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The right tool makes any job easier. Fortunately, you only need a handful of inexpensive tools to handle the most common lawn and garden maintenance. Hint: All of these tools make perfect housewarming gifts to give — and receive.
Note: The one essential tool not on this list is a good lawn mower. If you're in the market for one, check out this handy guide to picking the best mower for your yard.
Best used for: Planting trees and shrubs and mixing large quantities of dirt, compost and similar materials.
What to look for: Your first shovel should be a tempered-steel round-point shovel. Look for a 44- to 48-inch-long shaft (wood, fiberglass and metal versions are available) that you can grip and lift comfortably.
Best used for: Removing small dead and unwanted branches from trees and shrubs.
What to look for: Choose hand-held bypass pruners with smooth operating blades and comfortable grips.
Best used for: Digging holes in garden beds and containers for plants and mixing soil with compost, fertilizer and other additives.
What to look for: Look for a comfortable grip and a narrow, sturdy blade that will pierce the soil more easily.
Best used for: Corralling your hand tools for easy carrying, gathering clippings and weeds, and combining fertilizers and plant foods.
What to look for: Go for a basic 5-gallon plastic bucket with handle. If the container has frequently used measurements printed or stamped on the side, all the better.
Best used for: Gathering leaves and lawn clippings and spreading mulch and other ground-covering materials around planting beds.
What to look for: Super-sized leaf rakes can be difficult to maneuver, so look for a medium-size rake head with plastic or metal tines.
Best used for: Working soil in planting beds, pressing sown seeds into soil and removing dead grass from lawn.
What to look for: A flat-head rake is useful for leveling soil, while a bow-head garden rake is often easier to maneuver. Test drive both in the Lowe's Garden Center to see which you like better.
Best used for: Transporting small quantities of water from an outdoor tap to thirsty plants.
What to look for: A 1.5- or 2-gallon plastic or metal watering can with a removable rainfall spout is suitable for most outdoor watering duties.
Learn more about the right way to water your lawn and garden.
Best used for: Protecting your hands from thorns, branches, chemicals and poisonous plants.
What to look for: Cotton gloves with rubberized grips are inexpensive but soak up water and wear out quickly. Consider investing in a pair of leather or synthetic gloves for greater protection and durability.
What you do with it: Transporting large quantities of water from an outdoor tap to other areas of your lawn and garden.
What to look for: Measure the furthest distance the hose needs to extend in your yard before shopping.
Learn more about selecting the right hose. Rubber hoses are more durable than vinyl and vinyl-reinforced hoses.
Best used for: Clipping grass and weeds in hard-to-mow areas, including along edges, walls and fences.
What to look for: Electric models (corded or cordless) are quiet and inexpensive. Gas-powered models offer extra power and the convenience of freedom from cords, outlets and chargers. For easiest operation, look for models that accept cartridges that are preloaded with trimming string.
Watch our video on using a string trimmer.