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Good garden tools mean the difference between lovingly maintaining your garden and grumbling from blisters and a sore back.

GARDEN TOOL BUYING GUIDE
Pick a tool that fits you. In the store, check the weight, length and grip. If you don’t get the right tool, you can end up with blisters . Some new pruners come with rotating handles – they make pruning
easier on the wrist. Check the lock on pruners to make sure you can open and close them with your gloves on.

Buy quality tools if you can. They will cost a bit more, but you will save money in the long run. Many inexpensive tools either don’t do the job well or break before the season is over. Look for tools forged from a single piece of steel instead of from folded or pressed steel. Look for loppers and hand pruners
with heat-hardened steel blades. Buy tools with shock absorbers, as they bear the brunt of each cut instead of your arms or hands and shoulders. Padded or vinyl coated grips will also prevent blisters. Ash wood handles are better at absorbing shock than metal-handled ones.

It is also important that you wear the right kind of footwear. Try not to wear backless shoes if you are using a lawnmower, as the shoe may slip off and could cause you harm.

TOOL MAINTENANCE
Always clean your tools after using them.This can be as easy as wiping or hosing off the dirt and plunging the tool a few times into a small bucket that is filled with a mixture of fine sand and mineral
oil. The sand will clean off leftover dirt and then deposit a light coat of oil to protect the metal parts from rusting.

When you are using tools on diseased plants, make sure that you clean them with a bleach solution to avoid spreading the disease or fungus to other plants. It is even a good idea to keep a bucket of
water/bleach beside you when you are working with plants that need attention, as you can dip the tools you are using in the solution right away.

The most used and necessary tools for your garden are:

A good trowel – long handed is better, and with a padded handle.
A strong but not heavy spade, made with a one-piece steel handle.
A garden hoe – there are many styles, pick the one that suits what you are doing.
A hand cultivator.
Garden shears – make sure to keep them sharp.
A lightweight wheelbarrow.
FREE OR ALMOST-FREE TOOLS THAT WORK
To finely dust plants (such as using sulphur fungicide), use one leg of an old pair of pantyhose. Just drop in the dusting substance and shake the leg up and down to distribute a very fine dust. When dusting always wear a dust mask.

Plastic pots make a great granular fertilizer spreader in tight areas. Find two plastic pots, the kind with the holes in the bottom that fit together. Fit the pots together so that the holes do NOT line up. Fill with fertilizer or other material. When you are ready to distribute the fertilizer, twist the pots so that the holes line up, then shake to distribute. Open the holes a lot to release a large amount, or slide open slightly to release just a trickle.

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