clean mine up after every use, taking a little more care at the end of the gardening season.  Keep the spade sharp, it will make your job easier.
 
On that note, invest in a file and oil.  You will need a larger one for your shovel or spade and a smaller one for your pruners, loppers or hedge trimmers. Check out the felco website for more info and directions on how to sharpen and oil your pruners.
 
There are more gardening gloves out there than I can count, and most of them are pretty much worthless.  Many are pretty and may keep your hands from getting dirty but that is pretty much it.  If you are that worried about getting dirt under your nails, gardening may not really be your thing.  I love these gloves from Atlas with the rubberized palms and fingers.  You are able to grab barberry clipping without sticking your hand.
 
There are two different kinds of rakes:  a leaf rake and a garden rake.  Leaf rakes are pretty self-explanatory but make sure you invest in one with a metal head that is actually bolted to the handle. After a couple of hours (or less) or raking the glue that holds some cheaper rakes to the handle will come off and never really stay on well again.    The same goes for garden rake (which is used to rake dirt, mulch, rock, sand, basically smoothing out any surface.  Invest in a heavy-duty one.
 
One of the cheapest and best clean up tools you can have is a tarp.  The same blue (or green) tarp you can get at the hardware store for a couple of bucks.  You just unfold the tarp (or fold it in half or fourths if you job is smaller) and drag it along behind you as you do yard clean up dumping branches, leaves, etc as you go.

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