There is no substitute for basic quality gardening tools like pruning shears, a watering can, and a trowel. However, gardeners can create free garden tools from recycled or salvaged materials that bring precision and efficiency to planting chores. Make these six homemade garden tools with little or no carpentry experience.
A seed dibber pokes holes in the soil, enabling gardeners to plant individual seeds or transplant seedlings. When planting seeds in potting soil, a sturdy twig or sharpened pencil is all that’s required to use as a seed dibber. For starting seeds directly in the ground or setting transplants out, gardeners can make a dibber that lasts by sharpening the blade of a broken trowel or spade. Since the user end of this homemade dibber is already designed as a handle, it will reduce hand fatigue more than a stick or pencil will.
Soil Firming Board
When gardeners fill seed starting trays with potting mix, they may notice that the fluffy mix settles considerably when irrigated. A soil firming board firms the top of the soil in seed starting trays, preparing the soil for easy seed sowing. The gardener can cut a piece of wood slightly smaller than the length and width of the tray, and then attach a piece of wood as a handle. Use a piece of wood at least ½ inch thick to prevent warping.
Soil Sieve or Compost Screen
A soil sieve is handy for screening chunks out of finished compost, yielding a fine seed starting medium for the organic flower and vegetable gardens. Gardeners can make this sieve by attaching a piece of inch plastic or metal mesh to a wooden frame. By using this soil sieve to screen compost, gardeners can save money on expensive seed starting potting mix.
Plant Spacing Board
One of the most common mistakes of the novice gardener is the overcrowding of young plants in the garden. As the plants mature, their close proximity leads to reduced air circulation, stunted growth, and fungal diseases. A plant spacing board acts like an oversized ruler that the gardener uses to ensure the proper distance between seedlings. Although an old broom or shovel handle will work, a board of at least 10 feet in length is more efficient to work with. Place marks every three inches with a saw cut or nail.
Organic gardeners can use garden lines when practicing square foot gardening, or when marking off parts of the landscape designated for new garden beds. A garden line is simply two wooden stakes with a length of twine between them. Surrounding a newly planted bed with garden lines also reminds children not to use the garden as a shortcut.
Garden Tool Cleaner
Gardeners hear about the importance of maintaining their tools often, but many fail to heed the advice of frequent cleaning, choosing instead to return their spade to the shed caked with dirt. The gardener can cut a piece of wood to the shape of his spade, and then use it to scrape the spade clean while the moist dirt releases its purchase easily.