Essential Garden Tools

The Martha Stewart Show, February 2009

When preparing for gardening projects, start by making an inventory of your gardening tools. These are the basic tools that any gardener should have. Buy the best-quality tools you can afford, as the tools you choose will shape your experience and the quality of your garden for years to come.

Hand Trowel: An absolute essential for a gardener, whether a novice or a professional. Look for a trowel whose blade is made of steel.

Hand Hoe: A short-handled hoe for weeding and cultivating.

Hand Cultivator: A tool used with a chop-and-pull motion, which allows the curved prongs to remove weeds and scratch up crusted soil.

Micro-Tip Blade: A tool equipped with sharp blades perfect for precision cutting.

Pruners: Great for cutting branches up to 1/2-inch thick, these are "bypass" shears, which cut like scissors and make cleaner cuts. Make sure to buy a model with a replaceable blade.

Shovel: For breaking into hard soil or shifting piles of soil, sand, or compost.

Rake: An absolute necessity for combing rocks and clods out of a bed and leveling the soil for seed sowing.

Tool Maintenance
Once you've found tools that suit you, you'll want to keep them in optimum shape; with proper care, a good spade can last a lifetime.

Sharpen your cutting tools along with the blades of shovels and spades with a whetstone. When sharpening a blade on a stone, simply slide the blade over the flat surface in one direction until you reach desired sharpness. And, make sure you have replacement blades.

Using an oil-based paint on your tool's handles is a great way to identify that trowel lying amidst the greenery in your garden. Stenciling the handles of tools is a great way to keep them clearly and easily identified as your own.

To prevent your tools from rusting, pour a container of motor oil into a bucket of sand. Then, every time you use your tools, rinse them off, dry the blades thoroughly, and insert them into this grainy oil and sand mixture -- it's a Good Thing.

Special Thanks
Special thanks to Johnny's Seeds for giving catalogues to our studio audience. Special thanks to Fiskars for giving micro-tip blades to our studio audience.

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