It might only be January, but spring fever is in the air! Garden centers will soon be packed with people. Get a jump on the season by making sure you’ve got everything you need – including the right tools – to make your springtime tasks easier.
But first, step outside. Breathe that fresh air, and give your lawn and garden a good once-over. See if the gutters need cleaning before the spring showers arrive. Check if the wintery conditions killed or injured any part of your turf. A good inspection will help you form an action plan to restore your yard to its healthy green glory. Also consider what new outdoor project you’re anxious to tackle, from planting colorful annuals or a fresh vegetable garden to re-designing your backyard space.
Here are our recommendations for the tools to have on hand for some common springtime tasks.
A couple good rakes
Leaves and tree limbs aren’t so pretty when they’re littering your yard and flower beds. A plastic leaf rake works for leaves, grass clippings and other light debris. If you need to move dirt or spread mulch within planters and garden areas, go with a metal-toothed landscaping rake.
A lawn mower
A lawn mower is your most important tool. Make sure it will fire up when you need it. Prepare your mower for spring now by sharpening its blades, buying back-up blades, and changing the spark plug and air filter. If you’re ready for an upgrade, gas-powered mowers are great for lawns of all sizes and terrains, but require more regular maintenance and can be loud. Quieter electric mowers, which run on batteries, work well for smaller yards. Just recharge them after each mowing.
You’ll need pruning shears to remove small branches damaged by winter frost. You may also need a lopper or extendable tree pruner to reach higher or thicker tree limbs.
Use a string trimmer to tame your lawn’s edges that the regular mower can’t reach. Grab an extra spool of line while you’re at the hardware store so you don’t run out mid-task.
If some areas of your turf did not survive the winter, you’ll want to be ready to remove and replace them. A half moon cutter works well for creating sharp, neat cuts through the dead grass. You’ll also need a turfing iron, which slices underneath the cut patch and severs the grass roots. Then you’re free to install new turf.
Before you sow the first seeds, you’ll need a garden rake or hoe to remove brush, twigs, branches or other debris from the soil. A garden hoe can also break up the soil, making it easier for planting. A gooseneck hoe can slice through any weed roots. A hand spade can help you dig or loosen the soil to prepare for planting.
A fertilizer spreader
To get that perfect, vivid green color, keep your grass well fed. Pull out your fertilizing spreader as soon as your lawn begins its most active growth. A drop spreader distributes fertilizer evenly through an opening at the bottom. A broadcast or rotary spreader drops fertilizer from the hopper into a spinning disc. Drop spreaders have less waste, but it’s easy to miss areas. Broadcast spreaders will take you less time and evenly spread fertilizer across your lawn.
Keeping these tools in good repair can save you time and money, and make landscaping easier. Inspect each one before you use it for bad handles, corrosion or rust, cracked housing on power tools and exposed wires. Clean each tool after use. You can use a simple rag to clean off hand and garden tools. Unplug power tools and wipe them down. Lubricate any moving parts with machine oil to prevent metal-on-metal scraping. And make sure to store your tools in a dry place. Hang garden tools, and store power tools in their original cases to keep moisture away.