The Short List — perfect garden hand tools
Everyone has a short list of the tools they would not in the garden without. However most of us have used trial and error when purchasing hand tools. A bright, shiny rack of tools is sooo seductive. Sales people can be incredibly persuasive. A friend buys one and so you must have one too.
How many tools have you bought, tried and given away because they were just not right? They didn’t quite fit the size of your hand or the balance was wrong for you or they were quickly lost in the garden once you laid them down because they were dirt colored or …. For whatever the reason we have all been through this.
So here I will stick my neck out and make recommendations from my personal shortlist of hand tools. This is a list of 7 tools I consider essential. You will find a new tool listed here weekly as a short series. Check back in and I invite you to respond with your options as well. (My email is [email protected])
#1 Tool Belt
As a relatively new gardener, I first tried hauling a canvas garden bag (complete with organizing pockets) around the garden. It was sturdy and tough (I still have it) and very organized. But I found it was always in the wrong place when I needed it….Just out of reach containing the tool I wanted.
So I switched to a tool pocket that you thread on to our own belt. I quickly found this was a pain to deal with when threading it on and off the belt. And when I eventually gave up wearing belts altogether with my pants, the pocket went away.
I then bought a tool belt. Mine has its own belt of nylon webbing, a quick release snap clasp and a light weight double pocket with a nylon mesh outer layer that drains away water and dirt. It will hold a hand trowel, a pruner, gloves and there’s loops to hang other small things from. It is not perfect because eventually the pruner always works a hole through the mesh pocket. But it is light weight, easy to get on and off, always within easy reach and not expensive to replace.
There are other belts out there the real trick is to find one which fits you, does not get in the way while gardening and when fully loaded, is not too heavy.
My belt is similar to this one…
#gardentoolbelts #gardenersphonepak #fasitegardentoolbag
Hands down my all-time favorite pruner is a Felco. I love Felco pruners because the line is extensive (pick the ergonomic shape of your choice) and they make pruners to fit small, medium and large hands. OMG what a novel idea? Choices! AND you (you, not a repair shop) can replace every piece of the pruner with a new part as it ages.
I have had my #6 Felco pruners since I began to garden seriously in “1980 something”. I’ve replaced the blades almost annually and given them a good cleaning now and then and they continue to be my “best garden buddy”.
By the way because the handle grips are red plastic you never lose them in the garden. And the plastic is Phthalate free (if you don’t know what that is…here’s a link to more information: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/supported/assets/docs/j_q/phthalates_the_everywhere_chemical_handout_508.pdf )
#Felco #gardenpruners #gardentools
Felco makes loppers as well as pruners. They are an investment and I lust for a Felco lopper. But currently I use a Dramm lopper because it is more affordable. This lopper is nicely balanced and can be sharpened and it is telescoping. The handles are a bright color so they are difficult to lose in the garden.
#Felco #Dramm #gardentools #gardenloppers
#4 Hand trowel
Some folks swear by a Hori Hori for digging, planting bulbs, weeding, etc. I have never used one but I’d welcome comments on the tool from those who are converts.
I use the humble hand trowel. The only real specifications I have is the handle fit comfortably in my hand at a comfortable angle and the handle be a BRIGHT color so, like every other tool I have, it does not get lost in the garden (forget wooden handles they may be romantic but impractical).
For years I have used a poacher’s spade in place of a shovel. The blade is narrow and long. The wood handle is about 38-40” long. It is short enough to be able to get over the top of it and yet sturdy enough to be able to put your weight on it without fear of it giving way. Most people use this spade for transplanting and planting blubs…I use it for everything.
Clarington Forge makes an excellent spade worth checking out. (Even Dan Hinkley likes this one.) https://www.claringtonforge.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/x650/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/5/5/5514102820.jpg
#gardenspade #poacher’sspade #gardentools #claringtonforge #danhinkley
After using rubber and reinforced PVC hoses for a very long time, I grew weary of dragging a heavy, inflexible hose after me and finally hunted down a lightweight, collapsible hose. The Pocket Hose has won my heart. When empty of water it is light and even a 50’ hose collapses into a pile of fabric and fittings which pack into a small space. No more struggling to coil a hose that is constantly fighting against you. A caveat: when not in use do not keep the hose under pressure. You are inviting an eventual blowout.
One lesson here: There are now competitors to The Pocket Hose on the market so pay attention to the construction of the fabric which should be tough and yet flexible. And look for metal fittings not plastic which can crack and the threading on the connections can be stripped – even the Pocket Hose has a model which has plastic fittings…buy metal instead.
#pockethose #gardentools #gardenhose
I prefer a pistol grip nozzle with settings you can click into place rather than a nozzle that you adjust the spray by twisting the end of the nozzle. The latter nozzle simply increases or decreases the amount of water that shoots through the nozzle which goes from a jet of water to a spray pattern.
My favorite nozzle is by Dramm. It has 9 spray patterns to choose from shower to a flat pattern to a dribble, etc. Once again I like that the nozzle comes in bright colors which are difficult to lose in the garden and the body is metal so heat and cold do not affect it. One slight flaw is that the handle has a wire keeper which when flipped will keep the handle in the open position so you can relax your hand when watering continuously—a great idea. But the wire keeper easily falls off and is never to be found again. If a fix could be found for this it would be THE perfect nozzle!
#Dramm #hosenozzles #gardentools