Yard Tools for Homeowner

What Are The Must Have Yard Tools for the New Homeowner

Does a homeowner have to spend a large amount of money for 12 basic yard tools?  No! It is an investment to purchase yard tools, but not a substantial investment. Here are the tools you should own and you don’t have to buy all of them at a retail store.

Being a homeowner requires an often-overlooked investment in tools.  Here is a small list of basic hand yard tools that most homeowners should own. This list is not exhaustive, just basic. It does not include electric or gasoline powered hand tools. Not all landscaping tools have to be high dollar state of the art, high-tech implements.   

Most tools that will meet the homeowner’s needs are simple basic tools. Many landscaping hand tools are low-tech and simple.  Before rushing out to the hardware or big box store here are a couple of buying tips.

Useable quality tools are at yard sales, moving sales, downsizing sales, estate sales and on social media sites.

On the other hand, one can purchase new, high quality tools with the reasonable expectation that they will last a lifetime.  For example, I own a long handled digging shovel that is over 30 years old.

Compare the prices of new tools versus those purchased outside of the retail market and factor in the expected life use of the tool.  Whether you choose new high, quality tools or pre-owned tools do not buy cheap quality tools.  Poorly made tools do not last and will usually fail when you need them the most. 


Many hand tools have wooden handles.  Wood is sturdy, long lasting, and reasonably priced.  .  .  Painted handles are a sign of low quality the paint being used to hide defects in the wood.  Higher priced tools have fiberglass or steel handles. These have a longer life    


Shovels Square and Pointed

Shovels come in several shapes and varieties.

A shovel is a simple garden tool; you will likely use it all the time for digging holes, moving dirt or cutting an edge. So have a couple of different styles in your garage or tool shed. Wood handled shovels work fine, higher prices a fiberglass or steel handle for commercial work. A shovel is usually an excellent tool to splurge a bit on for improved quality.

Pointed Shovels

Digging shovels or pointed shovels are common. A long handle shovel is approximately 48 inches long.  The long handle gives better leverage than a short handle shovel, it puts less strain on your back than short handle shovel. You can also dig deeper holes than with a short handled shovel. The short handle shovel also has usefulness. The D Shaped handled provides good control. 

 In addition, a short handle shovel may work better for shorter people.  

 Flat Shovels

Flat or square shovels should be included in your tool portfolio.  Also, know as a transfer shovel it holds more material than a pointed shovel and can be used as a sort of dustpan to scrape up materials from hard surfaces.  Its best uses are; for moving loose garden material, sand, top soil or debris, shaping/edging beds, mix concrete, level off areas that need to be flat.  A long and short handle is based on user preference and intended use.



Steel Bow Rake
Steel Rake

It is recommended that you own two types of rakes.

The steel rake, landscaping rake or bow rake is stiff backed rake used for spreading, tamping, smoothing and breaking up soils, weeding and / or removing thatch. The teeth or tines of this rake are stiff and do not flex. These rakes can also used to rake out small concrete pours. The steel rake is an excellent utility rake and is often overlooked as a tool to incorporate into your fold.

Broom or Leaf  

Broom or Leaf Rake
Leaf or Broom Rake

A leaf rake has a triangular fan-shaped head, with multiple tines (or prongs, like a fork), and a long handle. It is best used like a broom to gather leaves or debris lying on the landscape.


Steel or Poly, Contractor or Garden type?

Steel 6 Cuft

Steel 6 Cubic Feet Capacity

Poly Wheelbarrow

Poly 4 Cubic Feet Capacity

Traditional wheelbarrows are available in a range of volumes, from 2 cubic feet up to 6 cubic feet for a contractor-grade wheelbarrow. A typical homeowner type wheelbarrow can hold approximately 3 cubic feet; the smaller ones hold 2 cubic feet.

If exposed to the elements a steel wheelbarrow will rust over time.  Steel wheelbarrows are extremely sturdy and can carry anything from a pile of bricks to heavy garden mulch with ease.  Whereas a poly wheel barrow will not rust, however it is not as durable as steel. A poly wheelbarrow will suffice if one is not loading and moving heavy materials such as bricks and stones. 


Spreaders are used to deliver/spread nutrients, fertilizers, pesticides and seeds.

Which spreader is best for your yard and how do you pick one?

These features of your yard help to make the selection.

·        Square footage area of the yard

·        Shape of the yard, contours, curves and straight lines.

·        Hilly, slopped or flat landscape

·        Number of trees, driveways, curbing and garden beds

Lawn Size Square Feet Spreader Type
Small 1,500 Hand-held Spreader
Medium 5,000 Broadcast
Large 15,000 Small Broadcast
Extra Large 20,000` Large Broadcast
Variable Lots of landscaping and narrow spaces Drop Spreader

Broadcast Spreader

Broadcast Spreader

Broadcast spreaders disburse material in an arc over a wide area. As the spreader moves forward, the material drops on rotating disk, which casts the material out in a circular pattern.  The size of the fan depends on hole size of the dispenser and speed of your walking pace. Each pass over the lawn must overlap the previous pass in order to achieve 100% coverage.  A general rule is that the “effective width” of the spread is roughly equal to 75 percent of the total reach.  If your spreader’s arc measures 12 feet across to its outermost points, the effective coverage is 9 feet wide. Passes across the lawn should be 9 feet apart. To get the best coverage set the spreader at 50 percent, and then spread the material 2 ways in a crosshatch pattern. Broadcast spreader cover lots of ground in the least amount of time.


Details for calibrating spreaders are in this article Calibrating Your Fertilizer Spreader, .1

Drop Spreader

Drop Spreader

 A Drop Spreader mechanism drops material from beneath the hopper as it is pushed along the lawn.  An adjustable plate, a flow plate, regulates the flow of material.  Opening it wide yields more, closing it yields lest.  There is no outward throw of materials like the broadcast spreader. This spreader delivers in a precise and targeted manner.  The drop method requires accuracy and overlapping the treated area so that there are no misses.  When applying fertilizer misses result in striping of the lawn, one line of grass ends up greener than another line.


Hand Held Spreader

Hand Held Crank Spreader

A hand held spreader works by battery or by a small hand crank.  This spreader delivers the material in front of as you walk.  It is compact for easy storing and lightweight. Although it does not hold nearly as much material as the drop or broadcast spreader.  The crank hand held spreaders I have seen and used are right handed  and the left hand holds and supports the spreader.  Even though I could use a broadcast spreader for my sized lawn, I use the crank model.  The electric model failed and many reviews of the product state similar failures.  I do have to fill it up several times but that is no inconvenience. 

What Causes Rust Stains On Sidewalk After Fertilizing?

Stained Concrete Walk

The iron in your lawn fertilizer causes rust stains on sidewalks and driveways. Fertilizers contain metals and minerals such as magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. When fertilizer granules get onto concrete surfaces, then get hit by water from rain or your sprinkler, iron seeps out and stains your concrete.  Apply granular fertilizer carefully, to the grass only.  When you finish broom off any overspill fertilizer back onto the grass and off the concrete.  If you are after the fact and need to clean your sidewalk of those rust stains use Oxalic Acid.  Oxalic Acid does not harm organic matters, lawns, flowers etc.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

Full Cover PPE

Keep safe from accident and injury.  The Personal Protection Equipment is a try and buy item, and picking them is based on personal preferences.

Safety gear includes:

·        Eye protection

·        Ear protection

·        Gloves

·        Safety shoes, no open toes sandals or flip-flops.

Garden Hose

What’s Important when Choosing a Garden Hose?

Eco Safety





Fittings / Couplings

Outdoor faucets and garden hoses, especially those that were manufactured before 2014, are not meant to be used for drinking water. They may contain lead and/or be made from materials that easily leach chemicals into the water, especially when heated by the sun. Furthermore, garden hoses are often left outside in unsanitary conditions; this makes them open to bacteria growth.

Garden hoses that are certified to meet certain standards can be safe to drink from if they’re maintained in sanitary conditions. If your garden hose or outdoor faucet is NSF/ANSI 61 or NSF/ANSI 372 certified, it means the products can be used for drinking water and meet U.S. EPA lead-free requirements.


Rubber Hoses

Rubber Hose

Rubber hoses are the best, the strongest and last the longest. They are the heaviest and cost the most money.  Rubber hoses are top of the line.

 Vinyl Hoses

Vinyl Hose

Vinyl hoses cost the least, are lightweight and are not sturdy.  Vinyl hoses will not last and you may be purchasing another hose in one or two years. Even for light duty, the value of the low cost is minimal in relationship to the length of use of a vinyl hose. 


Expandable Hose

Expandable Hose

Expandable hoses are lightweight and can expand up to 5 times their original length. They are made of an outer and inner core. The outer core is made from a woven polyester fabric. The inner core is a latex material. The hose expands as the inner core fills with water and pushes the outer core.  Expandable hoses are designed not to kink or twist.  While not as durable as a rubber hose, they are extremely light weight.  The only downside I have found with these hoses is the cost and they cannot be exposed to heat and sun. The Florida sunshine shortens the life considerably.  Women favor these hoses because they are not as heavy as traditional garden hoses.


Hose Length

First, determine your needs.  What is the length of hose you need from each of your hose bibs to reach the furthest areas of your yard.  Longer hoses weigh more that means they are heavy to lug around and they also cost more. You can always couple two 50-foot lengths together to reach 100 feet rather than tugging, uncoiling and coiling up a long 100-foot hose.


Kinked Hose

Flexible hoses are easy to store and easy to maneuver in the yard. A hose that flexes too easily will also kink easily.  Kinked hoses break and split. All hoses will kink even those guaranteed not to kink. A simple test is to grab the hose and bend it. If it does not kink you, have your answer, if it does then move on. 



The most common garden hose widths are; half inch, five-eighths inch and three quarter inch. The width is measured as I.D., inside diameter. Larger hoses can carry greater volume, however smaller diameter hoses will have higher pressure for the volume of water carried.

A hose width of five-eighths inch is generally most useful. It is a good combination of water flow and pressure without being too heavy.


Garden hose fittings are the couplings that attach to the hose bibs, sprinklers, nozzles or connecting hose ends. Plastic fittings do not last; they crack, break and deteriorate when under the stress of heat and sun. 

Fittings made of brass are the toughest, are wrench tightened, and will not snap off. Look for hoses with brass fittings and rubber washers.  Rubber washers are superior to thin plastic washers.

Pruning Shears

Lopper and Pruning Shears

Two types of pruning shears are indispensable. Larger shears named Looping Shears and the smaller shears are Garden shears.   Garden shears are small single hand held cutters resembling heavy scissors.  The pruning shears used for cutting branches and bushes are sometimes called hooknose cutters.  The most popular types of loppers are Bypass Lopper and Anvil Lopper.  The Bypass Lopper is the most common and has the most utility.  The Bypass Lopper has handles around 24 inches long.  The longer handles exerts force on the cutting head of the pruner.  I recommend this type of pruner and have   extensive use with it.  It is a go to tool in the yard when cutting branches.


Manual Pole Saw







The recommendations for saws are handsaws not electric or gasoline powered saws.

A folding handsaw will suffice for most if not all small cutting jobs where a chain saw, reciprocating saw or the power saw would be overkill.

In addition to a folding handsaw, a manual pole saw has utility and is a nice addition for those starting out and building a set of garden / landscape tools.


Finding the best push broom for the money depends on what you are cleaning up and how you plan to use the broom.  The bristles of the broom need to be pliable and soft, when picking up fine dust and debris. When picking up sawdust or sand you need coarse bristles. Toughness is also a concern, as push brooms have to be able to take heavy use without the bristles falling out or the handle bending or breaking. A 24-inch multi surface push broom has shown to work well.  The larger brooms of 36 inch move more but require more effort.

Cost Table

This table shows approximate costs for the items described in this paper. There are no PPE listed, as there is a wide variety of PPE.

The list includes good and better qualities. Prices pulled from hardware and home improvement stores web sites.

The prices, they should be used only as a guide and for comparison estimates only.

Tool Good Quality Better Quality
Pointed Shovel Short Handle 13.00 26.00
Pointed Shovel Long Handle 19.00 30.00
Square Shovel Short Handle 15.00 25.00
Square Shovel Long Handle 19.00 32.00
Steel Rake 17.00 28.00
Broom Rake 15.00 21.00
Wheelbarrow Poly 40.00 60.00
Wheelbarrow Steel 90.00 130.00
Spreader Broadcast 36.00 63.00
Spreader Drop 40.00 63.00
Spreader Hand Held 20.00 43.00
Garden Hose Rubber 30.00 60.00
Garden Hose Expandable 30.00 40.00
Shears Lopper 20.00 30.00
Shears Garden 10.00 14.00
Push Broom 15.00 25.00



1  Landschoot, Peter, “Calibrating Your Fertilizer Spreader,” Penn State College of Agricultural   Sciences.