Thursday, February 21, 2019

10 "Essential" Garden Tools

Photo courtesy Zac's Garden

Search the internet, and there are numerous lists of “essential” garden tools. Of course, your list will differ from others, based on the size and scope of your gardening efforts, your experience, the growing conditions in your landscape and your gardening goals. Following are ten of the most common tools that seasoned gardeners have in their shed.

Gloves. Gloves should be durable but not too bulky, especially for working with seeds or transplanting seedlings. Fit is important, as poorly fitting gloves can cause blisters or result in accidents from slipping off. Look for gloves that are both water resistant and breathable. It’s helpful to have 2 pairs handy so you can switch them out when one pair becomes too wet or muddy.

Scissors. Plain household scissors, nothing fancy, are a first choice for many gardeners. You can use them to deadhead flowers, snip herbs, harvest small vegetables, cut string, and open a bag of potting soil or a seed packet.

Hori Hori, photo courtesy

 A soil knife. The Hori-Hori is a hands-on favorite of many gardeners.This is a Japanese multi-purpose tool with a stainless steel concave blade with a sharp edge on one side and a serrated edge on the other. It can be used for cutting through roots, transplanting, dividing perennials, slicing through sod, weeding, removing plants from pots and countless other garden tasks. It does the work of several common hand tools.

Water hoses and water wands. Even if you have a sprinkler system, you’ll be needing hoses and wands.  Purchase hoses that are flexible, will coil in any weather, and are kink-free. The length will depend on the size of the area you are watering. A water wand with a shut-off valve is convenient because you can turn the water on and off without constantly going back and forth to the spigot.

 A sharpshooter shovel. This is a small, compact shovel with a long, narrow blade that is curved and digs deep holes. It is more efficient than a long-handled, broad-bladed traditional shovel for digging in hard clay soil typical in Colorado. 

Pruning shears Hand pruners help reign in plants that are getting out of control and taking over. Anvil-style pruners cut with a sharp blade meeting a flat surface, similar to a knife on a board. Bypass pruners cut with a sharp blade passing by a sharp-edged flat surface, more like scissors. 

Hoe.  Your type of garden will dictate what type of hoe is best for you. A veggie garden may require a sturdy, wide hoe. If you have perennial gardens, a more delicate touch and a thinner hoe may be required. Weeding hoes, also called hula or stirrup hoes, have an open square head and are pushed back and forth just under the soil surface to cut down top growth.

Wheelbarrow. Traditional dual-handle, single wheel styles can be harder to balance heavy or unevenly distributed loads. Single-handle two-wheel models are easier to balance, better for those with limited strength or when dealing with uneven terrain.

Camera. Not only can you capture that perfect vegetable or plant at the peak of beauty, but the photos serve as a great reminder when you are trying to remember what you planted where in previous seasons. Most cameras also take videos, a real bonus for gardeners. In this age of the cell phone cameras – this one is easier than ever!

A garden journal. A journal serves many purposes: to note what creates success and challenges in a given year; to capture ideas for the future; to remind yourself of upcoming tasks. Keep it handy so you’ll remember to jot down thoughts frequently.

The Bottom Line: It’s easy to go overboard when purchasing gardening tools. They can take up a lot space and cost a lot of money, but staying focused on the basics can keep your storage area from becoming overcrowded. There’s always bigger and better, but buying the best quality tools that your budget will allow, and maintaining them, can go a long way in getting the most out of your investment.