Tools that are most commonly used in gardening include a spade, a shovel, a gardening fork and pruning shears. Other tools are different types of hoes, trowels and rakes.
Though spades and shovels look somewhat alike, they each have a different purpose. The spade may be the most important garden tool because it is used for digging, trenching, slicing through sod and for planting shrubs and trees. A shovel, with its concave shape, is used for moving soil and other materials. Both of them come in different sizes, and the best ones are made of stainless steel.
A gardening fork usually has square tines that narrow to a point. Large ones have long handles such as spades and shovels, but handforks are good for planting and hand weeding. Pruning shears come in sizes from hand pruners to long, telescoping bypass loppers for high branches. These tools need to be kept sharp, for dull blades only crush branches instead of cutting them cleanly. This can lead to disease and infestations.
Hoes help to aerate the soil and keep weeds down. Like shears, the blades of hoes need to be kept sharp. The trowel, like the handfork, is good for digging and planting bulbs. Rakes are for clearing areas, and rakes with springy, flexible tines are ideal for clearing away autumn leaves.