A little play sand will help keep seeds located in the garden
When you sow new seeds in the spring, it’s hard to remember exactly where they’re planted before they sprout. That’s a problem when putting in other seeds and plants and even for watering, especially if you plant in curved rows. To make my rows easy to find, I sprinkle a little play sand over the seeds as I plant them. The seeds sprout right through the sand, I know exactly where to water, and the sand helps keep the weeds down while providing good drainage. — Steve Virgilio. It’s one of our great tips to ID seeds and we’ve got more. Plus: Our best tips for frugal gardeners.
Plus: 12 Must-Have Garden Tools
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Essential Gardening Tools
When starting a garden, having the right tools is essential. You'll need tools for prepping, planting, tending and harvesting. There's quite the variety — from power tillers to simple hand trowels. Here are the best gardening tools to help home gardeners grow happy and healthy plants.
A simple hand trowel is the best garden tool for almost every situation. It's useful for planting bulb and small perennials, as well as digging up weeds. It's not the right choice for planting large shrubs and trees — for that, you'll want a well-sharpened shovel. This Fiskars hand trowel has a rust-resistant aluminum head and an ergonomic handle.
After the snow melts and the muddy mess dries into a workable garden, the soil needs to be tilled. There are many options for tillers. Large gardens may benefit from a power tiller, which you can rent or purchase. Small to moderate gardens can be hand-worked with a manual garden tiller. These reliable tools won't run out of gas and never need an oil change. They're a tough workout, though, and a power tiller gets the job done faster.
A billhook saw is one of the best gardening tools thanks to its versatility. They are designed for trimming shoots and stems, cutting vines, severing roots and sawing branches. If you've got an overgrown garden, or one filled with coarse ornamental grasses that need to be cut back, try a 13- or 18-in. billhook saw. This Fiskars model feature a rust-resistant curved blade for quick pull cuts, and a coarse saw edge for removing tough branches and grasses.
A rounded-blade digging shovel is one of the best gardening tools. It's indispensable if you're planting anything larger than your fist. Shovels have come a long way ergonomically, and this one is a good example. The D-shaped handle helps gives you two-handed control when digging up and tossing heavy loads of soil. The welded steel construction is more durable than wood and won't flex under a heavy load as fiberglass would. Meanwhile, the large step plate is wide enough to relieve pressure on your foot when stepping on it repeatedly. Sharpen your shovel regularly to keep it working its best.
A flat-blade edging spade is a handy friend to have around the garden. It can edge a garden, slice turf neatly, cut roots, or scrape soil or mulch off a flat surface like a sidewalk or truck bed. You can also use this garden tool for general planting or when you're 'heeling in' bare-root plants (putting them in the ground temporarily until a permanent location is found). Like the digging shovel, the D-handle of this garden tool offers better control.
This garden spade is better suited for cutting and scooping than it is for digging deep holes.
When you're cutting branches the size of your finger or bigger, bring out the heavy-duty pruning tools. Loppers offer larger blades than pruners and more leverage as well. These PowerGear loppers can easily cut branches with a diameter of up to 1-1/2 in. The gear technology increases leverage to give you up to three times more cutting power than standard loppers. Available in various sizes, from 18 to 25 in., from Fiskars and local retailers.
This multipurpose garden tool is more than a trowel. The hori hori tool is also a knife, saw and even a measuring device for planting bulbs. Use it for planting, weeding, cutting sod, severing roots and dividing perennials. It even comes with a holster to protect the stainless steel blade.
While its primary purpose is gathering leaves, a leaf rake is also handy for collecting other garden debris (like grass clippings that accumulate when you've waited too long between cuts!). Durable steel-tine rakes are great for smaller yards or when you want to scratch the soil surface while raking. If you're dealing with a large yard, a poly leaf rake covers more territory in less time. This poly garden equipment rake features a 24-in. clog-free head that won't spear leaves.
A digging fork, sometimes called garden or spade fork, is handy for many garden tasks. It's one of the best garden tools for loosening compacted soil, aerating small areas, incorporating compost into garden beds and dividing perennials. The D handle makes the digging fork easier to use in tight spaces, while the tapered tines penetrate the soil more easily.
There's nothing like a wheelbarrow for making things easier for the gardener. You can carry soil, compost, firewood and more. Or use it to transport your tools around the yard or soak plant roots before planting. If you're working with heavy loads, get a steel bin rather than poly. Two-wheel models are the most stable for heavy loads. A standard wheelbarrow is appropriate for most uses, but do yourself a favor and get a never-flat tire.