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Good tools make a great garden

By Carolyn Alexander
Master Gardener
Every gardener needs a few basic tools. They allow you to tend your garden and complete chores with ease. Purchase good quality tools in the mid-range price scale.
Gardening gloves: Gloves will protect your hands from developing blisters and injury from sharp sticks, prickly leaves, stems and stones.
Shovel: Shovels are available with a rounded or straight edge. If you only purchase one, get the one with the rounded edge. Both should have handles about 4 feet long for ease of use. Shovels are used for digging new ground, planting, digging up weeds and shoveling garden debris.
Rake: The garden rake or bow rake is different from the leaf rake in that is has short, steel teeth. It is used to smooth and level the soil in the newly tilled garden.
Garden hoe: A hoe is used to make rows for seeds and transplants and to dig weeds out of the garden. It is much easier to weed from a standing position rather than going from plant to plant on your knees.
Hand trowel, cultivator and fork: These tools usually come in sets. They are useful for getting in close to the plant to weed and aerate without damaging the plant and for digging holes for planting seeds and small plants.
Garden cart: Garden carts are useful for hauling materials to and from the garden. They come in many styles, from four-wheeled wagons to the three-wheeled wheelbarrow.
Garden hose: A hose is used to water the plants after planting and to hose off garden tools, wash loose soil from sidewalks, driveways and paved garden paths.
Kneelers: You will spend much time on your knees in the garden. A kneeler can be purchased from a garden shop or can be as simple as a piece of foam or old rug.
Pruners: Pruners are used to trim damaged parts of plants to keep them healthy and looking good. They are used for cutting flowers and trimming back plants at the end of the growing season.
A variety of ergonomic, enabling or adapted gardening tools are available for the arthritic or handicapped gardener. A number of Web sites and gardening supply catalogs offer tools with enhanced grips or lengthened handles which can relieve strain on achy joints. Common tools that are already owned can be adapted to make garden tasks easier. Foam pads, knee pads, rolling seats, tool caddies, extendable watering wands and small light-weight plastic garden carts are available to make gardening easier on those with physical limitations.
Carolyn Alexander is a Master Gardener volunteer with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service.

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