Garden Tools and Gear
It’s a fact: good gardeners need good tools. Here are a few of our suggestions for tools that will make you a better gardener.
The Right Stuff
Bypass Pruners are a better choice than anvil pruners, which crush stems when they cut. There are plenty of acceptable choices, depending on your budget and your hand size. Ask five avid gardeners about favorite hand pruners, and you’re likely to get five different responses. Here are three popular favorites, for good reasons: they’re easy to sharpen, ergonomic in design, and have replaceable parts.
Felco F-2 Classic Hand Pruner is comfortable and light. Parts are readily available.
Bahco Ergo Bypass Pruner (pictured) has a high carbon blade that stays sharp, and comes in small, medium, and large sizes.
ARS Signature Heavy Duty Pruner is ergonomic in design, and also comes in three sizes.
A Sharpener will help keep your pruners in good working order. Look for one specifically designed for hand pruners, such as the Swiss-made Istor sharpener (pictured), that will slip easily into the tight space between pruner blades.
A Hand Weeder is your constant garden companion. Here are two popular weeders:
The Cobrahead Weeder (pictured on following page) is rugged and versatile. Use it for rooting out weeds, planting, and cultivating. Cobrahead designer Noel Valdes refers to it as a “steel fingernail.”
The Leonard Deluxe Stainless Steel Soil Knife (pictured) is great for digging, dividing, planting bulbs, and more. Plus it has a serrated edge to cut through roots and twine.
Shovels and Spades vary widely in design. For digging in clay soil, you’ll want a spade with a narrow tip, such as the Radius PRO Ergonomic Stainless Steel Transplanter (pictured). For edging, choose a spade with a sharp, flat blade. For general work, buy a quality tool with a strong handle that connects solidly to the blade. Proportions are important—if you are tall, you may need a handle that’s taller than the standard 48 inches. The HERShovel from Green Heron Tools (pictured) is proportioned for women, and designed by women. A good shovel should last a lifetime, and then some.
A Digging Fork is good for loosening soil, or incorporating compost into your garden. A cheap fork will not last; you get what you pay for. Look for a comfortable handle and a forged steel head. Radius Garden PRO Ergonomic Stainless Steel Fork is one sturdy option. Another is the Spear & Jackson Traditional Digging Fork.
All Purpose Gloves should be tough, washable, and inexpensive. Atlas Nitrile Garden Gloves (pictured above) fit all those criteria. In addition, you’ll want a pair of leather gloves for specific tasks that require better protection, such as pruning roses.
Loppers are for cutting branches larger than your hand pruners can handle—3/4 inch or more in diameter. Look for an easy-on-the-body design with gears or rachets, such as Fiskars PowerGear Loppers (pictured above), which come in several sizes.
Pruning Saws are essential for shaping shrubs and removing dead or fallen branches. Some fold for easy transport, and others come with sheaths. Corona, Fiskars, ARS, and Stihl all make multiple versions in various sizes. Pruning saws get dull over time, so purchase a saw file also. Sharpen both sides of each blade tooth—a slow but effective process.
Last but not least, A Wide-Brimmed Garden Hat is an essential piece of equipment. Look for one that’s washable, and that has a chin strap so it doesn’t fly away on windy days.