How's your great outdoors shaping up? Whether you've just recently developed the gardening bug or your green thumb's been sprouting for ages, you've realized that you need more than just your hands to work on your garden. Tools are part of the gardener's arsenal -- for pruning, for aerating soil, for carefully breaking apart root balls. Here's our list of what you'll need plus tips on choosing and keeping them...
- Hand rake or fork: for picking up leaves and cleaning gently around plants
- Watering Can: for watering new plantings and soaking old ones
- Garden shears and/or scissors: for trimming around plants, cutting flowers and herbs, deadheading
- Hand weeder: for removing weeds
- Pruners: a small one for cutting delicate branches, large flowers and scoring root balls; a large one to tackle bigger branches.
- Shovels and spades: round headed shovels are good for digging holes and moving gravel; small spades are good for honing in on a specific area.
- Long Handled Rakes: a bow rake for spreading compost and dirt; a leaf rake for leaves and other light material
- Digging Fork: for turning and lifting soil and lifting bulbs
- Hori-Hori aka Japanese Gardener's Knife: a multi-purpose tool, it can be used as a trowel, to separate plants and to dig crevices.
- Garden gloves: the ideal is three kinds: thin synthetic ones to protect your hands while doing delicate work; latex coated fabric gloves for general gardening and heavy leather gloves for tough jobs.
- Arm protectors, a hat and sunscreen: use the arm protectors when you are in literally thorny situations; use the hat and sunscreen anytime you step outside to garden, even on cloudy days.
- Wood is good: A second choice is coated metal, preferably stainless steel. Avoid painted wood handles; they look pretty but the paint often disguises inferior wood.
- Size matters: As with stuff you'd buy for your kitchen, "try" on garden tools for feel and fit. This is not a one size fits all situation.
- Put em away: Clean your tools -- brush them off or at least wipe them clean - and then hang them up or store them in your garden bag.
[image: West of East Dean, a collection of hand made gardening tools, accessories and gifts for avid gardeners]