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Gardening Tools

FAQs
Shovels
Hoes
Sprayers
Pruners
Axes
Trimmers, Mowers & Blowers
Spreaders
Wheelbarrows


Garden Tools

Why are there so many different gardening tools?  We carry over 20 different rakes, lots of shovels and a plethora of soil working implements.

Quality tools are generally made of the best steel alloys available.  For example, we have five different bow rakes.  At first glance they all look essentially the same.  Upon closer examination the more expensive version has no welds and is made of one continuous piece of metal.  The handle is longer and the tool is quite a bit heavier.  On the other hand we have two models of spring rakes that look almost identical.  The red one says ACE Hardware on it and sells for $5.00 less than the blue one that says AMES.  Since Ames makes both rakes the red one may be the best value for you.

Buy the best shovel you can afford.  Two $5.00 shovels aren't worth one $10.00 shovel and a $20.00 shovel is much better than two $10.00 versions.  A fiberglass handle offers weather protection.

Forged tools are built to last.  We see many tools made in the 1950's still coming in for replacement handles.  Not just forks and rakes but lopping shears as well.

Not all quality tools are expensive.  We sell a Hula Hoe, made in California, and one of the most popular hoes available for well under $20.00.  In general, however, you do get what you pay for.  If you take care of your tools it may be advantageous to wait on a purchase until you can afford the higher quality item.

Basic tools for a home gardener include a shovel, steel rake, leaf rake, hand pruner, pruning saw, hoe, hand trowel and hand cultivator.  A compression sprayer is pretty important too. Look towards quality when purchasing these items and you will be a much happier gardener and experience fewer problems with your tools.

 

Keeping track of tools

Pinchbars, sledgehammers, crowbars, and even shovels are easily misplaced and hard to find after you have worked in a dirty or overgrown area. To reduce the chance of losing them, spray a wide band of bright florescent paint on the handles. Use the same color on all the tools. Not only will they be easier to find, but they'll also be immediately identified as yours.

 

Shovels

On long-handled tools, such as a shovel, what is the advantage of the more expensive ones?

The higher-priced shovels have a sturdier construction and have better materials. For example, the composite handles are less likely to break.

Should I buy a long-handled or short-handled shovel?

A job's limited space may require a short handle. However, a long handle supplies more leverage and allows you to work in a more upright position. As a result, a long-handled shovel is usually a better choice.

What are the advantages of shovels with curved handles?

These are called back savers because they allow you to work without bending over.

What is the difference between a round-point and square-point shovel?

Round-point shovels are used for digging, while most square points are used for scooping.

Ditch Shovels

Sometimes we discover a better tool for the job that pays for itself in many ways and in a hurry.  Such is the trenching or ditch shovel.  It's a narrow (typically 5"), long (about 12") spade and made with either a short 'D' or long handle.  This tool is a dream to dig a drain trench with even in heavy soil.  You are applying more force to a smaller area because the shovel is so narrow.  Useful in confined areas for spading, it will dig a hole too if you don't have a post-hole digger and want an efficient size. 

Of course, if you are a dedicated clam digger, you already know about handy trench shovels.

 

Hoes

            The best basic garden hoe has socket construction in which a one-piece blade, shank and socket are driven onto the handle providing greater strength. It should be sturdy with enough heft to prevent bounce.

            Several other specialized hoe styles are available. There are weeding hoes with a pointed blade to lift out weeds, which are also useful for scribing seed trenches. Weeds also hate the push or scuffle hoe that allows a thin blade to slide just below the surface to cut them off. The handle is attached to the rear of the blade at a shallow angle.

Remember to take a few minutes with a file. Sharpen both your hoe and shovel on the backside. Use a flat medium-course file and stroke in one direction only. The job is faster if you use an electric grinder but be sure to let the metal cool frequently.

Is there any advantage of a metal leaf rake over a plastic leaf rake?

A metal rake usually has more spring and is better suited for large areas. It is easier to clean around flowerbeds, shrubs and bushes and does not rake up essential thatch in a lawn.

Sprayers

Can I repair my pump sprayer that has quit working?

Usually, this is the result of damaged seals in the pump. Most manufacturers sell a repair kit. In addition, the sprayer will not work if the tip is clogged and needs cleaning.

What type of pump sprayer do you recommend?

For the homeowner, the plastic ones are often a good choice because they will not rust. Some of these have metal wands and tips, which are stronger, more durable and easier to clean.

 

Pruners

I need a tool to trim my evergreens.

Anvil pruning shears work well on light foliage. For heavier cutting, a lopping shear with more leverage will be needed. For other trees, a bypass shear provides a cleaner cut that those trees prefer.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of anvil and bypass pruners?

Anvils provide one blade that is pushed up against a flat surface. These are less expensive and are good on dried wood. Some experts also believe evergreens also prefer this type of cut. Bypass pruners allow you to cut larger branches (up to about ?").

What are compound or ratchet pruners?

These use a mechanical action so the tool does more of the work. It requires less effort and force.

Felcos

These are GREAT pruners.  Wonderfully made, smooth action - the best you can buy.  If you spend any time working in a garden, this pruner is an essential tool.

Besides the basic Felco pruner, (available for lefties also) we have a swivel-handle model for professionals, a pruner for smaller hands and an anvil-style pruner as well.

We stock all the parts for these pruners and can sharpen the blades or sell you a new one. Ask a clerk to let you try one.

What do I use to cut branches more than 1"?

Loppers are used on small trees and bushes up to 2" in diameter. They are essentially oversized pruners and are also available in compound models. For larger branches, you will need a saw. These come in a variety of styles. Essentially, you need to pick one that will allow you to get at the branches.

What's the best way to trim large branches with a saw?

About 6" to 1' away from the trunk of the tree, cut about halfway up through the branch. Next, cut down from the top. Finally, cut off the stub at its collar on the trunk.

Are there tree-trimmers you can use from the ground?

Yes, pole tree trimmers typically extend 12' to 20'. Shears with a pulley and rope can cut about a 1" diameter branch, and saws are used on branches up to about 6". For these and larger branches, you may want to consider a chain saw.

How do I take care of my pruning tools?

Simply keep them clean and wipe them down with light oil. Oil their pivot points and blades and keep them sharp.

Axes

What is the advantage of composite handles on an ax or maul?

These cost a little more than wood-handled versions, but they are stronger. This can be particularly important if you have a tendency to overstrike, which can break a wood handle. In the past, wood handles were easier to replace, but new composite designs make these easy to fix as well. Some people say they prefer the feel of wood and that it creates less vibration.

 

 Trimmers & Mowers

What is the difference between a two-cycle and a four cycle-engine?

With a two-cycle engine, you will have to mix oil with the gasoline. Four-stroke engines tend to be more efficient and usually require less maintenance.

What size of string do I need to buy for my string trimmer?

This varies greatly. You either need to bring in your old string or know what brand and model you have. If you don't know, we can make a guess. If we are right, you won't have to come back. If you have an electric trimmer, it's probably .064 and if you have a gas trimmer it's most likely .080.

How should I trim?

Most people use a power trimmer that spins a nylon line. Try to keep it at the same height as your mowed grass. Remember cutting grass too short can damage it. And always remember to wear protective eyewear and heavy clothing on your legs.

What should I look for when buying a lawn mower?

For a mulching or self-propelled mower, you need plenty of horsepower. Look for one that has a 5- to 6-horsepower engine.

How do I maintain my mower after each use?

After each mowing, wait until the engine cools and then use a hose to spray the clippings and grass debris that may be clinging to the underside of the mower deck. Some people recommend that you get your blade sharpened about once a month.

What about annual maintenance on my mower?

If you are going to store your mower for the winter, disconnect the sparkplug and drain the fuel from the tank. Then, reconnect the sparkplug and run the engine until it runs out of gas. This keeps aging fuel from going bad inside the engine. In the spring, change the oil in the mower if you have a four-stroke engine. In addition, replace the spark plug, fuel filter and air filter.

What is an edger?

This tool provides a vertical cut into the soil, to create a clean line between a lawn and a flowerbed, driveway, sidewalk or some other structure. The fastest models are powered models. A non-powered edging tool looks like a shovel with a small blade shaped like a half moon. You can push the blade in with your foot so that it slices off a thin piece of turf, leaving a clean, straight edge of soil along the edge of the lawn.

When buying a trimmer or edger, should I buy gas-powered or electric models?

If you can reach every corner of your yard with a 150' extension cord, you should consider an electric model. They typically cost less, are quieter and require less maintenance. If you have a larger yard, then a gas-powered model may be better.

Are cordless electric hedge trimmers a good choice?

For general use they are more than adequate, but most only offer run times of less than one hour. Some corded models are more heavy duty.

Is there a power tool that I can use to trim evergreens with?

Yes, there are electric hedge trimmers. They come in different sizes. The larger units are more powerful, but do not buy a model that is too heavy for you to handle.

Which is better, an electric or gas leaf blower?

A gas blower provides mobility and is more powerful.

What should I consider in a leaf blower?

It's best to buy a blower that can be reversed and also used as a vacuum. This allows you to sweep up the leaves, and some models even have a mulching feature.

 Spreaders 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of drop spreaders and broadcast spreaders?

A drop spreader allows for precise applications, such as along flower beds, but it typically takes a little longer and requires you to make sure that you do not put too much or too little in one area. Broadcast spreaders are quicker and require less precision.

 

Wheelbarrows

There is a wheelbarrow or lawn cart to suit every need.

Lawn carts have two wheels and are easier to use over uneven ground  Because they require less effort, they are better for people with less strength and balance.  Our wooden lawn carts can easily accommodate big bulky items  and have large "mountain-bike" tires for easy going over rough ground.  Rubbermaid makes a nice lightweight cart that is perfect for an older gardener.

Wheelbarrows require more skill and strength to operate but can quickly move lots of material in tight places.  We have two models that are shaped for concrete work and have metal handles for extra heavy loads.  The wooden-handled models come in 4, 5 and 6 cubic foot sizes, and we do carry replacement handles for them.