Yard maintenance is not easy or cheap, but it can be extremely rewarding and fairly affordable. To get started, you’ll need an arsenol of the right tools. Some tools are “must-haves,” while others can be rented or borrowed on an “as needed” basis. This is our guide to the top five tools you’ll want to have on hand for yard maintenance.
Landscaping and yard care tools homeowners should buy
As a homeowner who wants to keep the lawn looking neat, you will have to mow regularly as long as you live in your house, and owning your own lawnmower will save you $20 every weekend to the kid up the street. A lawn mower may be one of the most costly investments you make in your yard; they can cost upwards of several hundred dollars. However, considering how often you’ll have to mow your grass, the investment will quickly prove worthwhile.
Picking one: When choosing a lawn mower, consider your budget, the size of your yard, and the effort you are willing to expend. Self-propelled mowers are nice, but if you’re young and healthy, you may be willing to spend a little less on a push mower that will give you a calorie burn. What kind should you buy? Wal-Mart has a cool lawn mower finder tool online where you select your yard size, and then you receive ideas for which mower to buy. Not sure if a specific lawn mower you’re eyeing is going to “cut it” ? (Literally and figuratively.) Browse reviews by other homeowners at the page for home and garden tools on ConsumerReports.org.
Cost: You can find a cheap manual lawn mower for under $100, or a fancy, expensive riding mower for over $2000.
Where to buy: Any home improvement or hardware store should sell lawn mowers. From Target to Kmart to Lowes, and everything in between.
What you need to know: Remember to buy gas. You’ll find this at (where else) the gas station. Get a gas can that seals tightly and won’t spill gas in your car when you transport it home.
A good, sturdy wheelbarrow is the quintessential lawn care tool. You may scoff at this old-fashioned aid, but when you’re mulching, creating new flower beds, or putting out new rock or gravel, a wheelbarrow will save your back and get landscape supplies where they need to go.
Picking one: A plastic wheelbarrow will not be as durable as a steel one, and may even break in cold weather, but if you never plan to transport very heavy material, it could work for light gardening. Steel wheelbarrows, by contrast, can handle anything from light to heavy material. Keep in mind that unless you store it in an enclosed space, steel can rust, too. Wheelbarrows come in a variety of styles – one or two wheels, straight handles or a bar across the front. Try pushing them at the store and consider the ground you’ll be pushing it on.
Cost: From $30 to over $100, wheelbarrows come at a variety of price points and quality levels.
Where to buy: Home improvement or hardware stores. Browse different kinds online before you go into the store, and read a few reviews before you select one.
Where to buy: Online, in stores, at your neighbor’s garage sale, etc.
What you need to know: Wheelbarrows are extremely helpful for transporting and dumping garden supplies, but they can be difficult to maneuver, especially across bumpy ground. If you don’t want to deal with the awkwardness of a wheelbarrow, consider a wagon – which will still give you wheels to get landscape supplies from point A to point B.
It’s not sexy, but a rake is a classic necessity. From clearing out dead debris from gardens to spreading landscape mulch to aggregating your lawn’s collection of fallen leaves, rakes are a vital – and less expensive – tool in lawn care. If you’re landscaping a yard and spreading dirt or sand, a sturdy rake ensures you get the most coverage out of the materials you’ve bought. For a helpful way to calculate the amount of material you’ll have to spread over your lawn or garden with your rake, consider our material calculator at the top of our website.
Picking one: Manufacturers make rakes in bamboo, plastic, and steel. Depending on the intensity of the raking you plan to do, any of those materials may work well for you. Bamboo and plastic rakes will be more lightweight and appropriate for leaf raking and light lawn raking. Steel rakes can provide more sturdiness and give you faster, more powerful lawn coverage. You can also find ergonomic rakes.
Cost: You can find a rake for $8-$30 depending on the kind you buy.
Where to buy: Tool stores, home improvement stores, and even the grocery store sell rakes. They’re not hard to find.
What you need to know: Rakes come with heads from 8 inches wide to 24 inches wide, and their tines come in varying widths as well. It can be helpful to own two sizes, as large rakes can be unhelpful in small areas or corners of the yard.
A hose is a vital tool for every homeowner.
Picking one: There are garden hoses, industrial-strength hoses, lead-free hoses – lots of choices for the homeowner. Typically, homeowners garden hoses are 5/8 of an inch in diameter, according to Lowe’s Hose Buying Guide, Tape a tape measure outside and chart the distance from your water hook-up to your flower beds, garden, and the farthest corners of your lawn. Then add several extra feet to that, and make a note of the length you’ll want to buy. It’s better to choose a hose that’s too long than one that’s too short. Just be aware that the water pressure will decrease as the length of the hose increases.
Cost: You can spend anywhere from $10 to $75 on a hose. Rubber hoses are typically more costly, while vinyl hoses will be less expensive. Depending on the durability you want, and how long you want the hose to last, you can find something at every price point.
Where to buy: Hoses are at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, and any home improvement store.
What you need to know: It may eventually be useful to have multiple hoses if you have more than one spigot, especially for days when you want to have the sprinkler running but also want to water flowers, wash the car, or even water multiple areas of the yard at once.
Nobody likes a brown lawn. Get on the fast track to green goodness all summer long with a dependable sprinkler at your disposal.
Picking one: Sprinklers vary in the coverage, watering patterns, and water pressure they provide. Your lawn size will dictate the type of sprinkler you buy. A pulsating sprinkler (one that sticks into the ground and directs a hard stream of water for a specified radius around it) are good for large lawns, while a fixed or rotary sprinkler may work better for a small yard. When choosing features, consider if a timer or automatic shutoff valve will be helpful to you – or if you’ll simply be monitoring the watering yourself and could do without those features.
Cost: Sprinklers can cost you as little as $10 and upwards of $100 for a fancier one.
Where to buy: Again, anywhere that home improvement tools are sold, even on eBay or Amazon.
What you need to know: Because they sit in the yard (where kids play and lawn mowers roam), sprinklers are often victims of severe weather or yard activity, and a cheap sprinkler may not last long. Oscillating sprinklers, for example, are popular and typically inexpensive, but they are known to break easily.
Other great tools to own:
Here are a few more helpful tools you might find useful in your years of lawn maintenance.
- Edger – for maintaining straight, trimmed lawn edges.
- Shears – to use for pruning plants and cutting tree limbs.
- Spade – your everyday gardening friend.
- Hedge trimmer – to keep those bushes from overtaking the house.
- Kneeling pad – to make weeding more enjoyable, and protect your knees from dirt and rock.
- Gardening gloves – to guard your hands against scratches, bugs, and dirt.
Impress your neighbors with your readiness to care for the lawn all year long using your own tools. Your neighbors will thank you when you’re not knocking on the door every weekend to borrow their mower – and you’ll be proud of your self-sufficiency.