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Suggestions for a newbie landscaper

West Des Moines, IA(Zone 5a)

Hello all,

I'm a first-time home buyer and thrilled that I finally get real dirt to play in! I've been limited to containers and houseplants for so long. In any case, I could use some advice on tools. I know I'm going to need a lot of garden tools - right now I have watering cans and a set of pruning shears, that's about it! What do you think I absolutely need to get started? All of my money is going toward the house so I'll be on a pretty strict budget at first. The house we want to buy has .18 acres and it's new so it's just got sod, pretty much. (I'm going to squeak some money out of the budget for trees, shrubs, and perennials.)

I was hoping to find good, tough, old-fashioned hand tools (trowel, cultivator, hoe) on Craigslist but so far I haven't had much luck. Would I be better off just buying new stuff at Lowe's or

Thanks for the help!


Southern California, CA

The tools depend on the type of property you have. Sounds like you have a new lot with no trees. Get tools as you decide you need them. Don't load up on a lot of tools. It's just more stuff to store in the garage and care for. Keep your gardening life and life simple and see how many tools you can work withOUT and not how many tools you can work with. Landscaping a house seems easy, but it is hard as heck. Landscaping is a complicated art form. A nice plan can enhance you home and anything else will make it look worse and be very depressing. Hire a landscaper if you want the best job. They buy their shrubs and trees wholesale-so the cost is not as high as you might think. If you cannot do this, hire a landscaper to make a plan for you and you do the work. Or hire a landscaper for a 3 year plan and do a portion of the scape each year. In addition to pruners, you'll need a hose and someplace to put the hose (I have a little wheeled thing made to store hoses-it's a pain to use, but it keeps hose neat) , a hose nozzle and a shovel. I have a small shovel-not much bigger than a hand trowel, but with a long handle. It's easier for me to handle. If you're determined to landscape this yourself-you'll need landscape spray to spray white outlines where you want your shrubs and trees. First you place your hose in a pleasing shape and then white line where the hose was. Look at houses in your area to see what you like and what shrub is growing well. Copy all the good ideas you see.

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

I guess by now you've figured out you need a snow shovel.

J2222 is so logical. The one thing you need more than anything else is patience. It's more of a marathon than a sprint.

If you are new to your area, do a lot of investigating to see which shrubs, trees and flowers grow best in your climate and soil conditions. Make friends with your neighbors. That makes it easier to borrow a tool you'll need only once. If you like to plant flowers, buy a sturdy trowel and a cultivator (3 bent fingers). As I have bent more than my share of trowels and handles in firm soils, a forged set is the only way to go.

As you start to thaw, decide where you want grass, where you get the best sun for flowers and vegetables. In the fall, you may decide to put in bulbs, but won't know until August or September.

Instead of focusing on gardening tools, make sure you have the basics that every homeowner needs: hammer, screwdriver and friendship with the people in the local hardware store. Enjoy your new home!

springfield area, MO(Zone 5b)

you probably won't need many tools for awhile, I would start with a good wheelbarrow and a shovel. Gloves and good shoes of course.
You will need water hoses to water the new things regularly.
If you plant trees, keep in mind they will need staked for a while until they settle in.
If you are going to lay rock or do heavy work, you may find a two wheel hand truck handy. You might even borrow one of those.
A good pair of hand pruners to keep the new shrubs and trees in shape for awhile. Depending on what you plant and the look you want, you probably won't need any serious shearing done, until the bushes get a little size on them in a couple years.
You should do some research/ thinking on what you want, go to the library and get garden books. Might give you some neat ideas and find a look that you want. Avoid planting trees or large shrubs too close to the house, and avoid planting anything invasive -no matter how bad you want it.
you should start with larger items first. Trees, pond, water features, tables, benches, pathways, ect. Then the flower beds themselves, and last the perennials, small shrubs and bulbs, detail items like wind chines or birdhouses ect. Situate your flower beds where water is easy to get to.
You may also need a plan to deal with yard waste. Grass clippings, tree limbs, leaves, ect. Either a compost, burn area, or haul them off or combination.
A place to store yard junk, such as pots, buckets, wheel barrow, compost, ect. Things you need, but won't want or have room for in the shed most likely.
also you may want to think about future children you may have? If you spend a lot of money and time landscaping the back yard and then a little one comes along and wants a play set, pool, trampoline,,, well there goes your work and your money! So you may want to leave a play area open, or fence off some part of the yard, or just keep your landscaping in the front/back or whatever.

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

Deidre, I just looked again at your post. Rather than going online for used tools, check out tag sales. You might even meet another gardener who will tell you how the tool(s) were of help.

If you don't already have one, plan on a tool/yard shed.

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