Tools (Gifts) – Choosing

I was out working in the garden last weekend, doing final cleanup chores for the winter. I’m a rather haphazard gardener so in the process of cleaning up I discovered several tools I’d mislaid during the summer. The wooden handle of one trowel was so rotten that it was unusable. Another trowel, which had been outdoors for the same length of time, was unscathed.

As I hung various tools in my shed, I thought about why I prefer each one. I have great prejudices when it comes to tools. Some, like cotton work gloves, are almost disposable after a few uses. Others, like hand pruners, must be of high quality because I use them almost every weekend.

I’ve already heard the first rendition of “Jingle Bells” in a radio advertisement. I figure it is not too early to list my favorite garden tools and my sentiments toward them. Maybe some gardener (perhaps even you!) will receive something useful during Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanza celebrations.


Round point shovel – I like a long handle more than a short handle. It gives me more leverage when I’m turning over a new bed in heavy clay soil. Some women, on the other hand find a short-handled model easier to use.

Trenching shovel – the narrow tip lets me get all the way under the plant when hoisting shrubs out of the ground

Spading fork – there’s nothing better for digging bulbs or exploring root systems when transplanting

Corona(tm) trowel – there are other excellent trowels but this is my favorite due to its all-metal construction and bright red handle


Felco(tm) #2 hand pruner – I would not be without this fine tool. The addition of a leather belt holster makes it easy to keep at hand when you work in your landscape.

Folding pruning saw – granted, it won’t cut a big limb, but it is excellent for pruning in myriad tight places

Mulching mower – They are more powerful than others and they truly chop grass so fine you won’t see it after mowing.

Long-handled lopper – steel or thick wooden handles insure that you can apply all your strength to the job. I much prefer bypass blades rather than the less-expensive anvil blades. I’m partial to WOLF-Garten, Corona and Felco models.


Water hose – Apex FluidMotion(tm) hoses are guaranteed not to kink and that promise has held true in my experience. The brass connections are heavy duty and damage resistant.

Water wand – second in importance only to a water hose. The wand transforms a damaging blast of water into a gentle cascade.

Watering can – look for a filler hole on the upper side rather than directly under the handle

Soaker hose – I must have a half-mile of soaker hose snaked among my beds and shrubbery. It minimizes evaporation loss, puts water just where you want and allows for surreptitious irrigation if you forget to water on your assigned day.

Water timer – how are you gonna know how much water you apply without using one of these? The easy-to-use ten dollar model lets you set it and forget it.


Heavy leather sandals or clogs – I wear mine twelve months of the year. When my feet are muddy it’s no hassle to slip out of them by the front door, avoiding connubial contremps.

Leather gloves – indispensable when pruning roses or using a post hole digger

Kneeling pad – my AARP-eligible knees aren’t padded like they once were; a thick pad keeps pebbles from embedding themselves in my kneecap.


2 pesticide sprayers – one for herbicides, one for applying everything else

Rotary fertilizer spreader – Earthway and Lesco are two good brand names but I use my hand-held Scotts HandyGreen(tm) for many seeding and fertilizer applications.

Computer – I use mine constantly. Whether looking up miscellaneous information on Google or finding flower recommendations at the University of Georgia Extension Service horticulture publications, I find my computer to be the best resource for gardening information.

Wheelbarrow – I grew up using a standard, single-wheel barrow but my neighbor finds them unwieldy. I recommend an aluminum Tipke Fold-It Utility Cart(tm). It is lightweight, maneuverable and sturdy. Now I steal hers whenever I can!

Jute twine & heavy scissors – I’m constantly tying back recalcitrant rose canes and limber shrub branches that impede my garden progress. Jute twine is easy to tie, inconspicuous, and it decomposes after a single season.

See also Tools Recommended by Other Gardeners

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