Not so very long ago, each family owned an axe, and the handle was so distinctive that neighbors could tell who owned it just by looking. Far from being mass produced, the handle was cut and shaped to accommodate its owner’s hands, height, and weight. Consequently, it felt balanced and perfectly natural when in use. We no longer make our own tools, but select from a wide variety the tools that are best for us and the jobs we have to do.
Today, you can explore the differences among many garden tools and end up with those that suit your particular requirements. Virtually all garden tools, from pruning shears to chainsaws, differ in quality of material, in workmanship, and in size.
The modern gardener’s garden equipment needs haven’t really changed over the past 100 years: There are tools for preparing the ground for planting, and there are tools for keeping vegetables, flowers, or orchards free of weeds and disease.
This means that only a few tools are absolutely essential, but a huge number of tools are available. These tools are designed to make gardening easier and more pleasurable, and many are well worth their cost in terms of time and energy saved. However, there is no point in wasting money on tools you don’t really need—as you already know if you’ve ever purchased tools that looked irresistible in the store but lay unused in your tool shed. When you come across a tool you “just have to have” stop and evaluate your needs carefully: What is the tool’s function? How often would you use it? Would a tool you already have do the job just as well? For example, there are many different types of hoes on the market, but do you need to own every one?
If you use a tool properly—that is, for its designated purpose and according to directions—it will stay in good condition for years. Misuse is one of the main reasons why tools get damaged and broken. This section will tell you how to use your tools properly.