Tool Guidelines for Novice Green Thumbers

Spring is all about spring cleaning. While many people limit their spring cleaning to clearing the house of a winter's worth of clutter, the spirit of spring cleaning can be applied to the lawn and garden as well.

For novice green thumbers, choosing a starting point can be frustrating. But a good starting point for any lawn care enthusiast, be it a newcomer or veteran, is to examine what's in the tool shed. Tools can make a job easier or nearly impossible, so make sure you have the following tools in your shed this season, and be sure they're in good shape.

* Shovel. Find a shovel that fits your stature, particularly one with a handle that reaches your shoulders, the width of the bar fitting comfortably in your hands. Using a shovel that's too large or too small will make the job much more difficult and time-consuming.

* Wheelbarrow. Save time and energy by transporting heavy materials and equipment with a good wheelbarrow instead of by hand.

* Spade. Planting is made much easier when done with a sharp-edged spade. Though not rustproof, a forged steel spade will hold up better against hard objects like rocks under the soil.

* Pruners. Ergonomic and mechanically assisted pruners enable gardeners to cut through thick branches with minimal strain on your hands, making them especially beneficial to senior green thumbers.

* Hoe. Hoes enable you to cultivate, weed and mix the garden and flower beds as you push and pull the soil.

* Cultivator. Cultivators make aerating the soil much easier, particularly in early spring when the soil is harder after a long winter.

* Shears. Shears help maintain and shape shrubs by making it easier to slice through thick branches.

* Metal rake. A metal rake helps overturn soil and work mulch or compost into the top layers of the ground.

* Trimmer. Trimmers help shear tall-growth areas and any areas that might have grown unruly during the winter months. Trimmers are typically motorized, so exercise caution and wear safety gear when using one.

* Hose. Hoses come in many shapes and sizes, and the right fit depends on the property. Just be sure when buying a hose that there's enough length to extend from the external faucet to whatever area you'll be watering.

* Edger: Edgers can give the property a clean, manicured look by trimming away any stray blades around the perimeter that the mower left behind.

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