The best garden tools are extensions of your hands, allowing you to accomplish tasks that would be difficult otherwise.
They’ve come a long way from the days of flimsy trowels and weeders. The newest tools are adapted to the way we garden today, designed for efficiency, comfort and ease of motion.
At the Garden Club, we have favorites that we reach for over and again. Here they are.
1. Soil Scoop
First up, a soil scoop. This single-purpose tool deserves a place on your potting bench. Sure, a trowel can perform the same task, transferring potting mix from bag to container, but the scoop makes a tedious chore less time-consuming.
It’s not a replacement for a trowel — I wouldn’t try to break up hard garden soil with it — but if you enjoy container gardening, you will get a lot of use out of a soil scoop.
In a nonscientific test at my potting bench, the Ames Ergo Gel Grip Soil Scoop held two cups of soil vs. the trowel’s one cup. Plus, the high sides easily keep the soil in the scoop, not scattered over the work surface.
2. Hori-Hori Knife
The hori-hori knife is a versatile tool that makes short work of opening bags of mulch or potting soil. The hori-hori is sturdy enough to dig holes for bulbs, slice through sod or break up root balls when transplanting shrubs.
Look for a serrated edge that will slice like butter through hard dirt or pot-bound plants. The Sun Jo Hori Hori comes with a vinyl sheath and belt loop to keep it at hand while outside.
My fellow Garden Club Editor Renee Valdes can’t live without a good pruner. “A sharp one can cut almost any branch in a flash!” This time-saving tool makes pruning shrubs and plants a snap. Both bypass and anvil styles are useful. Bypass pruners give clean cuts, while the distinguishing feature of the anvil style is a sharp blade that meets a solid, flat surface, the anvil. This makes for smooth cuts through tough plant material.
4. Pruning Snips
At the other end of the pruner spectrum, we’re both fans of pruning snips. I keep mine at hand when trimming window box and container plants on the front porch. An anvil pruner is too much tool for tender vegetable and floral stems. Pick up pruning snips and trim away yellowing or dying leaves and when making cut floral arrangements. Take them into the vegetable garden to harvest tender greens and other vegetables when a delicate touch is needed.
Our final selection for a can’t-live-without tool is a billhook. This invaluable tool clears brush like a machete without the fear factor. When you have brush to clear, approach with the billhook in one hand, leaving the other hand free to grab and gather the cuttings. The contoured, textured handle provides control and keeps the tool safely in hand. A little bit of work with a billhook makes a new garden space a reality.