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How to Recognize Gardening Tools & Their Uses

Take care of your garden by learning to recognize and use the right tools to spruce up your yard.


  • Step 1: Use a shovel Use a shovel to move dirt and scoop dirt and debris. The handle of your shovel should be shoulder-height, with a straight blade and edge for borders and tight spaces.
  • TIP: Remember to wear a hat and gloves and protect your skin with sunscreen during long hours in the sun.
  • Step 2: Use a spade Use a garden spade to dig soil and to cut through stubborn roots and clay. Unlike a shovel, a spade has a pointed head ideal for cleaving.
  • Step 3: Move dirt with hoe Break up soil around plants and loosen weeds with a draw hoe, which is angled to pull toward yourself when preparing soil for planting. A straight hoe is designed to slide beneath weeds and to chop up turf or difficult clumps.
  • Step 4: Break up dirt clods Smash dirt clods with a pitchfork or spading fork. Use forks to scrape garden debris into piles without having to bend over.
  • Step 5: Pick and dig Pick and dig through hard ground, cut through weeds with deep taproots, and make planting trenches with a pick or cutter mattock.
  • Step 6: Try hand tools Dig holes for planting seeds or bulbs with a hand trowel, and use a hand cultivator to break up soil and weeds around plants.
  • TIP: Use bright-handled hand tools so that they can be spotted easily in the garden.
  • Step 7: Cut and prune Clip shrub and tree growth with bypass or anvil pruners. Use hand shears or electric shears for topiary, and loppers to cut through thicker branches.
  • TIP: Use pruners and loppers with blades that can be locked when not in use.
  • Step 8: Rake, smooth, or clear Use a draw rake for debris like sticks and stones and to level dirt. Remove thatch or moss with a spring-tined rake, and remove loose matter with a leaf rake, which will also distribute topdressing and work it into the sward.
  • Step 9: Use a tiller Use a gas or electric tiller to turn soil and to mix fertilizer into it before planting. At the end of the season, till organic plant remains back in. Exercise your green thumb by using the right tool for the job.
  • FACT: Scientists estimate there are around 400,000 species of land plants.

You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Spade
  • Hoe
  • Pitchfork or spading fork
  • Pick or cutter mattock
  • Hand trowel
  • Hand cultivator
  • Pruners
  • Shears
  • Loppers
  • Rakes
  • Tiller

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