ARE YOU FED UP WITH YARDS OF garden hose strewn all over the yard, plastic hose reels that hold up just long enough for the warranty to run out? To get a truly lasting hose, you probably think you have to buy one of those heavyweight multi-core hoses that are guaranteed not to kink, wear out, burst, or do magic tricks.
What if I told you there was a solution to this dilemma? What if I told you there was a choice between the red hose and the blue hose?
The RED hose weighs a lot, but it won't kink or burst and is hard to move around.
The BLUE hose is super-lightweight, still won't kink or burst, and can be rolled up into a small package you can carry with one hand.
If you are like most of us, then you probably gave serious consideration to the BLUE hose but, ended up going with the RED one. Why? Because the blue hose sounds too good to be true.
But, if you take a minute to look at the BLUE hose, you will find that what we are talking about, is the very latest in expandable hose technology. Far from those “As Seen on TV” products of a decade or two ago, modern expandable hoses have a lot to offer as long as you know what to look for when buying one.
You might think that the expandable hose is a modern invention. After all, it takes special materials and polymers to make an expandable hose, doesn't it? Today the answer to this would be yes, but no so far back in the annals of history. Some several thousands of years in history, the Greeks are known to have been the first ones to create an expandable hose.
Their hoses were made from animal intestines as part of the Greek War Machine. The Greek sailors would spray “Greek Fire” onto their enemies from these hoses, setting the sailors and their ships on fire. But, today using animal intestines like this might get you in a lot of trouble. So instead, we rely on modern technology to develop an expandable hose for us. Let's take a look at the construction of expandable hoses along with what you should be looking for when you are ready to buy your first expandable garden hose.
Today's expandable hose consists of an outer shell made from either a synthetic or cloth weave material. Inside is a latex hose made from a material that can expand up to 5 times its original size without bursting. The inner hose expands as it fills with water until it presses up against the outer casing.
Rubber hoses do not have the ability to shrink or expand, they are designed to be tough enough not to break or crack if they freeze or split and rupture when they get too hot. If you buy an inexpensive rubber hose, you end up one that collapses and kinks at the drop of a hat. Expandable hoses are designed not to kink or twist.
There are many different brands of expandable garden hose on the market, and each of them claims to use the best materials to create the finest expandable hose on the market. How much of that is true, we are going to look at. Because the materials used are the most important part of any expandable garden hose, let's start by taking a look at the different materials, their advantages, and disadvantages.
Today's expandable garden hose has an outer shell made from a woven polyester fabric. The term Deniers is used to measure the strength of the material being used. The measurement is based on the thickness of a single strand of silk. This measurement is used to describe most forms of natural and polyester fabric.
Obviously, the higher the denier count the less prone the material will be likely to rip, snag, tear, and damage caused the sun's UV rays. Most expandable hoses have an outer shell made from 500 Denier polyester. If you see a hose made from a material with less than a 500 Denier count, you may want to keep shopping. The benefit to using a cloth-like material is that it will expand and contract easily, allowing you to roll the hose into a small flat package.
There are two different types of inner core used in today's expandable garden hose, latex and TPC (thermoplastic copolyester). Each of which has their own advantages.
This type of inner core is crafted from natural latex and can be made in a single, double, or triple layer construction. The more cores the longer the hose is likely to last longer than most other types of hose. The layers are thin enough to remain completely flexible even when cold.
One thing to keep in mind, if the package or the listing doesn't say made from natural latex, you should assume
Thermoplastic copolyester is a man-made highly elastic and flexible material that is not only used to make hoses, it has many other uses. Manufacturers say it offers excellent heat resistance and high durability ratings.
One of the most common differences between the different expandable garden hoses is the number of layers the inner core is made from. You are likely to hear that a triple layer core is stronger and better than a double layer core. But, under independent testing, both appeared to be equally strong.
Layered latex is created by dipping an existing latex tube in molten latex and then letting it cool. The number of times it is dipped the higher the number of layers. Each layer is intended to add strength to the original pipe, but at the same time, each layer added reduces the amount of flexibility the finished product has.
Some manufacturers use a special type of polymer for the outer layer instead of more latex. Among the most common combinations is a latex core with thick outer PVC layers.
The good news is that all of the options make an excellent choice for your next expandable garden hose.
There are many great benefits to replacing your old rubber or PVC hoses with the latest in expandable garden hoses.
That's about it as far as cons go. Once these hoses were more of a joke than they were a useful product. Thanks to major advances in technology and materials, today's expandable garden hoses are well-worth investing in and will certainly take the strain off your back moving them around.
With all of this in mind, I took a look at many of the different expandable garden hoses out there before I chose the ones I am currently using. Here are my five picks for the best Expandable Garden Hoses available today.
This expandable garden hose features a double inner layer TPC core, brass fittings, and expands to 100 feet. This is three times its original length. The hose is extremely lightweight, making it easier for you to carry it around the yard. The included spray nozzle offers eight different spray patterns and comes with 2 spare rubber washers.
|Expands and contracts rapidly||Spray nozzle inexpensively made|
|Weighs only 4 lbs.||Some people have trouble getting it to expand|
|Expands to 100 feet|
This expandable garden hose starts out at 17 feet and expands to 50 feet when filled with water. Weighs an incredible 1.85 lbs. The inner core is made of latex and PVC and all fittings are made of brass. The hose is covered in a high-quality polyester cloth wrap for added strength. Comes with an 8-pattern spray nozzle, and a rust-free shutoff valve.
|Very lightweight at only 1.85 lbs.||Tends to kink|
|Strong polyester cloth outer protective layer.||Some issues with splitting|
|Comes with spray nozzle and shutoff valve||May not stay extended all the way|
The FlexiHose expandable garden hose is long enough to be convenient without being ridiculously long. It comes with 3/4″ solid brass fittings and a double latex inner core designed to handle water pressures up to 12 BARS. Collapsed size is only 17 feet, but it expands to 50 feet when filled. Comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee. Comes with an 8-pattern spray nozzle.
|Double latex inner layer for strength and durability||The inner liner has been found to leak after the first few months of use for some|
|Solid brass 3/4-inch fittings||Spray nozzle is of inferior quality|
|Lifetime free replacement warranty||Problems reaching full extension|
This expandable garden hose goes from 16 to 50 feet under pressure and will quickly return to its original size when you are done with it. The inner core is made from latex and is covered with a 5000D high-quality fabric outer shell. Fittings are solid brass for maximum durability. This expandable hose also comes with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.
|Latex inner core||Inner core prone to leaks|
|5000D outer layer||Nozzle under par|
|Lifetime warranty||Issues with it reaching full length|
This FitLife expandable garden hose is available in four different sizes, 25, 50, 75, 100foott lengths. It features the strongest triple latex inner core, solid brass fittings. The 3/4-inch inner diameter provides you with plenty of kink free water. Comes with an 8-position spray nozzle. Burst-tested to 145 PSI/10 Bar and endurance tested for 1100 to 1200 uses to ensure quality.
|Triple latex inner core||Tends to cause pressure loss|
|Solid brass fittings||Does not reach full extension|
|Pressure tested to 145 PSI/ 10 Bar||Tends to shrink during use|
Can't think of a single reason why you would want one, after all the good things expandable garden hoses have to offer. But, here is one you might find fits in with your needs and tastes.
Water Right 400 Series Polyurethane Slim & Light Drinking Water Safe Garden Hose
This non-expandable garden hose is made from FDA and NSF certified polyurethane resin. This means you can use it to water your garden or to supply you with drinking water. It contains no BPA, lead, Phthalates, or any other form of toxic chemical. All brass fittings and remains flexible in sub-freezing temperatures. This hose can also handle hot water to 140°F.
|NSF and FDA certified|
|Lightweight polyurethane resin|
|Contains no toxic materials|
Or in this case, maybe not a kink at all. Expandable garden hoses are more than worth the cost but, be prepared as few of them perform quite as well as advertised. Yet they are still better than lugging a heavy-duty rubber hose all over your yard. I hope this information helps you find the right hose for your garden needs. Have information you would like to see here, drop me a line here and I might add it. Don't forget to tell your friends if you like what you see.
IF YOUR HOUSE HAS ANY lawn around it all, one of the most important tools you can have in your garden shed, is a good lawn mower. If you are like me, you are probably old enough to remember the old “push” mower whose blades only turned as fast as you pushed the mower. Talk about making for long hot and sweaty summer days. Today, most of us are turning to Lawn self-propelled lawn mowers that take most of the hard work out of keeping our lawns under control.
For this section, I am going to assume that you know that a self-propelled lawn mower uses a transmission or belt to connect the drive wheels to the engine. This makes it possible for you to simply walk behind the mower controlling the direction of travel without having to push the mower along. To engage the transmission, most self-propelled lawn mowers have a lever on the handle that you squeeze. Then the mower will move forward slowly under its own power.
This is a big question for those who are buying a self-propelled lawn mower for the first time. If you are blessed with a nice flat yard, a front-wheel drive mower might be your best choice. But, if you have a yard with lots of ups and downs and lots of corners to navigate, you might find a front-wheel drive model harder to handle. Rear wheel drive mowers are a better choice as they tend to be easier to maneuver. Also note, that if you plan on bagging your trimmings, a Image courtesy Gardenlines rear-wheel drive makes a better option as the added weight is on the back wheels, adding more traction without affecting your ability to maneuver the mower around your yard.
When it comes to wheels, you may have already noticed that mowers come with all sizes of wheel. Big ones, little one, and some in between. Those with smaller wheels are ideal for yards that are nice and flat. But if you have a yard with lots of bumps and uneven ground, you should consider buying a mower with larger wheels, they will make it much easier for you to maneuver around your yard.
At the same time, you might want to consider how the wheel height adjustment is made. Some models use a lever at each wheel, others use a single lever that adjusts all four wheels at the same time. If you don't plan to make too many height adjustments, the style of adjuster may not matter. But on the other hand, if you have to constantly change heights as you mow your property, you may find the single-lever style makes a better choice.
Today there are three different styles of cutting blade available for self-propelled lawn mowers. These are mowing, mulching, and bagging. Few mowers come with a straight mowing blade today as consumers tend to be more interested in combination blades. The best blades are those that combine all three features into a single blade. The mowers equipped with these blades have a bag on the back with a closeable flap and a removable plug on the side that a discharge chute can be attached to. If you leave the flap down and the plug in place, you have a mulching mower. If you have never used one before, you may find you fall in love with a mulching mower as it makes clean up a breeze and provides your lawn with much needed nutrition.
Gone are the days of noisy two-stroke engines, mixing oil and gas, and endless stinky polluting exhaust fumes. Today's self-propelled lawn mowers come with your choice of four-stroke gasoline engines or cordless electric motors. While gasoline powered models may more powerful and a better choice for those with large lawns, smaller cordless models have their own uses. Today, you may find you have to check with your municipality and HOA as gasoline powered garden equipment is being banned in favor of electric (corded) and cordless equipment.
Just like buying a new car, when you set out to buy a new self-propelled lawn mower, there are many available options you might want to consider adding.
So now that you have an idea of what you should be looking for and thinking about in your search for a new self-propelled lawn mower, let's take a look at five of the top-rated models on the market.
The Honda HRX offers an innovativedrives system Honda calls Smart Drive® designed to offer better overall speed control. With a twist of the dial you can adjust the speed from 0 to 4 mph. Along with this, you get electric start, micro-cut twin blades, and a Clip Director that lets you bag, mulch, shred leaves, or discharge. Honda is the only company to offer the NeXite® deck. The GCV190 187cc engine has more than enough power for most yards.
|One of the most powerful engines||A little on the loud side|
|2.5-bushell clipping bag||A little on the heavy side|
|Micro-cut blade provides a nice even cut||Controls can be a bit confusing|
This Troy-Bilt self-propelled lawn mower features a 159cc OHV engine and front-wheel drive. The231-inch deck and lightweight design makes this mower an excellent choice for small and medium sized yards. The dual-lever design makes choosing one of the three heights for better mulching, bagging or side discharging. Comes with a 1.9-bushell clipping bag. The handle has been ergonomically comfortable for those long days of mowing.
|Easy to assemble||Low bag capacity of only 1.9 bushels|
|Lightweight, only 80 lbs.||Lots of plastic parts|
|Easy speed adjustment||Front-wheel drive looses traction going up hills|
Imagine buying a lawn mower from a company that offers you a guarantee that your mower will start within two pullsonf the starter rope. This Poulan mower offers you mulch, bag, and discharge options. The four height adjusters offer nine settings and the 22-inch cut is big enough for most lawns. Features 12 -inch wheels in the rear and 8-inch wheels up front, perfect for most mowing conditions. Powered by a 150cc Briggs & Stratton Auto Choke engine.
|Powerful engine||Lowering mechanism must be fixed manually|
|Large wheels for better maneuverability||Some quality control issues|
|3 in 1 cutting capabilities|
Powered by a Honda 160cc 4cycle OHV engine, this self-propelled lawn mower from Husqvarna offers a 22-inch steel deck designed with side discharge, mulching, and bagging capability. The Auto walk drive system lets you control mowing speed. For smoother operation and durability both front and rear wheels ride on ball bearings. The handle has three positions allowing you to set the height to match your own. This mower offers Low-wheel, High-Wheel, and All-Wheel drive options.
Image courtesy Amazon
|Auto choke makes for easy starting||Noisy|
|Auto walk system offers exceptional traction||Lots of plastic parts|
|Easy to maneuver||The wheels lock up when you pull it backwards|
With so many mowers coming equipped with Briggs & Stratton or Honda motors, it's refreshing to see Lawn-Boy opting to go with a Kohler engine. This 149cc engine is so highly thought of that Lawn-Boy has a warranty that states if the mower doesn't start within two pulls, they will fix it for free. Like most self-propelled lawn mowers, this one offers side discharge, mulch, and bagging capabilities. There are only two height adjustments, which may not be enough for every yard.
|Rear-wheel drive||Some issues with setup|
|Guaranteed easy start||Will not cut very short grass|
|Large wheels offer better control & maneuverability||Hard to pull back|
One of the best things about this Greenworks self-propelled lawn mower is that it has a 19-inch steel cutting deck. Along with the standard three cutting options, this mower is designed to cover a large area in a short time, helping you to get the most out of the battery. The cool thing is that you get two batteries to extend your mowing time.
|Eco-friendly||Only for small to medium lawns|
|Long-life powerful lithium ion battery||Will not cut very short grass|
|Large wheels offer better control & maneuverability||Issues with battery life|
The Final Cut
I hope all of the information I have gathered together helps you make the right choice when you are ready to buy your next self-propelled mower. I am a firm believer in doing my homework before spending my money, so I hope that my research helps. If you like what you have read here, please let me know. If you know of anything you would like to see included, please contact me here.
HAVE YOU TRIED TO MIX a large batch or mortar using a shovel, regular garden hoe or even a trowel? Pretty tough, isn't it? A good mortar hoe will make the job much easier and significantly reduce the strain on your body.
Although they are quite a niche product, mortar hoes will help with cement, and concrete. You can also mix through fertilizer through soil to create that perfect potting mix.
Just like any other tool in the garden shed, having the right mortar hoe can make all the difference in the world. And I especially recommend them for people with bad backs as mortar hoes eliminate most of the bending over in the mixing process.
The mortar hoe is not much different from a garden hoe in that it has no moving parts and if you buy the right one, will provide you with many years of service. These parts are the handle, the hoe blade, and the way in which the head is mounted to the handle.
Much like the standard garden hoe, the head or blade of the mortar hoe is the most important piece of the puzzle. A blade made from the wrong materials or that is improperly designed will not take away from your workload. Instead, it may actually add to the workload and make mixing a spreading mortar that much harder.
Mortar hoe handles come in a wide range of lengths from 24 inches long to 66 inches long and more. When choosing a mortar hoe, be sure the handle you choose is long enough for the job you have in mind and that it feels good in your hands and is not likely to cause a problem if you have to use your hoe for a long time.
Handles are made from aluminum, fiberglass, and aluminum, each of which has their advantages and disadvantages. For example, wood may flex a little but can stand up to a lot of flex before breaking. Fiberglass is very lightweight, but it is more flexible and may shatter under a heavy load. Aluminum is lightweight and flexible but may bend when being used for heavy work.
Handles also come in straight and “D” handle designs, both of which work well. Your decision should be based on which of these designs work best for you and the job you have in mind.
Bear in mind that mortar hoes can be used for a wide range of projects beyond simply mixing and smoothing out mortar. You can use this type of hoe to mix concrete, mix things like sphagnum peat moss into your soil, mixing sand into your soil, or even mixing small rocks and gravel together and spreading them out.
One of the biggest issues with mortar hoes is the possibility of the head pulling away from the handle, which makes it really hard to mix or spread the mortar (trust me there is nothing worse than having to retrieve the head of your hoe from the middle of a freshly mixed batch of whatever you're mixing). Look for hoes with heads that are riveted or bolted in place.
Heads also come in various widths and heights based on the type of work they are designed to do, all the way up to those with heads over 12 inches wide for smoothing out large areas of work. In fact, you might find that you need several different mortar hoes to get everything you need to get the job at hand done right.
While most mortar hoes come with steel heads, not all heads are created the same. Some are much thicker than others. Beware of heads made from thin gauge steel as they are likely to bend and break, whereas those made from thicker steel will hold up to heavy work more effectively and are less likely to rust or fall apart.
With all of this in mind, let's take a look at 5 of the top mortar hoes for you to consider in your search for the right one for the job you have in mind.
Not only does this mortar hoe come with an extra-thick 12-gauge head, it also features a triple-wall fiberglass handle for added durability. The fiberglass handle is reinforced with 14-gauge steel, it also features an extended length ferrule beam supports to help keep the head firmly fixed in place. The two large holes make using this hoe to mix mortar or cement far easier than if you were to use a shovel or standard garden hoe.
|24-gauge steel head||A single rivet holds the head in place|
|14-gauge steel extended length ferrules||Steel-reinforced fiberglass handle heavy|
|Rubber grip at top of handle|
This mortar hoe features a 66-inch long natural hardwood handle that has just enough flexibility to take some of the strain out of mixing. The head is formed from a single piece of forged carbon steel for added durability. Two large holes in the blade make mixing mortar, cement, and concrete easier. The steel ferrule is riveted to head to keep it solidly in place. This is a contractor grade tool that definitely lives up to its reputation.
|Carbon-steel head||Single rivet in ferrule may fail under load|
|Hardwood handle||Sharp corners leave mix in wheelbarrow|
|Perforated blade for easy mixing||Heavy|
This tough as nails mortar hoe features a 1-piece forged steel head for superior strength and maximum durability. The 54-inch long North American ash hardwood handle has just the right amount of flex to be comfortable while you work. Like all good mortar hoes, the dual perforated holes are perfectly placed to make mixing your mortar or cement easier. The handle and head are pinned together to ensure the head stays in place.
|1-piece forged head||Handle may be short for taller people|
|Solid ash handle||Wood handle may split if left out in rain|
|Handle and head pinned together|
They say good things often come in small packages, and this mortar hoe is a good example of this old saying. The 21-inch hardwood handle is perfect for working in smaller areas where precision is needed. Like full-size hoes, this one features dual holes for ease of mixing. The long tang and steel ferrule are designed to help keep the head firmly fixed in place. It is perfect for mixing mortar or cement in wheelbarrow thanks to the shorter handle.
|Strong steel blade||Not for big jobs|
|Hardwood handle||Head is not riveted or bolted to the handle|
|Long tang and steel ferrule|
For those who need a little more control, this D-handle mortar hoe might be just what you need. The 18-inch hardwood handle with a sturdy D-shaped handle lets you take more control when mixing and finishing. The head is forged from a single piece of carbon steel and is held in the steel ferrule with rivets for added strength and durability. The black powder finish will help protect the metal from corrosion.
|18-inch hardwood handle with D grip||Rivets may come loose|
|Holes for easy mixing||Paint may not protect from corrosion|
|D-grip offers better control|
When all you need is to mix up a bucket of mortar this tool and a strong 1/2-inch chuck drill will whip up a 5-gallon bucket of mortar in a hurry. The corkscrew lifts the dry mortar up from the bottom of the bucket to the top for a smoother and faster blend. The foam-covered handle features oiled bearings for smoother operation.
|Power mixing = less hard work||You must have a 1/2″ chuck electric drill|
|Mix four gallons of dry pack in 30 seconds||Can be hard to handle at first|
|Oil-impregnated bronze bearings in handle||Can only mix four gallons at a time|
For my money (since that's all I have to spend), the Bully Tools 92360 is the clear winner. While it is a little on the heavy side, but I didn't mind the extra weight since I didn't have to worry about it breaking or bending. I also love the heavy-duty steel blade that doesn't give when I am mixing a wheelbarrow full of fresh cement. This mortar hoe meets all the needs I listed up above. It has a strong blade, a strong handle, and is made to last. I have one of these in my shed along with the Bucket Mortar Mixer for the small jobs.
I hope that the information above has taught you something about what to look for when you go out shopping for the best mortar hoe. Find one that meets everything above and feels good in your hands and you have a winner.
A Garden Hoe is about the most basic and probably the most useful gardening tool you will own
OF ALL THE GARDEN TOOLS you are ever likely to buy, the simple garden hoe is probably going to be the most basic and yet one of the most useful. Buying the right one for the job will cut down on the amount of effort one needs for those tough, physical jobs.. Buying the wrong one can lead to a lot of extra, unnecessary hard work and effort, while often not letting you achieve the results you were after.
But like many garden tools, there is an array of different brands and styles on the market. Making finding the right one can be a bit challenging. Don't believe me? Take a good look in my garden shed at the various hoes I have tried out.
Truly, there is nothing difficult about the garden hoe. The basic hoe consists of a blade and a handle, nothing more, nothing less. The only true variances are the design of the blade, how it is mounted to the handle and the type of handle.
The blade is the most important part of any garden hoe. If the one you choose has a dull blade or one that won't keep an edge, you are wasting your time. A good garden hoe should have a blade that:
Is made from high-quality steel
Will hold an edge for cutting into the ground and cutting weeds
Wont bend easily
Will not rust away in a matter of years
Is shaped to make the task you have in mind as easy as possible
A good garden hoe should have a handle that is comfortable and easy to hold onto. They come in aluminum, fiberglass, and wood. Hardwood doesn't not have a lot of flex, making it a good choice (and the most popular) for chopping out weeds. Fiberglass may be lighter, but it tends to have more flex, making it harder to use. Those few with aluminum handles tend to bend when subjected to heavy chopping actions. A good hoe handle should:
Flex slightly to absorb the shock of being used with a chopping motion
Be long enough to be comfortable for you to use
Have a finish that protects it from the elements
Be bolted or riveted to the head
No one could blame you for thinking all garden hoes are the same. However, there are several different styles, including variations on the traditional design that you might find makes your job a bit easier. The type of hoe you choose should be based on the type of work you plan to use it.
This style of garden hoe can be found in use all over Europe, Asia, and Africa. The thick upright blade is made to cut through unbroken soil and for heavy-duty weeding chores. They tend to be rather heavy and have a short handle that forces you to bend over or stoop to use them. Most have a hardwood handle because this type of handle is hard to break. There are a few out there with fiberglass handles, but you may find the added flex overshadows the lower weight.
This type of hoe has a blade that is sharpened on both edges so that it can cut into the dirt and weeds whether you are pushing it or pulling on it. This style is considered to one of the most efficient and best garden hoes on the market today.
The one pictured above is often referred to as a stirrup hoe because it looks just like the stirrup on a horse saddle. The newer versions have the blade mounted on a pivot so that you don't have to change the angle of cut manually for the best results.
The draw hoe may, in fact, be the most well-known and common form of garden hoe on the market. Of all the different designs, the "American Pattern" hoe is the single most common.
This hoe features a blade that measures 6 inches wide by five inches deep, making it ideal for a wide range of tasks out in the garden. Some have the blade angled slightly back to make cutting into the ground and chopping off weeds a little easier.
Image courtesy of Daphman.Com
Simply put, this type of garden hoe has a sharp edge on the front of the blade that lets you cut weeds off by pushing the hoe in front of you. Here in the U.S., the most common sizes are a six or seven-inch wide blade. These hoes are made for cutting down weeds, they are not for chopping into the soil or even trying to loosen the soil. But, if your garden is already planted and the soil is not too packed, they can come in handy when you need to take care of the weeding.
Okay, so I am going to do something a little different here. Instead of simply picking out five of the best garden hoes I could find without regard to cost, I am going to show you the best ones at specific price levels. Should be fun and will also help you to see what's really out there.
When it comes to the cheapest garden hoes, you will find the only ones worth looking at are the short handled ones made for getting down on your knees and working around your plants.
This little garden hoe features a high-grade carbon steel blade that has been powder-coated for maximum corrosion protection. The strong bend-proof handle lets you chop into compacted soil easily and makes it much easier to work in rocky soil. It features a super soft PVC handle that will absorb the shock of chopping into hard ground and the ergonomic grip will help to relieve some of the strain to your hand.
|Ergonomic PVC grip for comfort and control||Grip has to be rotated 180° for it to be right|
|Non-bending handle for hard chopping||Blade bends|
|High-grade carbon steel blade||Blade is dull but can be sharpened|
This hoe starts out with a 6-onch wide head made from flat-forged steel that has a serrated edge for faster weed cutting. Add to this a hardwood handle that measures a full 54-inches long and features a cushioned grip that cuts down on fatigue and gives you a good grip. It is perfect for chopping into compacted soil and cutting down tough weeds.
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|Hardwood handle||May not cut deep into soil|
|Flat forged steel head for added strength||Head connecting shaft may bend|
|Serrated cutting edge for faster weeding||Forged steel is subject to rust|
The last thing anyone wants to do is lose their garden hoe in the dark recesses of the garden shed (can't tell you how many times I have done this). This garden hoe from Bully Tools has a bright red fiberglass handle that is made from commercial grade fiberglass to last a lifetime. The head is made from extra-thick 12-gauge steel for added strength. To ensure the handle remains attached to head, this hoe features an extended steel ferrule.
|12-gauge steel head||72-inch long handle might not be good for shorter people|
|Commercial grade fiberglass handle||This hoe is heavy|
|Bright red color makes it easy to find||Blade must be sharpened before use|
While you may not be able to sink your next put with this oddly shaped 7-inch wide hoe, you can definitely move some dirt. As you can see in the image, all three sides of the blade are sharpened, making it much easier to break open new ground or turn the dirt over in between your rows. This hoe features a solid ash handle that is 54-inches long and offers exceptional balance. The thin head comes with a lifetime warranty.
|Thin head is sharpened on three sides||Could use a heavier head for better groundbreaking|
|Long-lasting ash handle||One of the more expensive hoes on the market|
|Balanced for superior comfort||Edges tend to dull easily but can be sharpened|
If you are looking to add a scuffle hoe to your tool inventory, this one from Rogue might be just what the garden doctor ordered. All three sides are super sharp to help cut through the soil and weeds with the greatest of ease. The blade is made from high-grade tempered steel to ensure it keeps an edge for a very long time. The 54-inch hardwood handle creates a perfect balance for ease of handling when pushing or pulling this hoe.
|Three ultra-sharp edges||Handles tend to be a bit on the rough side|
|Cuts when pushing or pulling||Will spoil you for using any other type of hoe|
|Perfectly balanced hardwood handle||Edge may dull|
This garden hoe from Prohoe Rogue may be the best all-around hoe you can buy for the money, You can push it, pull it, use it to dig, and more. The heavy gauge steel blade is sharpened on all three sides to make weeding and digging easy. The extra-long 60-inch handle gives you more leverage and room to reach deeper in between the plants to where the weeds are hiding. The three-prong design at the back lets you rake up the weeds and any other garbage in your garden.
|Can be pulled or pushed and used for digging||Blade may dull|
|Extra-long hardwood handle for added strength||Not for large grassy areas or wide trails|
|Head comes with a lifetime warranty||Sharp edge can make safe storage challenging|
Okay so if spending a few hours in the garden with your trusty hoe doesn't sound like much fun, try this instead.
This propane powered backpack weed burner comes complete with its own 10 lb. tank and is ready to light and go once you fill the tank. Not only can you use this unit to take care of those pesky weeds out in your garden, you can also use it to thaw frozen pipes, melt snow and ice, and strip paint. It really can do all of this and more.
|Burns everything in its path||Burns everything in its path|
|Multiple uses beyond weeds||May burn your plants if you are not very careful|
|Easy to use||Not for use in crowded gardens|
If you have any information you would like to see here, please contact us here.
Garden forks are an underrated basic garden tool that can do many jobs easier than a shovel
THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT types of out there vying to be the best garden fork. Many of which, look very similar. So how do you tell which one is right for you?
Not only are there standard garden forks, but there are also job specific ones. There is a fork for pulling out potatoes, spreading and moving hay, digging, and composting to name just a few. With so many different forks available (I will cover these later), let's concentrate on how to find the best garden fork for you to use in your home garden.
As with any tool purchase, there are questions you need to ask yourself before you rush out and buy a garden fork or order one online.
Garden forks are better than shovels and spades for moving mulch, compost, straw etc.
What type of work are you planning to do? Do you need a heavy duty digging fork for clearing the land and preparing it for planting or do you just need one to keep the soil turned over?
The last thing you want when you have a lot of garden space to work with is a small fork that has you doing double the work to turn the soil over. You might also be able to get away with a less expensive fork if you don't need to use it as much
Using a garden fork for a long time can get tiresome
The bigger the fork, the heavier it is likely to be. Choose a fork you will be able to use for what could be several hours at a time. While not exactly necessary, a cushioned handle might also be worth looking at. It really all depends on how many hours you plan to use your garden fork for in a given period of time.
One of the first thoughts through most gardener's minds when looking at simple hand tools such as garden forks is to try and spend as little money as possible on them.
When it comes to most garden tools, including forks, the last thing you want to do is waste your money on a cheap fork that is going to bend or break the first time you use it. A good quality garden manual garden tool should last you a lifetime.
The tines and head are perhaps the most important part of a good garden fork. For general purpose usage, your best bet is a digging fork with a forged steel head. The forged steel is not likely to bend or break under normal usage (all forks will bend if you overwork them).
Your best choice is a garden fork with a head and tines that have been forged from a single piece of high-carbon steel. There are a number of aluminum alloy forks on the market which are great for light-duty work. But, I would not recommend them for general purpose gardening work as they tend to bend easily, especially those with a high percentage of aluminum in the alloy.
If you plan to use your garden fork for digging or turning the soil over, round tines are not going to get the job done. Your garden fork needs the ability to act like a spade or shovel to a certain extent.
Look for a garden fork that has flat-faced tines. These will make it much easier for you to lift and turn the soil, aerate it, mixing in manure or compost, and digging up root veggies or potatoes. However, if you plan to use your fork for harvesting potatoes or root crops a purpose-made fork with blunt tips is a better choice.
The most common garden fork has four tines, which is more than enough. Some digging forks have several more, but they are thinner and blunt on the end to be used for harvesting, not real digging.
The right handle can make all the difference in the world. While a long handle can reduce the amount of effort you need to expend, in most cases, it will simply get in the way. The standard 30-inch long handle is ideal for most applications.
Like most garden tools, you can choose a hardwood, fiberglass, or steel handle. Wood, typically a hardwood such as ash is your best choice. This type of handle has a little give in it, letting you work heavier loads or dig up compressed soil without breaking and it's not too heavy.
Most fiberglass handles are lightweight, which is good until you have some heavy digging to do. In this case, you might find they flex too much and may break or shatter. Fiberglass handles are okay for light duty work, but not recommended for heavier tasks.
Steel handles tend to be pretty heavy and prone to rust unless they are coated in some form of resin. The good thing is that it is almost impossible to break steel handles, the bad news is that forks with steel handles tend to be expensive.
T or D shaped. Or maybe round or straight? Handle shape is more a matter of personal taste. Myself, I prefer a fork with a D-Handle because I find them easier to control and use. T-handles are okay but tend to break more easily and in my opinion, are harder to use. Keep in mind that the cheaper forks use cheap plastic for the handles that can easily break under heavy or continuous use.
Although this fork has seen its fair share of compost, it works as well as the day it was bought
There are several ways in which garden forks are assembled.
Many older wood-handled forks were made with the heat and insert method. This method involved heating the metal collar of the head until it was red-hot, inserting the handle into the sleeve, and then plunging it into cold water. This would instantly shrink the metal sealing it to the handle. Over time the handle can work loose.
A much better choice is to buy a garden fork that has the head riveted or bolted in place so that you can tighten it up as necessary (all of mine have bolts).
Fiberglass handles may be riveted, bolted, or even pressed into the collar with a locking ring. The riveted and bolted styles hold up well, but again the pressed in style tend to work loose over time.
When it comes to steel-handled forks, while some may be riveted or bolted together, many come as one single piece (head and handle) of forged steel. With this type of fork, you have to consider the weight versus how you plan to use it. The only thing you really have to worry about with a one-piece steel fork is whether or not you can bend the handle.
The Radius garden fork will strike you as different the moment you lay eyes on the “O” shaped handle. This revolutionary shape was chosen for its ability to reduce both hand and wrist stress. The material is non-slip and the handle is big enough for both hands (even big hands like mine). The stainless-steel head has four super-sharp tines that will penetrate even the most stubborn soil and the resin-encased steel shaft won't bend or break.
|Stainless-steel head with 4 sharp diamond shape tines||Tines are brittle and may break off|
|Solid steel shaft for superior strength||Handle can take some getting used to|
|O-shaped handle for added comfort||Less than stellar customer service|
Looking for a good garden fork that acts like a spade and comes with a solid ash handle? This one from Truper comes up roses. The D-grip is very comfortable and gives you much better control than you are likely to see in many other “digging” forks. The gray steel head features 4 tines and is clear coated for added protection. The tines are nice and sharp for those times when you need to dig through hard or compacted dirt.
|Comfortable D-Grip handle||Tines are brittle and may break|
|Sharp points on tines help with tough jobs||Quality control issues|
|Ash handle is made to last||Not for heavy duty use|
At 47 inches long this garden fork from Fiskars is not quite a pitchfork but it might as well be. If you are looking for a fork that is a little longer (I like this one because at 6'4″ tall short forks give me a backache). It comes with a classic “D” style handle for maximum control and a welded boron steel head and shaft for durability. The handle has been angled to help reduce strain and fatigue. While the tines are pointed, they are not as sharp as some brands, which slows down the process of digging compacted soil.
|Welded boron steel head and shaft||Tines could be sharper|
|Extra-long handle||Hollow shaft feels weak|
|Angle D-grip for comfort and ergonomics||Tines bend under heavy usage|
Made by Ames, this garden fork is made with a forged steel head that has four long tines with sharp points. The broad tines make turning over soil a breeze while the sharp points ensure you can sink this fork into the hardest ground with ease. The head is made from long-lasting diamond steel. Comes with a 30-inch hardwood handle for less flex and more control. The bright yellow poly “D” handle offers superior control.
|4 Diamond steel tines||Poly handle has too much flex|
|Hardwood handle||Narrow area for foot|
|Poly D handle for better control||Tines are thin and subject to bending|
The Spear & Jackson Company has been building superior quality garden tools in Sheffield, England since 1766 and still uses the same traditional craftsmanship they have been using for over 250 years. This is a traditional English style digging fork with a polished steel head that features four long sharp tines. The hardwood handle is double riveted onto the hardwood handle. The shaft is split at the top to form the wishbone handle and the whole thing is sealed against the elements.
|One-piece hardwood shaft||Handle may break where it goes into fork head|
|Polished steel tines for rust-resistance||Steel not made in England|
|Lightweight and easy to use||Steel will rust|
Not everyone wants to use a garden fork to dig their gardens. Some people prefer to use a spade to dig in a new garden or turn over the soil in their existing one. To be honest, I have a couple of different spades in the shed I use for certain jobs.
This square garden spade is perfect for cutting your garden in, edging, cutting through turf, turning over soil and more. It features and extra-large “D” handle for big hands and better control. The 18-gauge steel shaft and 14-gauge blade are hardened for maximum strength and durability. The shaft won't flex like a fiberglass one and the blade is sharp enough to cut through sod and soil easily.
|Hardened steel shaft and blade||Handle is only attached with a single screw|
|Extra-large “D” handle||Blade is too flexible|
|Nice sharp blade||Blade prone to rust|
With so many different brands and models to choose from, picking the best garden forks is not an easy task. As for me, I chose the Radius Garden Pro for my main garden fork. Now that I have finally gotten used to the “O” shaped handle, I love it. I have yet to break or bend any of the tines and have been using it for a couple of years.
One last thought, go out to your local discount home DIY store and try a few to see what type of handle you like, how long you need the handle to be, and of course which one feels best to you.
Thanks for reading my guide on finding the best garden fork for homeowners. Any comments or questions, please contact me here.
What type of sprinkler best suits your lawn and garden?
AS MUCH AS I LOVE my gardens, I am not too fond of standing around with hose in hand trying to water it. Using a hand nozzle or the wrong type of sprinkler can leave some spots in your garden too dry and others flooded.
Neither of which is going to do your veggies much good. The best way to deal with this is with a little bit of research on finding the best garden sprinkler to fit your specific needs....
A stationary sprinkler in action
These sprinklers can be used to spread large amounts of water over a specified area of your garden. You can buy a range of different styles that distribute the water based on the pattern of holes in the sprinkler head.
If you have areas of your garden that require frequent heavy watering such as your corn patch, squash, and watermelons. The only bad thing about this type of sprinkler is that you need to keep a close eye on and be prepared to move it frequently so that you don't over-water.
This type of sprinkler has a long metal (or plastic) tube that oscillates back and forth providing a wide spray pattern that can be used to cover a large area. Because the water spray quite high, this type of sprinkler is ideal for taller plants.
The spray is gentle enough to be used on young plants and freshly planted seeds. However, because the water sprays so high, it tends to evaporate on hot days and blow away in the wind.
Just like it sounds, these sprinklers move the water around your garden when the weighted lever hits the anvil. They put out a strong stream of water that can spray over a long distance.
You can adjust the length of the spray along with how much of a circle is covered. The typical range of movement runs from 15 to 360 degrees. Many allow you to adjust the stream width to cover a little more area. But, you need to be careful as the powerful stream of water can damage small plants.
Image Courtesy of ORBIT
This type of sprinkler uses a number of arms to spray water over your lawn or garden. The jets of water are set in such a way as to make the sprinkler head rotate for maximum coverage.
You can use this type of sprinkler to cover larger areas. It may be the best garden sprinkler style for larger areas and for smaller plants as the spray of water is quite gentle.
Image Courtesy of Nelson
Better known as the "tractor" sprinkler for obvious reasons, these sprinklers are designed to move in a set pattern driven by the water as it enters the sprinkler. They are perfect for watering large areas of lawn without requiring much in the way of supervision. However, they are not much use in a garden as the soft soil will hinder their movement as will the presence of virtually every plant in it.
The most important things to remember when looking at garden sprinklers are that one size does not fit all and you may need more than one type of sprinkler to get the job done. Here are five quick questions you need to ask before you start shopping.
How big is your garden?
Do you need to concentrate the watering on specific areas or are you trying to cover a large area?
Do you have areas of the garden where the water needs to reach directly into the soil?
Are there different types of soil in your garden that require different amounts of water such as sand or clay?
Is your garden flat or does it sit on a slope or is it an unusual shape?
There are a few other things you need to think about as you search for a top garden sprinkler to meet your needs. These include:
Water efficiency (Ongoing Cost)
Quality of materials (Durability)
Given the high cost of water in most areas of the country, any sprinkler you buy for your garden needs to make maximum use of every drop of water. This is why you may find it necessary to buy more than one type of sprinkler as each design has its good and bad points.
Large agricultural water sprayers like this are one of the best way for farmers to efficiently use water
If you walk into the average department store, garden supply store, or discount DIY superstore, you are likely to find the vast majority of the garden sprinklers they have for sale are made mostly of plastic, it is getting harder to find quality all-metal sprinklers, but you will find the search and additional cost well worth it.
Plastic sprinklers have one major problem, they tend to have a short lifespan. They are easily broken, may warp if left out in the sun, and often are of inferior quality. This means you could end up with a dud sprinkler that lets you down right in the middle of growing season.
Having said this, good metal garden sprinklers tend to be more expensive. However, they are a ot more durable and last longer. They also are not going to break due to the heat and UV rays of the sun. All of this combines to make them a much better choice as you are likely to see a much higher return on your investment.
I know some of my neighbors who have these old ugly metal sprinklers they have been using for 20+ years!
Now that you have a good basic idea of the different types, let's take a quick look at the various features to consider.
You need to choose a sprinkler that will provide your garden with the proper coverage. Choose one that covers the most ground possible as this will save you from needing to move your sprinkler multiple times to cover the entire garden.
There is no point in buying a sprinkler that doesn't put enough water down on your garden. Sprinklers like this require you to leave them turned on for far too long, which in turn may leave you unable to cover the entire garden in a single day.
Again, this has to do with how much of your garden will be covered in a single watering. Look for a sprinkler that has distance adjustments that can be made right at the sprinkler head rather than relying on adjusting the water pressure. Not only is this more accurate, but it allows you to still get the maximum amount of water to your plants.
If you plan to buy an impact type sprinkler, it must have some form of rotation adjustment. This lets you decide which part of the garden is watered. It will also let you water the whole area to the desired water level and then cut the amount of rotation down for the area that needs a deeper watering.
Unless you plan to buy a very cheap plastic garden sprinkler (I tried this once, much to my regret), you need to pay close attention to the quality of those you are interested in. A good sprinkler can be relatively expensive (especially all-metal ones). But a good metal sprinkler should provide you with many years of reliable service and prove to be an excellent investment.
While most sprinklers (including plastic ones) have a brass hose fitting, there are a few that use a plastic fitting instead. While a plastic fitting might not seem to be a problem, wait until the first time you manage to step on the hose right by the connection and see if it is still a good idea.
Always choose a sprinkler that comes with a brass fitting for maximum lifespan and durability.
Even if you do invest in a good metal garden sprinkler, you may find that it comes with plastic gears or drives. (most do). This is where it really pays to spend a little more money.
If you can, find a sprinkler that still uses metal gears or drives. This way if something stops the head from rotating, the gears aren't likely to strip and leave you with a useless sprinkler.
Garden sprinklers are for the most part very simple in design. In fact, you are likely to find that the simpler ones cause less hassle as you can set them in place, turn them on, and forget them until it's time to move them or turn them off.
The most important thing to remember is that investing in a more expensive quality sprinkler will save you money in the long run. These sprinklers also tend to do a much better job, which will help your garden grow.
Here are the top garden sprinklers. One in each category.
NOTE: At the end of this section I let you know which of the top garden sprinklers I have in my shed
This is perhaps the simplest all-metal garden sprinkler available. It puts out a nice round pattern of water that can reach up to 30 feet in diameter.
The metal construction makes this one virtually indestructible. Plus, it is designed to work with low water pressure.
This style of sprinkler is also available with a square or rectangular pattern.
|Low-cost||Lightweight design can flip over easily|
|Zero maintenance||Rectangular pattern can make it hard to determine best water volume|
|Good coverage even with low water pressure||Unless you have serious water pressure coverage may be less than advertised|
Presenting a new twist on a timeless sprinkler design. This one uses sliding tabs to allow you adjust the watering pattern from 10 to 75 feet. You can also set the spray in the center, to the left, or to the right.
It also features a spray width adjustment you can set from 10 to 53 feet. There is a flow control to help you make more precise adjustments to the pattern. It features 18 nozzles and a large tube that helps to hold the sprinkler in place.
|Long-Lasting Turbo Motor||Width control levers break easily|
|Easy slide adjusters||Plastic parts become brittle|
|Integrated flow control||Needs high water pressure to reach maximum distance|
This is a truly all-metal sprinkler made from zinc and brass to last a very long time. The impulse arm is designed to eliminate side and back splash to save you water. The diffuser can be easily and quickly adjusted.
Coverage is rated at up to 5,800 square feet or a circle of up to 86 feet in diameter. It features a male and female connector that lets you add one or more sprinkler inline for maximum coverage of large areas.
|All-metal construction built to last||Tip of zinc spike breaks easily when you hit a rock|
|Fully adjustable spray pattern||Problems with the direction controls|
|Can add more sprinklers in line||Tends to clog easily|
The simple twirling action offers even coverage in a circle that may measure up to 24 feet in diameter depending on water pressure and where you set the adjustment. The wheels help make it easy for you to move it to the right location and the wide base ensures it doesn't fall over.
The heavy-duty all-metal construction ensures this good garden sprinkler will provide you with many years of flawless performance.
|Heavy-duty all-metal construction||Arms can fall out|
|Adjustable pattern up to 24 feet in diameter||Spray nozzles on ends fall out|
|Extra connector lets you "daisy-chain" more sprinklers||Does not always spin properly|
While a tractor sprinkler may not be good for use in your garden, you can always set it to run alongside your garden while it is watering your lawn.
This sprinkler is self-propelled and is designed to follow that path set by the garden hose. It comes with a ramp that turns the sprinkler off and can travel up to 200 feet. The adjustable aluminum spray arms let you determine the watering diameter ranging from 15 to 55 feet.
|All-metal construction||Not really for garden use|
|Auto shut-off ramp||Transmission design weak|
|3 speeds, low, neutral, high||May not drag hose uphill|
If none of the above options work for you, there is one more you might want to consider, especially if you have a garden filled with taller plants.
Get the water where it needs to go with all-brass impact sprinkler mounted on a brass tripod that can lift your sprinkler up to 48 inches in the air. The head can be adjusted from 0 to 360 degrees. The tripod can be adjusted from 25 to 48 inches using heavy-duty clip-locks.
Unlike many standard sprinklers, you can replace the head as needed or if you prefer a different type of head.
|All-brass tripod and head||Sprinkler head has a reputation for not working|
|Adjusts up to 48 inches high||Hose connection leaks|
|Offers coverage of up to 5,000 square feet||Does not spray as far as claimed|
If I had had this information when I started buying sprinklers, I could have saved a lot of time and of course money.
As for a winner, to me, they are all winners in their own class. But out in my garden shed you will find the Melnor oscillating sprinkler, the Sommerland tripod sprinkler and one of the Gilmore stationary sprinklers, each of which was chosen for a specific purpose and all of which do a great job.
If you have any information you would like to see here, please contact me here
When you have a small trench to dig, the last thing you need is the expense of renting a backhoe or mechanical trencher
YOU COULD USE ANY TYPE OF spade or digging shovel for the first foot or so of a trench. But in time, all you end up with is a backache. The right tool for the job will let you continue to work at ground level, get the job done right, and save you from a lot of unneeded soreness.
And it's that soreness that leads us to this article. Finding the best trenching shovel will save you a whole bunch of it. Because even professionals will break out the hand trenching shovel for short runs.
So lets get started and learn what a trenching shovel will do for you, what to look for and a few top picks to help you find the best one.
Using a wider shovel typically means moving excess dirt which is more work and stress on your back/knees digging it out, and filling it in
This type of shovel is often referred to as a "clean out" shovel as well as a trench shovel. This is because they are designed to help you scoop up any loose soil in your trench after it has been cut. The cut can be completed by hand or by using a powered trencher.
The most important thing to remember is that the trench shovel is not designed to cut down into the soil. If you look at the design of this type of shovel, you can see that the blade is not really wide enough for you to get your foot on it.
This, in turn, means you will not be able to put enough downward pressure on the shovel for it to cut through anything but loose soil. However, the narrow design makes it the perfect shovel for cleaning out trenches that are both narrow and deep.
With this in mind, you may want to consider using a tile or drain spade to cut the sides of the trench and loosen the soil before using a trenching shovel to remove the soil and to finish shaping the trench.
A trench shovel should be narrow in design and feature perfectly straight sides and a pointed end. The straight sides are used to help keep the edges of your trench nice and straight, while the point makes it easier to scoop out any remaining soil.
Like any other piece of gardening equipment, the last thing you want to have to do is go out and spend more money replacing it because you bought the wrong one. So, what should you be looking for when buying this type of shovel?
There are 5 main parts. Here we go over them in detail
A Razorback trenching shovel in action. Image courtesy of Home Depot
This is perhaps the most important part of any shovel, whether you are buying one for trenching or digging holes in your backyard. There are three types of shovel blades, those with pointed tips, those with rounded ends, and those with square ends. All three will do the job, but each has its own advantages:
Pointed end – goes into the ground more easily
Rounded end – goes into the ground easily and does a better job of scooping up loose soil
Square end – makes scooping larger amounts of soil easier
They also have their disadvantages:
Pointed end – not very efficient at scooping soil
Rounded end – less efficient at scooping
Square end – not made to cut into soil
Always choose a blade that is made from steel as they tend to be stronger and are more likely to give you many years of service for your money (my personal preference as I hate wasting money). Look for tempered or forged steel for maximum value.
Also look for one that has a lip at the top of the blade that gives you somewhere to apply pressure with your foot. (Nothing hurts worse than trying to press down on the sharp edge of a blade that doesn't have this lip.
Handles are typically either fiberglass or wood, both of which are truly fine for this type of work as they should never be subjected to heavy twisting as you might expect when digging a hole.
If you are going to look for one with a wood handle, Ash and hickory are the most commonly used materials as these hardwoods can stand up to a lot of abuse. One tip though, be sure the grain runs along the length of the handle as this ensures maximum strength.
Any fiberglass handled shovel you buy is going to have some form of grip that covers the area where you might commonly put your hands. This is done to protect your hands in the event the fiberglass should splinter.
Depending on the length of the handle, a "D" style handle may be used (especially on shorter handles) to give you more control. Some wood handles are nothing more than a long length of wood without any form of handle. Again, you have to decide which style is likely to work best for you.
A close up of a collar. Image courtesy of Bully Tools
The collar is the point at which the handle and the blade come together. Less expensive shovels are built with the handle being trimmed to fit tightly into the collar where they might be secured in place using a screw or a nail.
This could eventually become a problem as the wood ages and the screw or nail becomes loose in the handle and falls out. The best trenching shovels feature at least one, if not more, rivet that runs completely through from one side to the other to ensure maximum durability.
This is where the top of the blade has been folded over to give you somewhere to put your foot to help force the shovel into the ground. While the step doesn't need to be excessively wide, it needs to be wide enough for your foot to fit and allow you to apply the required pressure without hurting the bottom of your foot.
While some come without a step, look for those that do, you will find them much easier to work with.
No matter what type of shovel or shovels you finally decide to add to your collection, if you don't take good care of them, you will be replacing them on a frequent basis.
The best way to store a steel-bladed shovel is to place it head down into a 5-gallon bucket that has been filled with sand that has oil mixed into it. This mixture will keep out moisture and stop your shovel from rusting.
If you buy a shovel that has a wooden handle, it should last for decades. But, if you want to ensure it does, you should wipe it down to remove any dirt. Then take a rag that has been lightly soaked in linseed oil and wipe every inch of the handle. The oil will help keep the wood protected and prevent it from decaying over the years.
There are so many different types and brands of trench shovel on the market, finding the right one can be challenging. However, armed with the information above, you should have a better than average chance of finding exactly what you need.
Bear in mind (if the wife says it o.k., you can always have more than one shovel in your garden tool inventory). Here then are my top 7 picks for best trenching shovel:
This trenching shovel from Seymour comes with a 48-inch long fiberglass handle and features a rounded tip blade that makes digging and clearing trenches much easier.
The blade features rear-rolled steps designed to make digging and cleaning out much easier. The PermaGrip® collar ensures you never have to worry about the blade coming loose from the handle. It also features a cushioned grip handle for more comfort while you work.
|48 – inch long handle||Fiberglass handle has a lot of flex|
|Cushion grip handle||May receive a Structron brand, not Seymour (same company)|
|Round tip for easier digging||Some are shipped with a front roll instead of rear roll step|
This trench shovel offers a uniquely shaped blade that has been designed specifically for digging and cleaning out trenches. It features a 4-inch wide blade that is perfect for use in narrow trenches such as those you might dig to install a sprinkler system in your yard or garden.
The blade is made from heavy gauge tempered steel for added durability and features a front rolled step for added foot comfort. The blade and handle are riveted together to ensure they remain tightly connected.
|47.5 – inch long hardwood handle||Not for initial digging of trench|
|Forward turned step for secure foot placement||Head to handle angle is a bit much for some|
|Riveted for extra-strong head to handle connection||Step needs to be a little wider for comfort|
This trenching spade features a heavy-duty 5-inch wide blade made from tempered steel that is more than strong enough to get the job done. The blade has a pointed end that lets you break tough ground and work in rocky soil.
The fiberglass handle has a 9-inch cushioned grip to help give you more control and reduce hand fatigue. The extra-wide rear-turned step gives your foot a more stable platform to work with and more stability.
|Heavy-duty tempered steel blade||Fiberglass handle flexes|
|Wide rear-turned step for more stability||Blade may fold if used in high-clay soil|
|Sharp point makes sinking blade into ground easy||Handle breaks where it enters the blade|
The V-angled head of this trenching shovel makes it easy to use for penetrating a wide range of soil types. The 1-inch sides make it much easier to retain the soil you have scooped instead of watching it slide off the sides.
Features a 48-inch long ash hardwood handle for maximum durability. The extra-deep sides also give the blade more structural rigidity for those harder tasks such as working in clay-heavy soil.
|48-inch ash handle for strength and durability||35-degree handle makes digging challenging|
|13-guage steel blade||Not the best choice for heavy soils|
|Pointed end great for digging into soil||Hard to keep foot on top of blade|
The D-handle on this drain spade makes it much easier for you to maintain control while you are digging or scooping the soil out of your trench. Features a 14-inch long tempered steel blade and a round tip that makes it much easier for you to cut in the sides of your trench.
The hardwood handle is designed to provide you with years of flawless service. The blade features forward-turned steps for more secure foot placement while digging.
|D-handle for more control||Plastic handle may break|
|Hardwood handle for maximum durability||Short handle can be hard on your back|
|Strong blade doesn't bend||Blade needs to be sharpened before use|
This "sharp shooter" shovel features a 16-guage super heavy-duty steel blade. This blade has forward-turned steps for better foot placement and a hollow back design.
The handle is 48-inches long and has an oversized ergonomically designed end that improves your grip and gives you more control., The fiberglass handle has a polystyrene core that is surrounded by a polypropylene sleeve that adds strength, chemical and weather resistance, and durability to the assembly.
|Multi-layer handle for durability||Handle has a lot of flex|
|16-guage steel blade is very strong||Toe step is too narrow|
|Ergonomic handle takes some of the pain away||Blade needs to be longer|
This drain spade is ideal for smaller trenches as it features an extra-thick steel blade that measures 3-inches wide and 12-inches long. The closed-back design helps to reduce debris build up.
The handle is made from wood reinforced fiberglass for superior strength. In fact, you are more likely to bend the blade before you can break the handle. The extra length ferrules and welded I-beam supports work together to create an extra-strong shovel.
|Wood reinforced fiberglass handle is extra tough||Point is blunt and must be sharpened|
|Extra-long ferrules and welded I-beams||Blade is only 3-inches wide instead of 4|
|Heavy-gauge blade does not bend||Wood/fiberglass handle not covered under warranty|
While the trenching shovel may be your best option, it may not be the most efficient tool for the job. Another very popular option is the Trenching Hoe or Grub Hoe. This very easy to use tool can make digging smaller trenches go smoothly and quickly. In fact, all you have to do is use the hoe to chop into the ground and then drag the soil up and out of the way.
The Warren Hoe from Bully tools features a fiberglass handle that is weather and chemical resistant and features a cushioned grip. The blade is made from extra-thick 12-gauge commercial grade steel. The head measures 5" x 6.5" allowing you to cut the size of trench you need with ease.
The handle is made from wood reinforced fiberglass for maximum rigidity and durability. The handle measures 6 feet long.
|6-foot-long wood reinforced handle||Heavy|
|Handle is securely attached||Long handle can be hard to use|
|Very sturdily built||Blade has no edge needs to be filed|
When you have a trench to dig, you need the right tools to get the job done with the least amount of work, stress, strain, and pain. You can use either a trench shovel or a trenching hoe to get the job done, personally, I have both to make sure I can get the job done in a hurry. I like the two from Bully Tools as not only are they made in the U.S.A. but they offer great value for my money.
If you have any information you would like to see here, please contact us here.
Thank you for reading this guide on finding the best trenching shovel. I hope it has helped.
Weeds can be quite a nuisance in the garden, here are some tools to get you rid of it...
PERSONALLY THE ONLY THING I DON'T LOVE about gardening is having to deal with the weeds. To me, there is nothing less enjoyable than bending over or kneeling in the garden to pull those pesky weeds by hand.
There are so many different tools on the market that claim to make this job easier. The big question is, which of them is the best weeding tool, not only for your money but to get the job done right.
Thing is, there is no such thing as a single weeding tool that will work for all of your weeding tasks. Unless, of course, your garden is a perfectly flat piece of super soft ground that has been planted with just the right amount of space between each plant.
We all know that the chances of having the perfect garden are pretty slim. There are varying distances between rows and plants to deal with, differences in soil, raised beds, and of course how you plan to weed to consider.
Here are four very important questions you need to be able to answer truthfully before you look for the best weeding tool for each condition.
The soil under your lawn can be quite hard and packed together
The obvious answer to this is, of course, in your gardens. But are your gardens in-ground or in raised beds? Are you weeding between the pavers that make up your garden path, around trees and under shrubs, between your rows of plants? Will you be going all of the above and more?
Is this a new area of your garden? Is the soil hard and packed or is it nice and soft and lose?
Are you the kind of person who likes to stay on top of your weed problem or do you wait until they are three feet tall and threatening to take over?
Do you prefer to most of your weeding standing up or on your knees? Do you have a medical condition such as back problems that make it difficult to take care of the weeds as they grow?
All of these situations call for a different type of weeding tool and only by carefully considering and answering them to the best of your ability can you truly choose the best tool for each task. The good news is that there are weeding tools designed for just about any situation you are ever likely to find yourself in.
Now that you have a much better idea of where you plan to weed and the types of obstacles you are going to be dealing with, including any disabilities such as back problems, let's take a quick look at the two basic types of weeding tools, short-handled and long-handled as most weeding tools will fall into one of these two categories.
Many short-handled weeding tools are very similar in design to their longer-handled counterparts. However, the bulk of these tools have their own unique shapes and designs as they are intended to be used for very specific types of weeding.
The concept behind shorter handled weeding tools is to give you a tool that will give your more control to help you avoid uprooting valuable plants, while at the same time giving you enough leverage to make the job as easy as possible.
Depending on the styles and locations of your gardens and the types of weeding (i.e. around plants, between pavers, etc.), you may find you need several different types of weeding tool to get the job done.
Most long handled weeding tools will require bending over at some stage
While the standard hoe is the most common member of the long-handled weeding tool category, there are more gimmicky tools in this category than you can imagine (I know, I tried a few).
Picture if you will those infomercials touting tools that make weeding so easy ever your kids will love I and you understand what I mean. These tools are made for you to use in a standing position, which might be the better choice for those with back problems.
As stated, different types of weeding call for different weeding tools. So let's take a closer look at the differences and what type of tools might make the best weeding tool for each task.
While you may find that you prefer separate weeding tools for each task, there are a few tools out there that can be used for just about any type of weeding in your gardens. Most of these tools are going to fall into the short-handle category.
While this does mean you will spend your weeding time on your knees, these smaller tools let you get closer to each individual weed so that you can remove them without causing any damage to your plants. This category includes tools such as these:
Both of these tools feature ergonomically shaped handles and blades that are designed to help you get around and under the roots of the weeds in your garden so that you can remove them easily.
When you have large areas of unbroken ground, need to remove weeds in a garden area that has been left to its own resources for too long, or need to clean up the garden plants at the end of the season, you need a tool that is going to make the job as easy as possible.
A propane powered garden torch is considered to be the best choice for this type of weeding.
At 100,000 BTU, this propane torch will turn any plant, living or dead, weed or not, into ashes in seconds.
When you have a bad back, weeding the garden can seem like a painful and often insurmountable task. Bending over or working on your knees for long periods of time can be virtually impossible.
Fortunately, there are a number of long-handled weeding tools designed to make pulling the weeds out of your garden something you can do by yourself rather than having to pay your kids, or someone else's to do the work for you.
Typically, these tools (see image) feature a foot pedal that closes the jaws around the weed so that you can easily pull it out of the ground. An ejector button at the top releases the jaws and lets the weed fall out. Not only do you get to pull the weeds out of your garden, your hands stay nice and clean.
The cracks between the pavers you used to build your patio and pathways can be really hard to keep the weeds out of. Many crops are grown so close together, trying to weed between them tends to be so challenging, it almost never gets done.
What you need is a tool that has a long thin blade, one that sits at 90 degrees to the handle. This way once you reach the spot where the weeds live, you have the leverage to remove them easily.
While this tool comes with a short handle, the company that makes it also sells an extension handle that makes this tool far more versatile and can help ease back pain while you clean up those cracks.
If you are like me and like to get up close and personal with your plants and weeds, you probably spend a lot of time on your knees. Also, if you are like me, your soil is probably nice and soft, which should make it easy to pull those annoying weeds.
This is the perfect place for a finger weeder. Essentially these are a tool that is designed to slip over one of your fingers (usually the index finger) and has a forked tip that can be used to dig around the weeds so you can remove them easily.
Simple and oh so easy to use, I have one of these and absolutely love it for those times when I am practicing my own form of "zen" gardening.
While a ring weeder is perfect for smaller weeds it may not be the best weeding tool for tackling those bigger ones. One of my favorite tools for this job is the Japanese Hori Hori knife. This tool is perfect for digging deeper into the ground to remove bigger weeds with ease.
The best ones have a sharp knife edge on one side and a serrated edge that can be used to cut through roots on the other. The blade is usually concave and often has a ruler engraved into it for measure spaces between plants and rows or planting depths.
The riveted wood handle and extra sharp dual purpose blade make this an excellent choice for weeding your garden. The stainless-steel blade features a full tang for added strength and durability.
Now that you have a better idea of what you should look for in weeding tools for your garden adventure, let's look at one of the best weeding tools in each category.
This weeder has a curved head with twin tines designed to give you plenty of leverage for uprooting even the toughest weeds. It is perfect for removing thistles and dandelions.
The head is made from long-lasting aluminum that will never rust or corrode. The Softgrip handle helps reduce wrist and hand fatigue when you spend hours out in the garden.
|Softgrip handle is comfortable and durable||You have to work while on your knees|
|Aluminum head will not rust||Metal head is not strong enough to use in clay soil|
|Head design make removing weeds easier||Tines are short and close together|
All you need to get started is a 20-lb. tank of propane and a way to light the fire. This weed burner has been given the National Home Gardening Club Member Tested Seal-of-Approval.
When turned all the way up, flame temperature can reach up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which will burn virtually anything, especially weeds, that gets in its way. The best part is you can use this torch for more than burning weeds, you can use it to thaw frozen water lines, melt ice and snow, burn stumps and heavy brush, and more.
|Easy to use||Working with live fire|
|Burns everything to ash||Definite fire risk|
|Comes with 10 feet of hose||May not kill the roots|
When you can't get down on your knees to pull weeds or you simply prefer not to, the Yard Butler may be just what you are looking for. It makes pulling weeds from a standing position fast and easily.
All you have to do is open the jaws, dig down around the roots and push down on the foot operated lever. The jaws will seize the weed tightly so that you can pull it out. The quick-release button lets you drop the weed in your wheelbarrow or bucket.
|Easy to use||Not for use on tough weeds|
|Sturdily built||Leaves holes that must be filled in|
|Ergonomic handle design||Poor handle design|
We all know how hard it can be to clean out weeds growing between paving stones, in the cracks between the sidewalk and your walls. This simple tool is thin enough to slip into these cracks with ease and sharp enough to get under the weeds and rip them out of the ground.
Best of all the kit contains an extension handle that lets you use it when standing up as well as when you are kneeling.
|Simple Design||Long handle can slip out|
|Comes with long handle extension||Has few other uses|
|Blade is sharp|
When you have raised garden beds, the last thing you need is to be trying to use large garden tools to remove any weeds that grow.
This simple weeding tool slips on a finger so that you can weed your garden beds by hand. The twin prongs let you dig under the roots so that you can easily pluck the weeds from your garden.
|Easy to use||Plastic may break|
|Twin prongs let you dig under weeds||Small and easy to lose|
|You get 3 per package||May be too big for small hands|
The Japanese Hori Hori knife may truly be the ultimate gardening tool. This one has a 7-inch blade made from 420 stainless steel that will provide you with many years of flawless performance.
The blade features a razor-sharp edge on one side and a sharp serrated edge on the other. The tang extends all the way into the handle which is held together with 3 rivets for added strength. You also get a thick leather sheath and a diamond sharpening rod.
|Top quality 420 stainless steel blade||Metal tang protrudes from handle|
|Heavy-duty leather sheath||Rivets not set flush in handle|
|Extremely sharp blade||Sharp edges of tang can cut handle|
There are so many different types of weeding tools on the market it can be very hard to know which of them is the best weeding tool for your needs.
While I wish I could tell which of these is my favorite, I have, to be honest, I have at least one of each that gets used for specific purposes. But, if I had to choose one, it would be the Hori Hori knife because it has so many uses.
If you buy one of these, you are sure to fall in love with it, I guarantee it!
If you have any information you would like to see here, please contact us here. Thanks for reading this guide on finding the best weeding tool for the most common garden weeding problems.
When cutting down trees,a pair of loppers will save you time and effort
IF THE TIME HAS COME for you to prune a few branches in your trees that yard that measure more than an inch in diameter...
Do you run out to the shed and grab the pruning shears? Probably not as they are not made to take on such thick limbs. What about one of those gas or electric powered pruning saws? Unless you have dozens of trees to trim every year, buying one of these could be overkill.
A much better choice would be a pair of good loppers, as they can cut limbs up to 2-inches in diameter with ease. Let's take a look at the best loppers for your money.
While we are at it, let's also take a look at what you should be looking for in a pair of loppers so that you don't do what I did and buy the wrong ones the first time.
First, you need to realize that loppers come in a range of sizes, styles, and prices. To a certain extent, they are little more than a pair of pruning shears with longer handles. However, deciding which are the best loppers for you should be based on:
*Note that I put the cost of the loppers at the bottom of the list.
While cost may play an important role in your final decision, it should never be your first thought, nor should it be your final deciding factor. The reality is that if you try and "cheap out", you are only going to end up being disappointed in the loppers you end up with.
To start with, there are two basic types of lopper on the market. These are the anvils style and the bypass style. These terms refer to the cutting blades themselves and how they cut. Both blade types are made for different types of cutting, so be sure to buy the type that best fits your overall needs.
A close up of an anvil lopper action thanks to Tabor Tools. This one also has a compound action you can see on the left
Anvil style loppers are not as commonly used as they tend to make a rougher cut
A close up of the bypass action thanks to Tabor Tools
Bypass style loppers are probably the most commonly used style as they make far cleaner cuts
While anvil loppers can cut thicker branches up to 2 inches in diameter, if you plan to cut anything thicker, you may want to invest in a pruning saw.
Like most things you buy today, with loppers, you tend to get what you pay for. For the most part, you will find that loppers have steel blades. However, the best loppers have blades that are made from either carbon steel or stainless steel.
While some of the less expensive loppers may have a simple pivot, these tend to make the job much harder than it needs to be. The best loppers feature one of three different types of pivoting mechanisms. These mechanisms are designed to reduce the amount of effort needed to cut through the branches.
A gear action lopper in action. Image courtesy of Fiskars
This style of lopper features a gear mechanism at the fulcrum. The gears are designed to magnify the amount of force you are applying at the handles, making it much easier to cut through thicker branches.
A compound action lopper thanks to Tabor Tools
These loppers feature multiple pivot points and a number of moving levers and parts that help to amplify your efforts. With these, the handles do have to be opened wider in order for the blades to reach around the branches you are cutting.
A close up of a ratchet mechanism on a pair of loppers. Thanks to Gardenite
These are great for those who lack the physical strength to complete a cut in a single shot. Each time you move the handles closer together, the ratcheting mechanism locks them in place. You can then release the handles and squeeze them back together again. This way you get to make the cut in as many easy steps as needed.
Loppers are available with a variety of handle lengths. These can range from as short as 15 inches to as long as 32 inches or more. Longer handles can give you more leverage, which in turn will make it easier for you to cut through those tougher branches.
However, longer handles are heavier and can be harder to work with. Pick a handle length that you are comfortable working with and will still let you get the job done.
They can be a great way to compromise as you can slide them in for shorter handles when you need them and then pull them out when you need longer handles. These can be ideal for many pruning situations. But they do tend to be heavier and you need to make sure the locking mechanism works properly as some of the cheaper models don't hold very well.
A pair of telescopic loppers with standard style grips, thanks to MLTOOLS
Most loppers come with some form of grip on the handles. The grips come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. Many of the newer models feature "ergonomically" designed grips that are made to fit your hands and reduce fatigue and stress.
There are soft foam grips (my favorites), contoured grips and more, but the best way to decide which style is right for you is to try a few different styles and brands out for yourself.
Most of the weight in a lopper comes from the handles. There are several different types of material in use today:
Keep in mind that while heavier duty handles may seem like a better idea, you are likely to find them to be tiring to use if you have a lot of pruning to do.
There are a couple of other issues worth mentioning if this is your first time buying a decent pair of loppers:
No matter how you look at it, cost is eventually going to play a role in your final decision. Center pivot loppers are going to be the least expensive but can be the hardest to use.
Geared loppers are going to be more expensive as will compound action loppers, but both can make the job much easier. Fixed length handles will be less expensive than those with telescopic handles, but may be less versatile.
So now that you know what you need to consider in your search for the best loppers to meet your needs, let's take a look at my top picks in each category.
These are the ones with two blades that pass by each other making the cut.
These ratcheting loppers feature a pair of SK-5 High Carbon Steel blades and a tough ratcheting mechanism. The handles extend up to 39 1/2 inches long and lock firmly into place.
The handles are made from lightweight aluminum and feature non-slip grips for added comfort and safety. They are designed to cut branches up to 1 3/4 inches thick. The ratcheting mechanism offers a 5:1 cutting advantage over standard center pivot loppers.
|Lightweight aluminum handles||The blades flex at the pivot point|
|SK-5 high carbon steel blades||May not cut branches over 1 1/2 inches without difficulty|
|Ratcheting mechanism offers easier cutting and more power||A little heavy despite the aluminum handles|
If you have thicker branches to prune these compound lever-action loppers may be just the ticket. The Fiskars Power-Lever design doubles your power input in comparison to single pivot loppers. This allows you to easily cut branches up to 1 3/4 inches thick.
The handles extend from 25 to 37 inches to help you reach those high branches and to give you plenty of leverage. The fully hardened steel blade features a low-friction coating that also helps to protect the blades from rust. The steel handles come with Softgrip handles for added safety and comfort.
|Compound lever action adds plenty of power||Handle locking mechanisms may not lock handles in place|
|Extendable handles help you reach higher and add more leverage||Hardened steel blades are brittle and may break under heavy usage|
|Steel construction won't break||All-steel construction is very heavy|
These feature a single blade that connects with an anvil once the cut is made
The compound action of these anvil style loppers makes cutting through branches up to 2 inches in diameter a breeze. The blades are made from high-carbon steel and are covered with a non-stick coating.
The handles are a fixed 30-inches long to give you all the power you need to make a wide variety of cuts and have rubberized comfort grips that provide you with a firm grip for added safety.
The compound action of these loppers multiplies your efforts by a factor of three over single pivot loppers.
|High carbon steel blades have a non-stick coating||Carbon steel blades will rust|
|Anvil style lets you cut thicker branches||Poor balance adds extra strain to hands and arms|
|Rugged design built to last||Fixed handle length may not work for every job|
The handles of this compound style anvil lopper extend from 21 to 33 inches, making them more adaptable than most on the market. The fully heat-treated head features a PTFE (Teflon) coated blades for fast, easy, and clean cuts every time.
To help keep the weight down, the handles are made from fiberglass. This lopper is designed to cut branches up to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
|Lightweight fiberglass handles||May not cut certain woods at 1 1/2 inches in diameter|
|Handles extend from 21 to 33 inches||Lip on the end makes it hard to see if lopper is positioned properly when cutting|
|Compound action makes cutting easier||Extendable arms hard to keep locked in place|
Gear technology adds tons of power when cutting through branches
The patented PowerGear2® technology used in these loppers from Fiskars gives you 3 times the cutting power of a conventional lopper. You can use this power to cut through branches up to a full 2 inches in diameter.
The gear and cam mechanisms are designed to give you maximum power when you are in the middle of your cut where the branch is the thickest. The blades are made from premium quality steel with a low-friction coating an improved geometry to help make cutting in tight spots easier.
|Gear and cam mechanism makes cutting easier||Fixed length handles|
|Up to a full 2-inch capacity||Blades may break on larger branches|
|Low-friction coating helps make cutting easier||Handles must be opened to almost 180 degrees to fit over larger branches|
Finding the best loppers to fit your needs is not an easy task as there are so many to choose from. You may find you need to have more than one pair on hand to take care of all your needs.
I personally love the Fiskars 25 Inch Extendable Power-Lever Lopper because they offer plenty of power and I personally prefer bypass style loppers as they let me get in closer to the end of the limbs.
Testing soil will give you peace of mind, and maximum plant health and productivity
NOW THAT YOU HAVE the spot picked out for your garden and have it all cleared and ready to go, the next step is to determine the quality of the soil.
You can, of course, take a small sample and send it off to the UMass Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Lab for analysis. But this can take a lot of time and be a little expensive. A much better option is to use a soil pH tester kit and do it yourself.
So let's take a look at what you should be looking for in a soil pH test kit to make sure you don't waste your money. Before you rush out to the nearest garden center or department store.
In short, maintaining the proper pH balance of your soil is vital to the healthy growth of everything you plan to plant in your garden.
For example, if your garden has a high level of calcium in it, the soil will be more alkaline. On the other hand, if there is a high level of phosphorus in your soil, it will be more acidic.
Most plants require certain amounts of each in order to flourish. However, if the soil is too acidic or alkaline, your plants will not thrive and provide you with maximum harvest. This is the main reason why you need to buy a pH tester and keep a close eye on the pH balance of your soil.
An example of a chemical colored dye soil ph tester kit
There are, in fact, a total of three different types of soil pH test kits on the market today, pH strips, pH colored dyes, and electronic pH testers. The issue with strips and dyes however, is neither of them is capable of giving you accurate results you can rely on. You also need to buy every test you intend to do.
This leaves only the electronic pH testers. Electronic testers are able to provide you with almost instantaneous results that, depending on the brand/model you buy. They give you accurate results you can rely on. Also ph testers in this category are reusable. All you need to do to reuse the tester is to clean the soil off it.
One thing to keep in mind if you have never used a soil pH tester before is to be sure that the tester kit you get comes with a very complete set of instructions. Not only should the instructions tell you how to use the kit, but they should also tell you how to interpret the results. After all, not much good having a series of test results if you have no idea what they mean, right?
The instructions should also cover how to calibrate the tester to ensure you get the most accurate results possible. The problem here is that if you don’t get accurate results or are not sure how to interpret them, you can easily end up over or under-fertilizing your garden. This could leave you with a garden that does not produce the best possible results or worse yet a patch of ground full of dead plants.
If you want the best results, look for a soil pH test kit that does more than just measure the pH of the soil. A good testing kit will allow you to run at least four different tests on your soil.
The pH Level - the pH level of your soil should be between one and fourteen on the scale, with neutral soil sitting in the middle at a solid seven. Once you know whether your soil is acidic (under 7) or alkaline (over 7) you can adjust the type and amount of fertilizer you need to use.
Your Soil's Conductivity - Electrical conductivity is used to determine the level of naturally occurring nutrients currently in your soil. Once you have these figures, you can more accurately determine how much more fertilizer your soil needs.
Your Soil's Temperature - Different crops need different soil temperatures in order to germinate properly. You need to measure the temperature at the level you intend to plant the seeds. Rather than at the top which would be of no value with regard to helping your seeds to germinate and flourish.
Most, if not all quality seed packages will tell you the optimum soil temperature for best results.
The Level of Light - Plants all have their own very specific needs when it comes the right amount of sunlight for proper growth. Some pH tester kits have a built in light meter to help you determine how much sunlight each area of your garden receives on an average day.
I would recommend you buy a separate light meter if the kit you choose does not have one built in.
Using an electronic tester is relatively simple. Of course, the best way to make sure you are using yours the right way is to read the instructions that come with it.
The good news is that most pH testers are very similar, here are a few basic tips that should help you get started. They are common to a wide range of brands and models based on my experience.
So now that you have a better idea of what you should be looking for in a ph test kit, let's take a quick look at my top seven picks and what I do and don't like about them.
This pH tester is one of the more popular units on the market today and features a bright easy to read LED display rather than a meter. It will test for pH, phosphorus, nitrogen, and potash levels.
In the kit, you will find information covering the pH level requirements of more than 450 plants to help you make the right adjustments. The tester performs 25 tests, including 10 pH and 5 nitrogen, potash, and phosphorus.
|Inexpensive||Tester does not work for all pH|
|Easy to follow instructions||Displays either highest or lowest pH values|
|Easy to use and is not messy||May be inaccurate|
While this meter is used only to measure the pH of your soil, what attracted me to it is the fact it is so simple to use.
All you have to do is dig a hole in your garden that measures 3 - 4 inches across and approximately 5 inches deep. Fill the hole with water and let it drain out. Stick the tester in the soil and wait for the results, nothing could be easier.
|One of the simplest pH testers to use||Only gives pH readings nothing more|
|Easy to keep clean||Takes up to 5 minutes for an accurate reading|
|Meter is quite accurate||Soil must be wet for it to work|
This pH tester has dual probes designed to give you a much more accurate set of readings.
The best part is that it does not require you to run out and buy a new set of batteries each spring. However, according to the instructions, you need to take a sample of your soil, place it in a container, and add distilled water to test it.
If you attempt to stick the probes directly into the ground, they may break. If your soil is freshly tilled and loose, this should not be a problem.
|Readings are ready after one minute||Probes may break off|
|Ready to use straight out of the box||Container method works but freshly tilled soil offers better results|
|Very inexpensive||Accuracy issues|
This nifty little dual probe device tests the pH of your soil, its moisture content, and the all-important amount of light each area of your garden receives during the day. It never needs a battery and has been tested to be scientifically accurate.
The single switch lets you choose between light, moisture, and pH modes. Not only can you use this tester out in the garden, but you can also use it indoors to help ensure you are not over-watering your plants.
|Can be used indoors and outdoors||Not good for succulents|
|Does not require batteries||Meter features tiny fonts and can be hard to read|
|Dual probes for better accuracy||Suffers from low accuracy readings|
While this little soil tester kit may be listed as being for use in the field or schools, it is one of the highest rated kits on the market. It comes complete with a handy and very durable case as well as one of the most comprehensive instruction manuals available.
This kit will give you extremely accurate results that will help you get the most out of your garden. The kits ease of use and highly accurate results make it one of the best on the market.
|All tests are easy to complete||The plastic filtration unit comes apart at the seam|
|Comes with comprehensive instruction manual||Chemical tests may not be the best choice for some gardeners|
|Provides rapid results||The plunger system is challenging to use|
This is yet another field pH soil tester kit that can be used by amateur gardeners, professionals, and in the classroom. It can be used to test for pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash levels. Comes in a sturdy plastic carrying case and includes enough chemicals for you to complete up to 80 tests - 20 for each category of testing.
The kit also includes a set of easy to read comprehensive testing instructions. While using this type of tester may be a bit time consuming the results are well-worth the effort.
|Very accurate results||Time consuming|
|Tests more than just pH||Does not test for light levels|
|Comes with everything you need for 80 tests||A little messy to use|
This low-cost soil pH tester kit comes with enough supplies for a total of ten tests. This includes 4 x pH, and 2 x nitrogen/phosphorus/potash.
Each of the test tubes is color coded to ensure that you use the right ones for each test and to ensure accurate results. Comes with a set of easy to read and understand instructions.
Test results will make it easy for you to verify the condition of your soil and amend it as needed so that your garden will flourish all year long.
|Low cost||Suffers from accuracy issues|
|Easy to use||Messy to use|
|Comes with everything you need||Very small test tubes not for those with big hands|
While most types of soil pH test strips tend to be less than ideal, they are very easy to use and as long as you buy a top-quality kit can give you the results you are looking for in just a few minutes.
You can use these test strips to test your soil for pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. They provide you with accurate results in minutes.
The kit comes with a comprehensive guide to soil amendment. There are no chemicals to worry about, no test tubes, and no equipment to worry about losing. All you have to do is dip the strip into damp soil and the strips do all the work.
Nothing is more important to having a highly successful garden than having soil with the proper pH balance and nutrient levels. Each of the above-listed soil pH tester kits and devices will do the job for you and provide you with reasonably accurate results.
For myself, I have to admit I use the kit from Environmental Concepts as I find it gives me the most accurate results.
If you have enjoyed reading about the 7 best soil pH tester kits please let me know.
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