In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook shares tips for using his four favorite gardening tools—five if you count his hands.
1. Your hands are perfectly suited for working a garden, but when tools are needed, start with a one-piece steel garden trowel. The one-piece construction resists breaking and can withstand digging in the hardest soil.
2. A trowel that has inch graduations marked onto the blade is convenient for digging holes to precise depths without having to use a ruler.
3. A three-tine cultivator is useful for removing weeds, busting up hard soil, loosening matted root balls, and scratching in fertilizer.
4. When working densely packed soil, consider getting a heavy-duty cultivator that has a long handle, thick tines, and a sharpened blade.
5. Use a spring-loaded bulb planter when planting bulbs in soft soil. Push and twist the planter into the soil, then lift to remove a plug of soil and create a planting hole.
6. Place the bulb in the hole—pointed tip facing up, of course—then press the spring-loaded handle to release the soil back into the hole.
7. Poke seed-planting holes into the garden with a dibble. The pointed, tapered tip of the dibble makes it easy to create holes of various diameters and depths.
8. The farther down into the soil you push the dibble, the wider and deeper the hole.