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The tools

Guide to Gardening
bulletGround rules
bulletThe sweaty secrets behind Britain's gardening fetish
bulletWhat you want
bulletThe tools
bulletRemembrance of seeds past bulletTen worst gardening mistakes
You can go to some of the dishier garden stores and buy expensive ones or you can make do with cheap, the garden won't notice. With cheap, you'll be replacing them every year. I happen to believe in great tools - mine are finishing their second decade - but it depends on your budget. Here are the basics.

Bypass pruners, also known as secateurs, for deadheading and trimming twigs. Hand pruners come in many weights and sizes, and should be reasonably lightweight with a hardened blade. Some are designed to rotate slightly as you cut, which is easier on the hands.

Ratcheting loppers for larger items such as branches.

Two trowels, a wide dish for most planting, a narrow dish for bulbs and bedding plants.

Two shovels: a transplant spade with a long narrow dish and a border spade with a flat dish for edging and all other chores.

Gardening gloves with some flexibility will help prevent hand fatigue. Look for cotton backs so your hands can breathe. Going gloveless gives you a more discerning touch, but use a barrier handcream first.

A telescoping lawn rake (that way you'll need only one).

A long rubber hose. Do not go cheap here. Mine is now 40 years old and will outlast me.

A composter. Many municipalities now offer these at a subsidized cost. I've had them in sun and shade and they do well in either if you think of green/brown layering (green: grass, chopped up lettuce leaves; brown: the stuff from the rest of the garden). The best design has a little door at the bottom fro removing the finished compost (the worms will have departed once they've processed everything). Turn every week. Start spreading it around in week 14.

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