The Q&A Archives: Tips for Choosing Gardening Tools

Question: What features should one look for in a gardening tool that ensures the longest life span (i.e. structural features and materials)?

Answer: The first thing I look for is comfort. You're going to be spending a lot of time with these tools, so you need to make sure they work for you personally. I always hold and "play" a bit with a new tool before buying it. How about its weight? How does it feel in your hand? If it is a long-handled tool like a rake or shovel, is the handle long enough for you or will you have to bend over too much? If it's a pruner or shears, do they fit your hand well? Try out ergonomic tools that are designed to take the strain off your body, too.

After you've gotten that all straightened out in your mind, look at the price. Often you get what you pay for. A cheap tool cannot be expected to last. Is the metal substantial or thin? Has it been tempered for strength? If the handle is wooden, is it solid, without cracks or flaws? Is the blade of the shovel simply held on with crimped metal or by rivets or screws? Does the manufacturer or retailer offer a guarantee or warrantee? Are there replacement parts available? These are the main questions to keep in mind while shopping. Good luck!

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