Gardening tools for amateurs
Published on: Sunday, July 07, 2019

In ancient times when human beings first started cultivating various plants in the initial stages of domestication of members of the plant kingdom, very few tools, if any, were used.  Even in the cultivation of vital food crops for sustenance of the community, the most widely used “tool” comprised the human limbs.  

The job was tough but life had to go on. They turned to very simple and primitive tools in their effort to improve their cultivation. These tools were nothing better than natural structures such as pieces of sharp-pointed stones, wooden slats, spikes from tree branches and other naturally occurring contraptions. Nowadays, however, the scenario is so much different and complicated compared to those days.  


Heavy weights of the garden – the spade, ‘cangkul’ and machete.

Words like “motorised”, “electronic”, “power” and “computerised” are very often heard in casual conversations about plants and cultivation.  

Even in simple pastimes such as gardening, such sophisticated terminology do not escape the mouths and eyes of keen gardening enthusiasts. These jargons are not mere fodder for gossip among gardening enthusiasts because in reality, tools and equipment defined as such do exist nowadays.

So, gardening enthusiasts out there, you are really in luck because the existence of such modern tools and gadgets can indeed make your dream of “breezing through in gardening” come true.  

This should put away for good the misconception that gardening requires tough bodies, bulging biceps and rippling muscles, which, in the past, have scared away countless sweet ladies who would otherwise have gleefully taken up gardening in droves.

Basically, all tools and equipment serve to aid the gardening enthusiast in simplifying and lightening his workload in the garden.  They are usually designed to be easy to use, practical and economical to own. However, it is sometimes necessary to improvise a little depending on the needs of the situation.    

Generally, basic gardening tools are not only light and handy but are also quite tough and resilient.  In this respect, tools and equipment do help a great deal in sustaining and heightening the pleasure of pottering around that can add greatly to a very joyful experience.  But without tools, it can also be the most distasteful, dreary and exhausting chore.  

Try pruning your rose bushes or digging a hole in the ground with your bare hands and you will know the meaning of gardening without tools.


A trowel and a pair of secateurs.


Classes of tools

There are many kinds of gardening tools and equipment in the market today.  These are designed to meet every conceivable need and requirement of gardening enthusiasts.  

Apart from being commonly used by enthusiasts, many of the tools are also extensively used on commercial farms such as those producing vegetables, spices, ornamental and fruit nurseries, fruit orchards, and so on.  

Tools can be conveniently grouped into either manual or power tools.

l Manual tools – these are simpler in construction and easier to use.  They comprise mostly the small, hand-held tools which are sometimes known as hand tools, although some heavier and larger ones are also manual in nature.  

In using manual tools, the only power that works them comes from the energy of the user.  This means that using the right size of tools is important because an overly large-sized tool would be too unwieldy for a small user whereas a tiny little tool would be too ill-fitting for a big fellow.

l Power tools – such tools operate with assisted power.  These usually come in the form of electricity or power generated by a small engine running on diesel or petrol.  

Motorised tools and equipment, as opposed to the electrically run ones, are generally more mobile and independent of the source of power.  This is possible as the engine is close by the working tool, and when sufficient fuel is carried in mini tanks in the engine which is typically a portable generator set, the tool can be made to work long distances away from its base.  

The only disadvantage is that power tools are vastly more expensive than manual tools but they are worth acquiring since they can make your dream of truly breezing through your gardening tasks come true.


Raffia strings and rope, a roll of twist ties, a bundle of cable ties and a pair of pliers.


Functions of garden tools and equipment

Tools are designed to meet certain functions.  All tools are useful and beneficial and there is no such thing as a useless piece of tool.  If you think it is useless, it is because you have no use for it, or have as yet no use for it.  So don’t acquire such tools to clutter up your storeroom or clog up your tool drawers.  If you need to use certain tools, by all means go out to acquire them for the simple reason that there is a need to use it for some functions.

In the modern garden such as vegetable garden, hydroponic garden, bonsai garden, zen garden, aquatic garden, vertical garden, indoor garden etc, there are many functions to carry out.  This calls for equipping oneself with suitable tools to meet the needs of each gardening endeavour, which may include some or all of the following:

l Spraying/watering – such a function requires tools and equipment like hoses, knapsack sprayers, compressed air sprayers, sprinklers, watering cans, handheld and tree sprayers, water pumps etc.  Some of these may be motorised or electrically driven, but the most convenient ones that meet everyday needs are still the simple, manual tools which are perfect when covering small areas or where there are not too many plants.  These gadgets are equally able to apply water or chemicals to whichever location in the garden or to whatever plant or tree without any problem.  

With a spray lance attached, or even extended lances, the distance covered may be quite appreciable. Power-assisted tools are normally able to deliver contents to a very much further distance and a very broad area of coverage especially if a suitable spray gun or jet is attached.

l Carting – the function of carting in the garden is served amazingly well by the common garden workhorse, that is the wheelbarrow. It can be used to carry anything, and is extensively used in estates and commercial farms cultivating vegetables or fruits, or on agricultural estates or farms producing animals for human consumption.  However, there is usually no need for such a kind of horse in the smaller gardens, rooftop or container gardens in flats, on balconies, window ledges or cantilevers, or indoor gardens,.

l Digging/excavating – spades and cangkuls are the most common tools that serve this function.  it is also common to find mini models of such tools that are for sale in many agricultural shops or supermarkets.  These minis are much lighter and more comfortable to handle so it is a must item to help work on a garden.  The standard spades and cangkuls may be a little heavy for some, especially the ladies, and it is cumbersome too to handle, not to say of the chances of these hitting the toes of the handler.  

However, any gardening enthusiast who knows his stuff certainly must have the hand-held trowel as one of the most important possessions.

l Hoeing – this function is well-served by the use of rakes, forks, hoes, and cultivators, including the mechanised type. Hand rakes and hand forks are especially useful in the garden when doing weeding, application of fertilisers or manures, loosening of soil, or in moisture conservation.

l Pruning/cutting – under this category of tasks, there are many kinds of tools and equipment that can be used to ease the workload.  The most common ones include the pruning shears or common garden secateurs.  This item, together with hand trowel and garden rake or fork, are essentially must-have items in the garden.

Other tools in this category include hedge pruners, long-handled shears, pruning saws and knives, axes and parangs, manual or power trimmers, etc.  These serve to prune plants into the desired shapes, control direction of growth, remove unwanted or problem parts of plants, among others.

l Securing/staking – this is a necessary task especially when dealing with the taller or more spindly kinds of plants.

 Securing and staking are aimed at positioning the plant firmly so that it does not topple over.  Oftentimes plants especially the more supple branches, are secured and tied to keep a certain form.  This is greatly helped by the use of cable or twist ties, ropes, raffia strings, coated and uncoated wires, etc.

l Mowing – mowing refers generally to lawn mowers, and in this respect, mowers and other grass cutters are the most common tools involved.  mowers may run on some kind of fuel as an independent unit which affords it great mobility and wide coverage.  

Other mowers may be electrically powered which is usually linked by a stretch of cable to a power outlet.  However, this makes it very cumbersome because of the great length of wire required.  Unless care is exercised, it may lead to entanglement and subsequent severance by the cutting blade, which may result in an electric shock.

Many mowing tasks are nowadays being done by backpack machines where the engine and fuel tank are held in the backpack which is usually hung over the back of the operator.  Power is engaged and applied through a long lance the tip of which is fixed the cutting blade or nylon string.  a skilful operator can trim a lawn to an appreciable degree of evenness but, still, nothing beats the traditional tough and reliable workhorse called the lawn mower.

l Cleaning/clearing – for these, special tools are required which may include wire or bamboo brushes, brooms, lawn rakes, power blowers, etc.  Cleaning/clearing are functions that are usually carried out last in any gardening task so as to maintain the place under neat and tidy conditions.

l Safety aspects – being aware and alert to such aspects at all times is of paramount importance in order to prevent injuries.  This is where things like goggles, masks, helmets, boots, gloves etc are important.  Remember, be safe always.

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