When you need to move large amounts of soil or other earthen matter, do not — I repeat — do not go buy a tractor. If you really need one, you can rent a tractor. But think long and hard about even doing that. Tractors burn nasty fossil fuels and belch pollution, and they keep you from having the deeply meaningful experience of shoveling soil into a wheelbarrow day after day. Sustainable landscaping means minimal dependence on powered equipment. You don't have to become a fossil-free zealot, but use human power when you can. Sure, shoveling isn't as much fun as driving a tractor, but just think how fit you'll be!
The following list shows some basic muscle-powered tools that can get you through the majority of your earth-related tasks:
Old, ugly tools work just as well as new ones, so getting them at a garage sale — or borrowing them from a friend — is fine.
Long-handled tools are much easier on the back than short-handled ones. If you have to buy tools, be sure you buy ones that are of high quality — they do a better job and last longer (which is very sustainable).
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