Home improvement warehouse stores are full of gadgets and devices aimed at easing your gardening work. However, many successful home gardens are cultivated with a handful of good hand tools — and the high-tech alternatives often won’t help you grow a tastier tomato or brighter begonias. A gardener’s toolkit requires little more than a trowel, fork, manual weeder, rake and shears. Each time-tested tool beats several high-tech alternatives.
1. Shears: A good pair of bypass pruning shears can keep many trees and shrubs neat and tidy, while also helping harvest vegetables and flowers, clear away dead leaves and cut weeds away from the plants you want to keep.
Power pruners such as the Alligator Lopper add chainsaw teeth and electric scissor action. They may seem like a great idea, but sharp hand pruners are plenty powerful for most home gardeners. The Alligator Lopper may be more hazard than help in many homes. Another overrated alternative is the Garden Groom collecting electric hedge trimmer. It looks like an oversized high-tech iron, and it trims away hedges, then shreds and collects the leaves all in one device. However, users complain it is too heavy and may not do the job. It only cuts a small amount at a time, so it requires several passes on many hedges. It also doesn’t pick up all the debris.
2. Rake: Garden vacuums — either gas- or electric-powered — are popular among people anxious to keep a perfect yard. They suck up leaves and dirt, but that is the problem — dirt belongs in the yard. Instead consider raking the leaves and other debris, or simply leaving many of them where they fall. This can create healthy mulch or compost and you don’t have to send all those bags of vacuumed leaves to the landfill.