Whether it’s do-it-yourself work or hiring a landscaping artist, there’s one thing all gardeners have in common — they use basically the same tools.
According to Lowe’s Assistant Store Manager Josh Sitkowski, all gardening tools are more or less the same designs as the ones humans have always used, with most variation coming from minor design upgrades such as no-kink hoses and fiberglass handles. Other than that, the tools of the trade tend to remain the same year after year.
Tools come in all shapes and sizes, and when it comes to hand tools, Sitkowski said they typically tend to last a long time. The most important thing to remember is to use the right tool for the right job. The biggest reason Sitkowski said he sees a broken tool being returned is when a user attempted to do something that particular tool wasn’t designed to do. The most common mistake is trying to use a shovel to do the job a hoe would be better suited for, or opting to forgo using a digging tool to break up soil.
When it comes to hand tools — whether it be raking, shoveling, edging or the like — they all tend to have a few things in common. Basic tools come with shorter handles typically made out of wood, with fewer bolts holding the head to the handle. Moving up to mid-grade tools, these might have longer handles with more connecting points at the head to provide a sturdier product. Then finally, heavy-duty tools tend to move away from wood handles into fiber glass. These tools tend to be stronger and able to withstand more force than their lower-grade wood counterparts.
However, Sitkowski said it all comes down to preference. Some customers come in with a budget and more free time, so they don’t mind getting their hands dirty using manual tools. Other customers have less free time but more money to spend, and opt to either get industrial-grade tools the professionals use or resort to hiring a professional to assist with the job. Sitkowski said no matter which path a customer chooses, the basic tools are all the same.
The most variation in tools is when power tools come into play. They generally come in two flavors: gas-powered and electric-powered tools. Gas-powered tools tend to offer more options in terms of expansions, whereas electric-powered tools tend to be on the less expensive side but designed to handle one specific job with fewer accessories.
Sitkowski said when it comes to gardening, there aren’t a lot of high-tech tools. Most high-tech tools tend to be in the yard maintenance category. For example, he said there are not “robot” lawn mowers that operate similar to a robot vacuum. Other than that, gardening tends to appeal to those looking to get closer to nature, and those people tend to prefer hand tools. Other than power tillers, most gardeners can get by without any power tools.
Sitkowski said shovels come in two main varieties, with rounded tips for digging and flat head tools for moving earth and other material(s). Metal rakes are for gardening and floppy, plastic rakes are for leaves. A hoe is a good tool for breaking up dirt and helping define lines, but an edging tool might work better in some cases. Small, handheld tools work best for flower gardens, whereas a large shovel might be better for working in a larger space. Sitkowski said it is important to know when to use each tool to maintain its longevity. It’s also a good idea to wash all tools after each use; it could be as simple as running them under a water hose to remove mud, dirt and clay build-up that could potentially damage the tools as well as lead to rust.
Hoses are the other type of tool that Sitkowski said tends to come in a wider variety of options. It mostly comes down to different materials, each serving a different purpose. Length is the biggest factor in price. All hoses use the same connectors, while some might have couplers or extensions for adding multiple lines. The biggest different is whether or not the hose is kink-resistant or not. Kinks tend to cause problems as well as damage the hose over time, so it’s important to keep an eye on hoses to ensure they aren’t kinking.
Hoses do not need to be replaced very often either, unless they become damaged due to improper usage or in the case of excessive kinking. Sitkowski said as far as materials and connectors go, there’s nothing wrong with mixing and matching. For example, someone might pick up a lower-end hose to start out with and later decide to buy a more expensive hose. However, he said most people will opt to stick with the same type of hose throughout the job, upgrading as needed.