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Gardening Tools in English

Summer is on its way, and if you are lucky, you may have a garden in your yard that you can take care of. To do that, it may help if you know the names of the gardening tools that you may need. Let's take a look today at some of the English names of some standard gardening tools.


This is what parts of Australia looked like before the European settlers arrived with their axes and saws.

Captions 14-15, BBC Planet Wild: Alien Animals

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An ax is used to chop through the trunks of trees and large branches. The word is made plural by adding "-es" for "axes." Sometimes the singular word is written as "axe," which is grammatically correct, but perhaps a bit old-fashioned. "Ax" is also a verb, "to ax." Thus you can ax a tree down, or you can cut a tree down with an ax.


A saw is used to cut through the trunks of trees and large branches. The plural form is, as you see in the example above, "saws." You can also use "to saw" as a verb. Thus you can saw a tree down, or you can cut a tree down with a saw. A saw that is especially made for cutting branches is called a "pruning saw."


I rake the leaves with a rake.

Caption 25, The Alphabet: The Letter A

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A rake is a gardening tool with a long, usually wooden handle. It has a wide metal fork with hooked ends that allow you to gather leaves and yard debris, much as you sweep with a broom. As you see in the example above, "to rake" is a verb and a "rake" is a noun.


We helped with hands and wheelbarrows, shovels and sweat.

Captions 46-47, All Hands: Volunteers Appeal Video

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People have to shovel their driveways and sidewalks in front of the house.

Caption 43, The Seasons: Winter

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A shovel, also called a spade, also usually has a long wooden handle. Its end is a triangle-shaped flat metal piece that is used to dig holes in the ground or move dirt, sand, and even snow. As you see in the second example, "to shovel" is also a verb.


A wheelbarrow is a cart with one wheel in front and stands in the back that is used to carry dirt, sand, and other similar things. There is no verb derived from "wheelbarrow," and usually its usage is "to push a wheelbarrow."


And anyone who laid it on with a trowel...

Caption 18, The History of English: Shakespeare

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A trowel is similar to a shovel, but much smaller. It works well for making small holes to put potted plants into the ground. The phrase "to lay it on with a trowel" is also an idiom, or saying, that means "to exaggerate."


People have lawn mowers and they mow the lawn.

Captions 27-28, Sigrid Spring Musings

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A lawn mower is a machine used to cut the grass or lawn. Some of them are manual and require a lot of force to push them by hand. Most lawn mowers today have electric or gasoline motors, and some even have powered wheels. There are also lawn mowers called "riding lawn mowers" that you can sit on and drive.


Further Learning
Go to Yabla English and study the captions in the videos above to get a better idea of the contexts in which references to these garden tools have been made. You can also go to this site and see a long list of different kinds of gardening tools.