Details Landscape Art is a design build landscape contractor in Sonoma County with projects all over the North Bay. Today’s blog is about the hand tools of the landscaping trade, and is the first of a series of safety blogs.Hand tools:

Shovels – we use a variety of shovels, each for a different use. Round point shovels are for digging holes or otherwise penetrating existing dirt. Flat shovels are used to scoop bulk dirt or stones or gravel into a wheelbarrow or move from one place to another. They are not for digging. Trench shovels, either 3” wide or 4” wide are used for narrow trenches such as for irrigation pipe. We have a small 6” wide flat shovel that we use to dig straight sided trenches such as for drainage ditches. Large aluminum scoop shovels are used to scoop and move bulk lightweight material such as bark, either into wheelbarrows or from one place to another.

Picks – picks are used to penetrate and break up hard dirt surfaces, such as adobe soil, or to excavate stumps of shrubs to be removed.

Rakes – we use lightweight aluminum rakes to smooth soil or bark after it is dumped, and also to gather leaves or other debris.

Digging bar – this is a long steel bar used for prying and for leverage in moving heavy rocks.

Large hand truck – This is a large steel carrier with two large wheels that is used to move boulders, large pieces of flagstone and 24” box trees.

Axes – used to cut through tree roots and low branches of larger shrubs.

These are the basic hand tools of the landscaping  trade.

Hand tool safety:

Before using hand tools –

  • Always buy quality tools to minimize breakage
  • Select the right tool for the job
  • Purchase tools that are comfortable in size and weight for the person using them
  • Inspect all tools carefully for dull blades, damaged handles, loose heads, etc. Replace or repair as needed.
  • Sharpen all cutting tools before using and frequently thereafter
  • Always wear safety glasses when sharpening tools with a power grinder. Never wear gloves for this operation, to avoid having a hand caught and pulled into the wheel.
  • Wear safety glasses and safety shoes when performing striking, shearing or other forceful type actions.
  • Wear sturdy gloves, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when working with dense plant materials, particularly with thorny or spiky plants.

When using hand tools –

  • Stretch or warm up before performing heavy duties such as digging, chopping, etc., to avoid muscle pulls and strains.
  • Keep sharp points of tools away from the body.
  • Take periodic rest breaks especially when performing strenuous work.
  • Keep children, bystanders and pets a safe distance away from the work area.
  • When stopping or interrupting work you should place sharp, pointed or long-handled tools so they cannot be stepped on or tripped over.
  • When not using pointed or sharp edged tools, always place them with the points or edges down to prevent people from stepping on them.

These basic common sense safety suggestions will help keep accidents and injuries to a minimum while using the tools of the landscaping trade.