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Selecting Your Vertak Garden Tools I


Hand tools are among the best examples of time-tested design and environmentally friendly technology, helping us dig, cut, move, and gather without causing air or noise pollution. As long as there is sunlight to work by, you can get a lot done with just a pair of gardening gloves and a few well-chosen hand tools. Our choices for hand tools contribute as much to our success as gardeners. The right garden tools surely will help you to work efficiently and motivate you to complete a daunting planting project or maintenance task. The wrong tools, however, will force you to quit early in frustration, pain, or fatigue. Besides, the right tool will give its owner many years of reliable service, while the wrong tool will collect cobwebs in a dark corner of the garage.

When you are making a purchasing decision about any garden tool, ergonomic considerations should factor in prominently. While most high-quality tools are designed with the comfort and safety of the user in mind, gardeners come in many shapes and sizes, and not every tool fits every gardener. As you compare your options, measure the overall value of a tool by the quality of each of these factors, namely, construction, comfort, and cost.

While material considerations are largely a matter of preference, educate yourself on the options and treatments for metal components (carbon-steel blades, forged chromium steel heads, heat-treating, anti-rust coatings) and moving parts as well. Some people prefer the lightweight durability of fiberglass handles on rakes, shovels, and hoes, while others opt for wood. Usually, dried hardwoods such as white ash or beech are used for handle construction. If wood is your preference, make sure the surface is sealed or coated, with no raised spots that could turn into splinters with wear.

In addition to material composition, consider how the product is constructed. Evaluate the joins, welds, and attachment points that are used in the construction of the tool, especially at stress points, such as the head-to-handle connection on shovels. Look for blades, rake heads, or digging forks composed of a single piece of metal rather than joined pieces.

When mulling over the cost-to-quality aspect of your purchasing decision, consider how often you will use the tool. Hand pruners are a good place to spend your money on quality, since you are likely to pick them up and use them at least once every time you garden. Some garden tools, such as shovels, help you to accomplish a variety of garden tasks while others, such as the dandelion weeder, are designed to do just one thing well. If you don’t spend a lot of time removing deep-diving, tap-rooted weeds in your yard but regularly have lots of oak leaves to rake, you might opt for that less-expensive dandelion weeder and put the money you saved into a high-quality rake.