Maintaining a lush, attractive lawn isn’t always a walk in the park, but the results are always worth the effort. Fortunately, with the right tools in hand, landscaping chores can become far less daunting, even enjoyable.
Whether you’re a novice looking to take to the soil for the first time, or a seasoned professional who needs to invest in some new state-of-the-art gear, this list of the top lawn care tools to have in your arsenal is sure to provide some valuable insight.
Investing in a good pair of gloves (or three) is the first step toward maintaining a healthy landscape. Gloves protect from scrapes, blisters, and minor burns, but that’s only part of the reason why it’s important to choose a high-quality pair that fits well.
When a work glove is too tight, it restricts hand movement, making it difficult to operate the tools you’re using correctly. Tight gloves are also very uncomfortable, which could lead to fatigue and frustration before you’ve properly completed the job.
Loose gloves, on the other hand, pose even more of a hazard. In addition to restricting hand movement, loose materials are at risk of getting caught in the equipment, causing disastrous injury. Always be sure that your gloves fit correctly before using them for yard care, especially when operating power tools.
Additionally, a glove should be made out of a durable material that provides comfort, as well as protection. Which material you choose depends on what type of lawn care you’ll be doing.
If you are trimming wood, for example, you’ll need a sturdy leather glove that protects from sharp splinters. For weeding and raking, a simple canvas glove works fine. Lawn mowing requires a nylon glove with a light coating (such as nitrile or polyurethane), to allow you to maintain a solid grip on the equipment without sacrificing dexterity.
Speaking of lawn mowing, lawn mowers are undoubtedly the most valuable lawn care tool on this list, With that being said, it can be far too easy to walk into a hardware store and purchase the first lawn mower that you see, but this would be a mistake.
Having a basic understanding of the different types of mower—and which ones are best suited to your yard, helps you narrow your search. Our reviews of the best lawn mowers on the market right now can also help you choose the right mower for you.
Gas Mowers vs. Electric
Gasoline-powered lawn mowers were once the industry standard. I find them useful for many reasons: They have a greater range of motion than their electric counterparts, as they don’t need to be close to a power outlet or battery source.
They’re also much more straightforward to maneuver on hilly landscapes or lawns that contain a number of large trees or other obstacles. Additionally, when it comes to handling very tall, thick grass, a gas-powered push mower is the only way to go.
However, electric mowers have their good points as well. They’re the best choice for small, flat lawns that don’t contain a lot of trees or shrubbery, and they make a great deal less noise than gas-powered models.
They’re more environmentally sound, start quickly at the push of the button, and require very little maintenance. If you have a small yard and plan to keep the grass trimmed regularly, then an electric mower should suit your needs just fine.
Push Mowers vs. Self-Propelled
Similarly, if your yard is small (less than a quarter-acre), you’ll be fine with a push mower. These mowers rely on the operator to control their forward movement, and as such, they require a great deal more exertion when covering a large yard. For this reason, people with larger yards (say, up to three-quarters of an acre) would do better to invest in a self-propelled mower.
The wheels on a self-propelled lawn mower operate automatically—the operator merely guides it on its way. They come with front-wheel and rear-wheel drive options. I like to use rear-wheel models when operating on steep hills; the rest of the time, I prefer the easy maneuverability of a front-wheel drive.
If you have a huge yard, consider investing in a riding mower. This cuts down on the amount of time and energy spent on cutting grass, saving both for when you really need them.
The lawn mower has one significant drawback: It can’t reach to everywhere that weeds can grow. That’s where the string trimmer comes in. Also known by the slightly earthier name of “weed whacker,” these power tools are invaluable for trimming the grass and weeds that grow close to the foundation or stone walls of a property.
If there’s significant growth around your mailbox, a string trimmer can clean it up in a matter of seconds. The long handle allows it to fit under decks and porches as well. I’ve found that with a bit of practice, I can even use it to edge out the corners of my mowed grass, giving it a distinctly professional appearance.
I realize that I’ve devoted a lot of this list so far to trimming and cutting, but there’s a simple reason for that—grass and weeds grow, fast. Therefore, the act of keeping them under control represents a significant percentage of the time spent on lawn care.
To help you decide which garden shears to invest in, here’s a list outlining the differences:
These are the handheld, scissor-like units you’ll be able to find just about anywhere, even at the local dime store. They’re best for removing dead growth from simple household plants and decorative greenery, but not sturdy enough to handle much else.
A step up, these larger models are best suited for trimming the outside shrubbery.
Since I’m a bit obsessive about keeping the branches from brushing against the sides of my house and outbuildings, I find that these wood-cutting shears come in handy on a regular basis. If you live in a more urban setting, they may not be necessary.
No household should be without a good rake. Aside from removing leaves, rakes can be used to remove dead grass to prepare the lawn for spring growth. The right kind of rake can also serve as an efficient grooming tool. Here’s a brief rundown on the various types that you might come across.
These are the most commonly seen rake, with a full fan of metal or plastic tines for sweeping up large swaths of leaves. Look for one with a wooden handle—it won’t get as cold when you’re raking in chilly weather, and it’ll be easier for your gloves to maintain a solid grip.
this is a narrower, shorter rake with a claw-like appearance, generally used for mulch distribution. If you’re planning on doing a lot of gardening, then you might want to invest in one of these.
The short, inflexible metal tines of these sturdy rakes are ideal for leveling soil or other fill.
Having a high-quality wheelbarrow is almost as good as having another pair of hands. They’re excellent partners when it comes to transporting leaves, soil, mulch, or fallen branches. I’ve even used it to “carpool” some of my lawn equipment from one side of the property to another.
A wheelbarrow is one of the few items on my list that can do double duty as a decorative item: Nestle a few pumpkins inside during the autumn harvest, or fill it with decorative greenery and twinkling lights when the snow begins to fall.
When I first started tending to my lawn, I didn’t understand what the point of these tiny shovels could be. Wouldn’t it be more comfortable and less time-consuming to buy a spade and be done with it? However, that was before I realized the intricacies of gardening and shrub work.
Planting seeds and bulbs requires a more precise tool than a large metal plate, and a hand trowel fits the bill perfectly. If you have a vegetable garden, consider investing in a trowel that includes markings on the blade to help control your depth measurement.
Seed and Fertilizers Spreader
Gardening enthusiasts should especially appreciate these nifty gadgets, but they aren’t the only ones. Any lawn that has dying or dead patches will benefit from the aid of a good seed or fertilizer spreader.
For lawns that are just getting started, or have suffered damage, load the spreader with grass seed and disperse it as needed. If your yard is looking limp and drab due to lack of water or attention, the unit can be used to spread fertilizer across the entire area.
While some folks might consider this to be a luxury item, I can personally attest that the right leaf blower is a game-changer as far as lawn cleanup is concerned. With one of these, there’s no need to enlist an entire team of people to rake the yard. Just use the rakes to clear the areas closest to the house, beneath the shrubbery, and around the tree roots. Fire up the leaf blower and use it to direct the leaves toward the perimeter of the lawn. The first time I used one, I felt as if the job had been done for me.
This would be an essential tool even if it were never used for any other purpose. And the best part? It can also remove dust and debris from the driveway, evacuate dead leaves from the gutter, or power-clean the outside of the garage or shed. Some models even have a reversing or “vacuum” function—an ideal feature if you want to transform your lawn debris into mulch.
As long as I’m on the subject of so-called luxury items, I might as well bring up the chainsaw. Some might balk at the inclusion of this power tool on the list, as it’s not essential for simple lawn care needs. However, no area is immune to bad weather, and downed tree limbs can present a definite hazard no matter where they are. A chainsaw can make short work of these obstructions, which could be helpful to the neighbors and pedestrians as well as yourself.
For simple trimming jobs, a 14-inch blade works fine, but if the branch you’re planning to cut is bigger than a medium-sized limb, then I recommend a 16- to 18-inch bar.
If your home is in a wooded area, then it’s probably best to choose a longer bar length, just in case. Don’t bother with a unit that comes equipped with a blade longer than 18 inches, unless you’re a professional.
Before operating a chainsaw, it’s vital to have the proper safety equipment. In addition to a sturdy pair of leather gloves, you should wear a safety helmet and goggles, and make sure your clothes are close-fitting without being too constricting. Read all safety information carefully.
Now that you know the top lawn care tools to have in your arsenal, you’re ready to get down to the business of turning your property into a little slice of heaven. While it takes a dual investment of time and elbow grease to get the results you crave, it won’t be long until your lawn and garden become the talk of the neighborhood.