If there’s a first-time homeowner in your group of family and friends, here are some holiday gift suggestions that will make their yard work a breeze. Gardeners also would appreciate these tools.
Lawn mower. If the yard is small, go for an electric mower. I recommend the cordless type, which is much easier to use around flowerbeds. I speak from the experience of having run over the mower cord twice before replacing the machine with a battery-operated model. I’ve had two Black & Deckers (with and without cord) and recently purchased a Neuton. Make sure it’s a mulching mower, which cuts grass clippings (and leaves) into tiny bits, returning them to the ground where they add nutrients to the soil.
Shovel. Although we use shovel and spade interchangeably, they are two different tools. A shovel has a pointed end and a bowl-shaped blade. It sort of looks like a spade found on playing cards. Among tools, though, a spade has a straight edge and is usually smaller and narrower than a shovel. Each can be used for digging. The spade is a great tool for edging beds.
Garden fork. This is probably my favorite digging tool. It is especially efficient for digging in heavy soil. The tines help break up chunks of soil.
Clippers. Start with hand snips or clippers. Corona, Fiskars and Felco are quality brands to consider. Clippers come as bypass or anvil types. Bypass models work like scissors and anvils cut on a flat, metal surface. Opt for bypass clippers because they make a clean cut of branches or stems of flowers, rather than crimping or smashing them.
Pruning tools. A lopper, especially with telescoping handles, can be used to cut branches 1 inch diameter or larger, depending on the model. Loppers also can be used to cut back woody perennials, such as hydrangeas, and shrubs.
Wheelbarrow. There are several types, with most common being the traditional model with a metal or plastic bowl. The weakest part of this type is the tire, so consider getting one with a solid rubber tire rather than one that needs air. There also are collapsible, lightweight models, such as WheelEasy from allsopgarden.com or amazon.com, which would be a good choice for those without a lot of storage space.
Rakes. There are two basic types – a garden or bow rake with downward facing tines about 3 inches long, and a leaf rake, which is usually fan shaped. A garden rake is used to smooth out the soil or spread mulch, and the tines help break up clumps of soil. The leaf rake is lighter weight and does what its name implies.