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Having the right hand tools is very important in gardening. Buy the best quality you can afford. Be sure to choose a sturdy hand trowel of cast steel, aluminum, or forged steel. Avoid cheaper trowels made of stamped steel which will bend easily under the strain of heavy soil.
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A good quality long-handled pointed shovel is essential for general digging. Try to get one with a reinforced spine.
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A spade is useful for digging trees and shrubs, shaping root balls, and digging trenches. Choose tempered steel for best edge holding or stainless steel for rust resistance. Foot treads make digging easier. Spades generally have narrower blades than shovels and extend more or less straight downward from the handle, where shovels are more angled.
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A garden fork is an essential tool for turning over soil. Make sure to get one with sturdy tines that won't bend easily. A quality garden fork is the best cultivating tool in a gardener's arsenal.
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There are many different types of hoes on the market. All of them will do the job as long as they are sturdy. Remember that a hoe is not an excavating tool. It is used to shear off weeds, not to excavate soil. Make sure your hoe is always sharp.
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A steel rake is useful for grading and smoothing seedbeds and for removing rocks and other debris from prepared garden soil.
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A bastard file is another essential garden tool. Use it to sharpen the blades of shovels and hoes.