Choose kids' garden tools carefully

Mar 17, 2008 at 11:17 a.m. ET

For children, having a garden tool or two to call their own can add to the excitement of helping outdoors.

Before buying such equipment, however, parents should evaluate each child's age, size and skill level, as well as the quality of the tool, said Evelyn Neier, Junior Master Gardener program coordinator for Kansas State University Research and Extension.

Pride of ownership is a plus for children, as is learning to care for tools, Neier said.

But, children can quickly outgrow child-sized rakes, hoes, and shovels, she warned. Some for-kids tools may not live up to quality expectations, either.

"Hand tools and child-sized gloves may be the better buys. Start slowly, selecting just one or two items that the child can call his or her own," Neier said. "But, keep safety in mind. For example, a small trowel can be less hazardous than a sharp-pointed dandelion weeder or hand rake."

More information about Kansas´ Junior Master Gardener Program is available at any local K-State Research and Extension office, as well as on Kansas 4-H Web site: (click on "Programs" and choose "Junior Master Gardeners").