If you're a first-time homeowner, then you're probably green in a lot of areas -- such as how to properly care for a backyard garden.
The first step? Stock your shed with the essentials so you'll always have the right tool for whatever job comes up. Here's a list of must-haves to transform your backyard plot into a verdant oasis.
For Snipping and Pruning
Use these handheld snippers for light jobs like trimming dead leaves from plants. The best shears to buy are the ones that feel most comfortable in your hand and most effortless to operate.
You know what this is for. Depending on the size of your lawn, a simple manual mower may suffice; on the other end of the spectrum is the tractor mower.
Pruning shears; Lawnmower. Photos: Getty Images; Corbis
Use this tool, with its thin blade and deep teeth, to cut through large branches that may be too thick for your loppers to handle.
Essentially a big pair of scissors, these make precise cuts, so they're perfect for shaping shrubs.
You'll only need this if you have big projects to tackle, like removing a tree stump or cutting firewood.
Pruning saw; Loppers. Photos: Getty Images
Operate this long-handled tool with two hands to cut through thick branches.
A good substitute when you don't want to use a chainsaw, pruning saws usually have fine teeth on one side (for small branches) and bigger teeth on the other side (for large branches). They're compact, so they can squeeze into tight spaces, like the tangles of an overgrown shrub.
For Digging and Prepping Soil
You'll use this to move soil around-more important than size or shape is choosing one that's comfortable to grip.
This is essentially a shovel with a squared-off end-it's good for smoothing soil and edging work, and it also breaks through tough roots.
A basic hoe has a square blade attached to a long handle; you'll use it to help cultivate (till) the soil.
The short tines on this rake are perfect for smoothing flower beds.
If your garden has patches of unhealthy grass (known as thatch), this rake will pull it up relatively effortlessly.
This handheld tool has a scoop-shaped blade that's essential for digging holes and dividing plants.
This tool looks exactly like you'd expect it to -- like an oversized fork. Use it to turn and aerate soil and to pull up stubborn roots and rocks.
For Yard Maintenance
A classic yard tool, you'll use this to gather up dead leaves, grass clippings, and the like.
You'll use this to lug yard waste, compost, mulch, plants -- pretty much everything.
This handheld tool, with its sharp pointed tip, will give you the advantage when it comes to uprooting pesky, pervasive weeds.
Available in manual and electric versions, these long-handled tools allow you to make a neat border where turf meets your driveway.
An absolute essential, you'll use this to keep your lawn and plants watered-and maybe to cool down the kids and the dog on a scorching summer day.
There are many different styles available depending on your lawn size and needs.
This is great for small jobs when you'd rather not lug out the hose.
Keep this handy to open bags, cut twine, and for other odd jobs.
Keep your hands and fingernails clean and protect them from thorns, poison ivy, etc.
Note: You may also want to stock up on fertilizer and pesticides -- either chemical or natural -- and a spreader to dispense them. But it's best to start gardening first to learn what your specific needs will be.