It’s important to regularly evaluate your toolshed to ensure your landscaping company has the equipment it needs to get the job done. Whether it’s basic services like mowing grass or larger ones like cutting back out-of-control hedges, having the right tools for the job will guarantee your team can complete their landscaping jobs safely, on time and under budget. To help you get started, we’ll cover some essential tools every landscaping business needs.
While they're the most simplistic of all tools landscapers use, the benefits of hand tools cannot be overlooked. Hand tools allow your employees to extend their natural reach with precision to get into difficult areas or work a wide area more efficiently. Some of the most popular hand tools for landscapers include:
Rakes – Rakes are valuable for sweeping up leaves, loose soil and plant debris, but did you know many types of rakes are available? Leaf rakes are among the most popular, made of plastic or metal with a wide head designed for gathering large amounts of leaves at once. Shrub rakes feature a petite design to fit between plants without damaging them or getting stuck. Thatch rakes feature sharp blades to remove accumulated debris that can build up in the grass, while garden rakes move and smooth soil. For tips on how to pick the best rake for the job and what to look for in a good rake, check out this article from Garden Gate magazine.
Shovels – Every landscaper needs a good, dependable shovel. Much like rakes, there are many different models of shovels, each designed for a different job. Whether your job site requires round-tip, square-tip or all-purpose shovels, always remember to shop for quality. Shovels made of heavy-gauge metal will likely outlive synthetic and wood-handled varieties, but if you prefer wood, remember to keep them clean and dry, conditioning the wood regularly to avoid damage.
Trowels – Trowels are designed for use in small, tight spaces such as garden beds, borders and containers. When seeking out the best trowel, ask yourself what kind of ground or soil quality your employees often encounter. If they regularly complain about dense, compacted soil, find a model with blade edges that can easily cut through even the most difficult lawns. Additional handy characteristics include strong materials, a hammer end for putting in garden stakes, a measuring gauge for depth and an ergonomic handle to reduce repetitive motion injuries.
Shears – Cut back an out-of-shape boxwood, drooping hydrangea or out-of-control rose bush with a reliable pair of garden shears. Don’t let their small size fool you; hand-held shears can boast incredible cutting power in a small package, capable of slicing through branches 5/8-inch thick. When selecting shears for your business, it’s essential to know what jobs your landscapers will face. General-purpose, hedge, grass and pruning shears — some even offer telescoping handles for hard-to-reach limbs — are just a few available types.
Hand Carts: Garden Cart or Wheelbarrow?
With three wheels and the ability to enter tight spaces while ferrying heavy loads, wheelbarrows are the workhorses of many landscapers when transporting items across job sites. Garden carts, which generally come with four wheels and have a larger capacity than your average wheelbarrow, can also be a beneficial solution to landscapers when moving heavy or unwieldy loads. The advantages and disadvantages of both, include:
Capacity – Many garden carts can handle heavier loads than wheelbarrows, and, with four wheels, they’re designed to be stable. Wheelbarrows require more effort from the operator to move and are prone to tipping once loaded up, leaving your workers vulnerable to injuries if they misuse them.
Maneuverability – Due to their design, wheelbarrows can move easily across nearly any terrain, whether loaded or unloaded. Depending on the style of wheels used and how heavy the load is, garden carts can have difficulty rolling across uneven lawns, gravel and other rough terrain.
Materials – Both wheelbarrows and garden carts come in various materials, ranging from polymers and plastics to metal alloys. Be sure to pick the material that is rated best for the weight and types of materials your team is carrying. For projects in very small or tight spaces, look at foldable or collapsible options made of lighter materials.
No matter your decision in the garden cart or wheelbarrow debate, know which assistive devices like these are essential to your employees' continued health. Regularly carrying or lifting oversized loads can lead to overexertion, back sprains, muscle pulls and other injuries, according to information published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Electric tools not only save your landscaping crews from overworking themselves — they can also help save the environment. Electric tools have changed significantly since the first cordless power tool, a screwdriver from Black & Decker, appeared in homes and toolkits in 1961. Now, many commonly gas-operated tools — such as mowers, trimmers, chainsaws and more — are being traded in or sold in favor of their electric counterparts, according to a 2023 article from Consumer Reports.
Unlike their gas-powered counterparts, electric tools are quieter, meaning your crews are less likely to disturb homeowners or residents of apartment complexes. They’re also less harmful to the environment. According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), operating a gas leaf blower for an hour can create as much smog-forming pollution as driving a Toyota Camry 1,100 miles.
Before shopping for electric tools, evaluate whether you want them to run cordless on a battery or be plugged into a power source. Battery-powered tools may require you to recharge batteries frequently throughout the workday, depending on how heavily they’re used. Conversely, plug-in tools will limit your workable range by tethering your team to available outlets, even with extension cords. Some popular electric landscaping tools include:
Chainsaws – Beneficial for cleaning up downed trees and branches, chainsaws are highly flexible tools that should be in every landscaper’s toolkit. When shopping for an electric chainsaw, make sure the battery life can accommodate your landscaping company’s workload or invest in additional batteries. Select a model with all the necessary safety features to help mitigate the risk of injury. Your employees should be trained to operate this piece of machinery safely.
Mowers – Lawnmowers come in a variety of shapes and sizes that can be suitable for every budget, from commercial walking mowers to zero-turn riding mowers. Depending on the model you choose, they can be a significant investment and difficult to transport, so make sure you’re purchasing one within your means. If you have heavy workloads, paying a little extra for additional features, such as mulching or bagging grass, can help make clean-up a breeze.
Trimmers – Also known as “weed eaters” or “weed whackers,” trimmers use short plastic strings to cut back plants, such as tall grasses and weeds, in areas that mowers can’t reach. Trimmers work best for neatening small, hard-to-reach areas; they aren’t a replacement for heavy-duty edgers that can cut through thick grass and roots to create an attractive border. Additionally, reloading a trimmer is a common complaint, so look for a model that promises a simple replacement process.
Tools make landscapers’ jobs easier, but heavy tools such as chainsaws can also pose risks to your employees and, by extension, your company. Ensure all your employees are properly trained on every new piece of equipment, and contact MNLA’s insurance expert, Ashley Thomas, for a free risk analysis to ensure you’re fully protected. Learn more about available coverage at gallagheraffinity.com/mnla or contact Ashley Thomas of Gallagher Affinity at 918.764.1619 or email@example.com for a coverage review.
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