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Garden Tools Everyone Should Have

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

I have gardened all my life (over six decades, but who's counting?) and I have discovered that 'less is more' - of all the many tools I've bought (and been given) over the years, there are a few basics I use all the time:

Obviously, good hoes (wide blade and 'devil's point), shovels (pointed blade, flat blade and 'sharpshooter' - a narrow, deep blade for digging in close spaces) and rakes (leaf and tine) - I have two of each style shovel and rake, for those occasions when I have help in the garden and two people need the same tool at the same time.

Hand tools include trowels, clippers and pruners (again, two of each) and one very special tool my daughter gave me for Christmas last year - a Japanese garden knife. This heavy duty knife has a curved blade, so it can be used as a trowel or to dig out an especially tough weed, and the edge of the blade is very sharp and serrated, so I can also use it to trim off lirope, cut back ivy and even saw a small branch, if needed.

Other than that, you can keep all the bulb planters, hand rakes and gimmicks you see in catalogs and hardware stores. Next time I clean out my garage, they all are going in the trash.

Here is the Japanese knife.

Thumbnail by LeawoodGardener
Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

You can buy the knife here:

I use mine almost every day.

Thumbnail by LeawoodGardener
Ramona, CA(Zone 9b)

Thanks LG. This is the second post I've seen on this knife. Evidently folks tend to like it.

Belleville , IL(Zone 6b)

My nephew is an Arborist and also a landscaper. He had the Serrated knife tool you showed. I have wanted to get one ever since he did work for me and I saw how versatile it is.
He used it when he was making a good base for some sod. The area had a lot of small roots from the neighbors trees reaching into my yard. I was impressed.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

My must-have tools are my rubber-palmed gloves and my Fiskars steel "unbreakable" shovels.

The gloves I get at the dollar store for a buck a pair. So I stock up when I go there. I used to never wear gloves. Then someone gave me a pair of these and they fit like skin. They keep my hands dry and clean and I was surprised to discover that my hands don't sweat in them even tho the palms are rubber. The gloves are lined in a knit fabric, so my hands aren't actually against the rubber.

My Fiskars unbreakable shovels are all steel with wide "steps" on the blade to put my feet. They cost about $40 each and have a lifetime warranty. I had broken so many shovels over the years--4 or 5 of them a season. I've had these Fiskars shovels for several years and haven't broken them yet. I did bend one pretty badly when digging up a huge clump of zebra grass. But Fiskars said they knew people use shovels to pry shrubs out of the ground and they made these tough as steel.

I also have a homemade trolley I bought off Craigslist for $5. It's one of the best $5 I ever spent. I call it my double decker plant trolley. The base is actually an old lawnmower. I carry it to plant sales with me so I can load up what I want to buy. People always stop to take pictures of it so they or their husbands can make it for them. But for all the plants I want to drag back to my van, I need a bigger trolley. So maybe I'll build one. LOL

Thumbnail by ButterflyChaser
Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

I got a Fiskars pruner with a rachet and a rotating handle last spring. It is great. Because it has a rachet it cuts easier, and because the handle rotates it does not cause blisters!

Tulsa, OK(Zone 7a)

Fiskars makes a very good garden knife, "Fiskars Big Grip" that is available at Target, Home Depot, Walmart and others. It sells for less than $10.00

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

That's good to know, Rocco! I like Fiskars' pruners - they are my favorite of several varieties I own.

Tulsa, OK(Zone 7a)

I have quite a few Fiskars garden tools. They are well made an a lot less expensive than some of the leading brands. My favorite Fiskars tool is the Pruning Stik.

Belleville , IL(Zone 6b)

I like a good gardening fork. I have trouble breaking the ground with a shovel and can get into the soil with the prongs much more easily. I found a heavy duty stainless steel one on sale years ago and cannot garden without it.

Big Flats, NY(Zone 5b)

I use a Stirrup hoe for just about all my weeding in beds and gardens. This hoe gently rocks back and forth to easily undercut weeds.. If the gardener runs a metal file over it the hoeing is faster and smoother. This hoe is the best I have to weed closely and smoothly around more fragile and younger plants in mixed beds and in rows. Keep a local purchase address handy as a very large number of folks who try yours will want one ! Cut to the chase, your cultivation tasks will be easier, less fatiguing and quicker. I am a disabled gardener and am so glad I have this tool. God's Love to all Lee McDonald

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Lee, great reminder! A few years ago, my wonderful stirrup hoe finally went to that big toolshed in the sky...and this year I planted a veggie garden after a few years of I'd better get another stirrup hoe before the weeds take over!!

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9a)

Here are the tools I use most often and would call my favorites:

Pruners - Felco F-2
Shovel - Fiskars all steel as mentioned above. Unbreakable!
Misc - a Hori Hori (the Japanese knife mentioned by several here).
I also find myself using those orange "Homer Buckets" from Home Depot all the time. They are cheap and convenient.

Leawood, KS(Zone 5b)

I agree GARDENSOX! I have about a dozen of the buckets (orange, yellow and white, depending upon where I got them or what came in them - lol). I have so many of them because I use them constantly and some projects require several buckets.

I take one out with me each morning as I deadhead, pull weeds, etc. When I'm done with my rounds, I dump it in the compost pile.

When I'm putting a plant in the middle of as established bed, I dig the hole and hold the dirt in a bucket until I'm ready to fill in around the plant. That way I don't disturb the surrounding plants.

When I change the contents of the cast iron garden urns, I scoop out all of the dirt, placing it in a bucket. Then, depending upon the consistency of the dirt, I either toss it on the compost pile or mix in some new potting soil and use it for fill in the planter, after I've taken out all dead roots, etc from the previous season.

I use tons of horse manure in my garden each year. Since I don't own a pickup, my 1994 Honda Del Sol is my 'garden truck'. I can fit exactly 9 five gallon buckets in each load (three on the floor and in the passenger seat next to me, six in the trunk, if I leave the lift-off roof home in the garage. More than once I've been on my way home from the stable when a quick rain storm started. I drive a little faster and get a little wet - LOL).

In the spring and fall it is not unusual for me to make 6-7 trips to the stable where I collect my 'garden gold' over the course of a weekend. I spread a layer on my annual beds and have them tilled each spring and fall and plant my banana trees using horse manure to line the hole and for fill dirt.

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