Garden Tool Series – Wheelbarrows

There is always something that needs to be hauled to or from the garden and the right wheelbarrow makes the job easier.

The Barrow

You have many choices for the barrow (the part the holds the materials). Consider the quantity of material you want to move and then determine if a shallow barrow or a deep barrow meets the need.  Barrows can be wide and deep, v-shaped, flat on the back and rounded on the front or square.

Things to check when buying a wheelbarrow include depth of the barrow, cubic feet capacity, and how much weight will it safely handle.   If you are transporting 40-pound bags of mulch, soil, or compost, the weight capacity is important to you. You also want to know if the depth will handle the number of bags you want to move at one time without tipping the wheelbarrow over.  For bagged material, make sure the size of the barrow allows you to lay the bags flat in the bottom.

If you are transporting loose material like mulch or rocks/stones, then the cubic feet capacity will be something you want to check out. How many trips will it take to move the material?  The weight may also be a factor so you don’t tip the whole load over before you get it to your dumping point.

Wheels

A wheelbarrow with one wheel in front is good for moving light material like leaves, yard waste, loose mulch, or anything that isn’t too heavy. This type of wheelbarrow tends to tip very easily if packed with heavy loads, but it can be easier to move over rough ground.

The two-wheel wheelbarrow is more stable than the one-wheel and works well for heavier materials like bagged compost, soil, or mulch, and loose rocks or pavers. The two-wheel is less likely to tip over and gives you an all-around transport vehicle for most yard materials you may want to haul.

The four-wheel wheelbarrow can handle the really heavy jobs like hauling pavers, large stones, or concrete blocks. It is designed for stability and lessons the strain on shoulders and arms when transporting heavy loads.

Garden Tool Series – Gloves

Some people like to feel the dirt between their fingers when gardening and there are times when you simple can’t do a job with gloves on, but mostly, gloves will help with the chores and preserve your hands.

Light Gardening

Gardening gloves are mostly made of cotton, leather, or nitrile.  Cotton gloves work well for light gardening chores like planting seedlings, raking, or pulling some weeds.  Cotton gloves are easy to throw in the washer and dryer. Cotton gloves are smooth and can tend to pick up or attract things that are sticky like burrs.  They are also porous, so moisture can seep through to your skin.

Medium Gardening

If you are pulling difficult weeds, you might like nitrile gloves better.  These are waterproof and have a cloth back and nitrile hand with nubs on the grip to help you grasp things like deep rooted weeds. They are also good for spreading mulch and can be used for planting seedlings.  This all-around material serves many functions in the garden and usually sells in bundles of five.  They can be put in the washer then hung up to dry.

Heavy Gardening

Pruning or planting sticky, thorny plants, carrying cement blocks or large rocks, or any job that requires good protection for your hands requires leather.  When working with roses or thorny shrubs, you may want to get gloves that reach up to your elbow and protect your arms as well.

Try out different types of garden gloves to determine what works best for you. You can find brands that fit very snugly or are made for larger or smaller hands.  Using gloves when you are working in the garden makes the work safer, cleaner, and more comfortable.  You won’t have to spend a lot of time getting the dirt out from under your fingernails.

Garden Tool Series – Hoses

I know you have never sworn a blue streak over a kinked, clogged, or blown out hose, right?  Right! These problems seem to be the mainstay of watering with hoses.  When buying a new hose for the garden, you probably look for the length first, but most hoses come in different lengths. Let’s look at some of the characteristics of garden hoses to help you make your selection.

Materials

Most garden hoses are made from vinyl, rubber, or a blend of each. Rubber seems to be the favorite for colder climates and heavy use. The rubber garden hose is more durable, although it is also heavier.  With proper care though and indoor storage in winter, the rubber hose can last a long time. When combined, rubber and vinyl hoses have the durability of rubber and the lighter weight of vinyl.  There can also be nylon and rayon mesh used to strengthen and protect the outer areas of the hose.

Lengths

Garden hoses range in length from 10 to 100 feet or more and come in diameters of ½ inch to ¾ inches.  If you need the hose to reach farther than 100 feet, you can combine hoses to get the reach you need. Just be aware that the longer hoses are more difficult to curl up, so durability may be a consideration if you want to leave it out or cover with mulch to protect from sun and weather. One style of hose is the retracting hose that plumps up when filled with water. These are great if you remember to release the pressure on them after each use. Leaving them full can cause them to blow out.

Fittings

When selecting a garden hose, pay attention to the kinds of fittings available. Plastic works if you use the hose occasionally, but you may want to buy hoses with brass fittings if you will be using them for watering the garden frequently.  The connection to the faucet may leak more often with plastic connectors since it is harder to fasten them really tight.  Washers to use inside the connectors will help deter leaks.

Garden Tool Series – Rakes

The are several styles of rakes that perform different jobs. Whether you want to pick up leaves, level the soil, spread rocks or mulch, or smooth out the garden for planting, there is a rake that will make the job go faster.

Bow Rake

The bow rake, comes with varying numbers of tines spaced about 3/8 of an inch apart. The flat head holds the tines, looks like a giant comb, and is very useful for smoothing out soil, spreading rocks or mulch, or raking up small twigs and tree limbs from the grass.

Shrub Rake

The shrub rake is a very handy smaller version of the leaf rake, but the tines are thinner and closer together. It is very useful for raking between shrubs, between plants in a flower bed, or raking debris from around closely planted vegetables. It will also help spread mulch in these areas.

Leaf Rake

Leaf Rake – also known as a fan rake, this tool has multiple tines spaced fairly close together that curve on the ends to grab the leaves.  It is fan shaped and comes in sizes up to 30 inches wide at the widest part of the fan.  These rakes can be made of plastic, metal or bamboo.

The leaf rake’s unique curved tips grab a large number of leaves and can pick up a rake full of leaves to put them into whatever container you are using. The leaf rake is also useful when raking out ground cover beds or raking stones or debris from trees out of flower beds or walkways.

Hand-Held Rakes

These hand-held rakes are very useful when working in higher raised beds or reaching between plants where a larger rake won’t go. They have different tine configurations and handle sizes, and are usually about the size of a trowel. These rakes should definitely be included in your lawn tool gallery.

 

Garden Tool Series – Hoes

There are long-handled hoes and short hand-held hoes and they both perform several functions.

Draw Hoe

A draw hoe’s heavy, broad blade and straight edge is set at right angles to the handle and is probably the most familiar for gardening. It chops into the ground and draws the soil toward the user or pushes soil away as needed. Generally useful for mounding soil, cultivating around plants, and removing weeds. The draw hoe is also known by other names:  paddle, chopping and planter.

Stirrup Hoe

This hoe has a stirrup shaped blade that is sharp on both sides and is used primarily for cutting weeds off at the ground.  The blade can be pushed and pulled so that the back and forth motion cuts the weeds just under the soil. It is especially useful for stubborn weeds.

Onion Hoe

This hoe has a long thin blade designed for use in weeding in narrow spaces. The blade runs parallel to the surface of soil and allows the user to avoid back strain from bending over.

Dutch Hoe

The Dutch hoe has a triangular shaped, pointed blade allowing the user to dig down under stubborn weeds and pull it out of the ground. It comes with both long and short handles. The short-handled version is useful for weeding while sitting, kneeling or using in raised beds.

History

The use of hoes predates the plough and goes back to 8th century BC. Originally short-handled, these tools took a toll on backs and eventually evolved into the long-handled tools we know today.  In 1975, California banned the short-handled hoe for agricultural purposes.  Today, it is most useful when managing weeds in a waist-high raised bed that doesn’t require bending.

Reference:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoe_(tool)

 

Garden Tool Series – Forks

Garden Forks

Garden forks, called spading forks, or digging forks, have many uses.  Garden forks have short handles with shorter, flatter, thicker, and tines spaced fairly close together.  They are used mostly for lifting potatoes and other root crops from the ground.  They also come in handy using two together, back to back, to separate large clumps of roots or dividing overgrown plants.

Pitchforks

Pitchforks are good for moving loose materials like straw, hay, compost, leaves, or manure and are slightly different from garden forks.  Pitchforks have a longer handle and are available in various widths with thinner sharper tines. True pitchforks usually have only two or three tines to lift and move straw and hay.  A pitchfork with four or more tines is used for handling manure or mulch mainly but can also be used for straw and hay.

Hand Held Fork

Another tool with tines is a hand-held fork that is great for digging up weeds. It looks like a claw with a handle and the tines are bent at a 90-degree angle to the handle so it is easy to get the tines under the roots to pull them out. It is also good for digging in rocks or places where you can’t reach with a regular fork.

Summary

Depending on the extent of your gardening activities, you may benefit from all three types of forks. If you buy bulk mulch, the pitchfork is very useful in moving it into the wheelbarrow and out into the garden.  The shorter garden fork makes digging potatoes and root crops easy without cutting into the crop.  The hand held fork gets into tight spaces and digs deep rooted weeds.

 

Garden Tool Series – Shovels

A digging shovel is the only one that I have and I use it for everything, but I recently learned about other shovels that do some jobs better.

Digging Shovel

The digging shovel is a good all around shovel for lawn and garden work and comes in a long or short-handled version. It’s a versatile tool that can be used for digging, planting, cutting sod, and getting through small roots. Most have a flat surface at the top for applying enough pressure to go deep.

Trenching Shovel

 The trenching shovel has a narrow V-shaped blade that is good for cleaning out and digging narrow trenches or digging planting rows for seeds.

Transfer Shovel

 The transfer or scoop shovel has a wide, deep, square blade that scoops up more material than the digging shovel.  If you are moving gravel, compost, rocks, mulch, sand or other large quantities of material, this is the shovel for you.

Nursery Spade

The nursery spade has a long narrow blade with a flat edge that is good for digging plants growing in the ground. The flat blade allows you to cut straight down beside the plant without cutting into the roots.

Root Slayer Shovel

 

This interesting shovel has a wide topped, narrow tipped, long blade with saw-toothed sides, very useful for cutting sod and roots. The sharpened, inverted V cutting blade and specially designed root-cutting rip-saw teeth can make quick work of cutting through roots. It’s also useful for dividing perennials and digging holes for new plants.

This whole month, we will talk about different garden tools, so stay tuned.