Identifying Landscaping Tools For Beginners: What They Look Like, What They Do And Why You Need Them


If you have decided to totally DIY your own landscaping, and you have never done anything close to landscape work or gardening, you may have that "deer in headlights" look right about now. There is likely an aisle and a wall dedicated to landscaping and garden tools at your nearest hardware or big box store. How are you supposed to choose what you need? Can you identify any of these tools and what they do, beyond calling something a shovel or hoe? Before you decide that you are in over your head, read the following information on landscaping tool identification, what they do and why you need them.

The Garden Spade

Commonly referred to as a "shovel," the garden spade typically has a long hardwood handle to resist pressure and breaking. The spade portion of the tool is often steel or a very thick, anti-rust/anti-corrosive metal so it can withstand the wetness of the ground. It essentially looks like the bottom half of a heart, without the two humps on top. The point on the end is almost always very sharp, and it will help you cut through some very tough soil or chop through the deep roots of weeds, bushes and trees. It also digs very precise holes, a feature which makes this tool invaluable to landscaping.

The Manual Tiller

Far cheaper than an electric- or gas-powered tiller, the manual tiller has a long wooden pole for a handle and about a half-dozen, very sharp tiller wheels on the working end. When you apply some upper body strength while pushing and pulling this tool over the ground, it pulverizes the soil and aerates it so that more nutrients can get to the layers below. It also makes the soil very smooth and soft, perfect for planting even the smallest perennials in your yard.

The Garden Trowel

This tool looks very much like the garden spade, except that the handle is significantly shorter and rarely is the handle on this tool ever made of wood. The "bowl" of the trowel is more elongated and narrower too, allowing for more precise and tinier holes to be made for littler plants and flowers. (A highly-specialized version of this tool is called the "bulb trowel" and it is extremely narrow and very long. It is meant to dig deep, quick, little holes into which you can drop flower bulbs.) You will need a garden trowel when a spade is just too big to dig and plant little things in your yard.