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How To Make Your Garden Hand Tool Work

* Comfortable working methods,
* Efficient easy to handle garden tools,
* Gets more done with less hassle.

Garden hand tools are a pleasure to use if you know how. And when you have gardening tools that are well-designed for the jobs you do, then you'll really want to get out in the garden and use them.

The information on this page will help you garden any ordinary sized plot with manual long handled garden tools. Power driven garden tools are on this link, small garden hand tools here. Check below and you'll soon be gardening with a smile.

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A Comfortable Upright Posture For Weeding and Cultivating

This page is about using long-handled gardening tools to remove weeds, cultivate and prepare soil for seeds and plants. I have other pages on using digging tools, and about garden spades and forks on these links.

Long-handled Garden Tools  Long-handled gardening tools in U.K.  +  Long-handled gardening tools in America

First let's start with a brief look at the range of long-handled gardening tools and what they are used for:-


  • Three Tined Cultivator:- the flanges on my heavy duty version work like a plow to lift earth, make furrows and drag out spreading weeds, roots and all - highly recommended by the-organic-gardener.com,
  • Soil Miller:- breaks down soil lumps into a fine tilth ready for seeds and plants - highly recommended by the-organic-gardener.com,
  • Rake:- grades and levels the soil ready for sowing and planting - also used to work in top dressing fertilizers and cover broadcast seeds - there's several designs of rake on this page,
  • Maintenance

  • Hoe:- used between plants and rows to chop off annual weeds that grow from seed, - hoes are variously designed to suite particular jobs and gardeners live with their favourites - but check this link for more on hoes.
  • Swoe:- the most versatile, light, high qualilty hoe. You get three sharp blades on a small perfectly angled head. Use for surface weeding close to plants and seed drilling - highly recommended by the-organic-gardener.com,

Choose Handle Length To Suite The Job

When choosing spades and forks your own stature is an important consideration. But the essential difference between long handled tools and

Garden Raker
140cm handle = 83cm reach
shorter long-handled tools is more closely related to the particular job you want to do.

Narrow borders and planted areas require shorter long-handles and a steep angle of attack using the 'Gondolier' method - see below.

Long beds, new lawns and ground preparation, require original long-handles preferred by landscapers to make level ground using a shallow angle of attack. These tools can be worked from lower down the handle if necessary.

Gardening Tip: Interchangeable tool heads, and handles of different lengths found on this link, provide the most compact, effective, and versatile solutions for your choice of garden hand tools. unmissable & highly recommended by the-organic-gardener.com

Two Ways to Work with Long-Handled Tools

Avoid cramps by gently warming up your muscles before the work starts. With long-handled tools loosen up your wrist and fingers with a few exercises.

Short Reach Method - 'gondolier':

Keep an upright stand-easy posture. Hold the top end of the handle in a fist grip at about shoulder height and push down. The second hold is another fist grip lower down the handle. Use this method to work garden hoes with a short down stabbing action.

Close-up work with shorter long-handled rakes involves a steep angle of attack. Straight tines are best here.

Short Reach Method - 'sweeping':

A sideways sweeping action can be used with soil rakes to gather stones and with wire rakes to make a seed bed.

Long Reach Method - 'rowing':

Stand astride and side on to the job like a sword fencer. You can adjust your height by flexing your knees. Keep an upright stand-easy posture.

Your rear hand grips the end of the tool handle at about waste height and works backward and forwards. Your thumb is aligned along the shaft. The leading hand grips the tool part way along the shaft and presses down or lifts.

Flexing the knees slightly during the stroke helps take the strain and adjust your height to keep the back straight, not stooped. Avoid using your back to push and pull the cultivator. This is work for arm muscles applied to cultivators, the soil miller, and long-handled rakes...

Note: To give you a more natural ergonomic hold on long garden hand tools why not try adding the side grips available from this link.

Long-Handle Garden Tools  click to select your region >>  + 

Safety with Garden Hand Tools

Leave long garden hand tools standing with their heads up. Standing on a rake head is no fun when the handle comes up to whack you. Always keep the tool head 'in-your-face' where you can see it.

In the garden keep all your tools conveniently together. Lean them up against a fence but never lying around loosely or across paths where they can be tripped over. Sounds obvious? Well take a step back.

Take special care if you are using long handled garden tools in and around polytunnels. A rip will be costly.
  • You'll find lot's more pages of information on other gardening tools by following these links:-

Check out my Garden Tool Shed for information on larger tools, power tools, and other useful gardening resources for the potting shed and garden.

Get more information about weed problems and how to tackle them.

  • ALSO on The Organic Gardener:-

    My Neighbour's Garden

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