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Cool tools

By Nzong Ziong

McClatchy Newspapers

FRESNO, Calif. — With the coming spring tempting folks to spend more time outside, many people may be eyeing their flower beds, wondering what new plants would make great additions or replacements.

However, to do that requires having the right tools. To help you, a couple of gardening experts offer their suggestions.

Michelle Le Strange is a University of California Cooperative Extension farm adviser and the Master Gardener Program adviser for Tulare and Kings counties.

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She recommends, in no particular order, a Hula-ho for weeding, hand-held pruners for shaping bushes and plants, and a 5-gallon bucket to hold clippings or weeds that she removes.

She also likes to have a shovel handy.

"I’m always planting and moving things around," she says. "Now is a good time to transplant. I like to transplant with a shovel (rather) than a hand-held trowel. I like to take a bigger chunk of dirt out and put it in a slightly bigger hole. I have better success this way."

The last item is a pair of gloves. "That’s the first thing I grab when I’m going to go garden," says Le Strange, who prefers leather ones. "I can do a little raking and can stick my hands in places that I wouldn’t if they were bare."

Mike Ravicchio, owner of Evergreen Garden Center in Clovis, Calif., also recommends a good pair of gloves and pruners. Another tool he suggests is a bulb digger.

"It looks like a long cup with a handle on it," he says. While used primarily for digging holes for bulbs, "people also can use it for their bedding plants, and then they don’t have to hassle with using the trowel."

A skinny leaf rake, about 6 inches wide, also comes in handy for cleaning up flower beds, he says

Lastly, he suggests a garden fork.

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"With the clay in our soil, you can go in and around the plants and scratch the soil" with this tool, he says.

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