Stephanie Hudak maintains her business, Creative Gardens, in Madison, Georgia, and specializes in custom-designed containers. She is a freelance writer and frequent speaker at garden clubs and events.

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Cool Tools For the Garden – Great Gift Ideas
by Stephanie Hudak       #Tools

Giving a gift to someone you care about certainly feels good – giving them a gift that you also love makes the event even more special. Ask any gardener about their favorite tool and you will surely hear about at least one item that they always carry with them into the garden. I have several that have become so special I hesitate to even loan them.

The Hori Hori Knife is my first “go-to” tool. With its stainless steel blade and serrated edge, it can do so many jobs: weeding, cultivating, cutting and digging; and the blade has depth markings to help with accurate plantings, especially bulbs. The convenient carrying case allows you to hang it from a belt, but it is large enough not to get lost in the tool bucket. There are a number of companies producing similar knives and all should work well, just be sure to get the stainless steel version.

It may look dainty but the Dramm ColorPoint Compact Shears is capable of some serious cutting. It is small enough to fit into a pocket but can be counted on whenever you need to deadhead or prune annuals, perennials and even small branches. Besides adding a cheery note to the task, the bright colors really help to keep track of the shears. The companion pruners are just as small but capable of handling bigger jobs. And while we are talking about colorful garden tools let me mention another item in the Dramm line that is useful and pretty to have around. Carrying water to container plantings is bad enough, so eliminating any weight from the can was important to me. The lightweight watering containers are also well balanced to avoid spills. All the bright colors in the Dramm line kinda makes an ordinary chore not so ordinary, and a pair of bright purple gloves, matching pruners and watering can would make a wonderful gift for any gardener.

 

 

Speaking of gloves, I’ve tried many different kinds over the years and my first choice now is a pair of Foxgloves Grip. The special nylon feels cottony soft but they are extremely durable. With all the yummy colors they come in you will feel elegant mucking about in the dirt while the 50+ UPF rating will provide protection from the sun. Another great attribute is how easily they wash and quickly they dry.

 

 

Even though I grab my foxgloves first, if I am planning on messy, wet work, my next go-to glove is the Atlas Nitrile. They really hold up in wet and muddy situations but are still flexible enough for handling small items. Another favorite of my fellow gardeners, that seems to go “hand-in-hand” with these great gloves, are Felco pruners. They come in different blade angles and sizes so there is sure to be one that will fit your needs. The quality and craftsmanship of these pruners should make them a staple in everyone’s tool bucket.

 

 

There are probably a few gardeners out there who actually like to weed, but for most of us it is not the chore we rush out to do. Thank goodness a few tools have been made that can help take the “yuck” out of that task.

Years ago a friend’s buying error allowed me to be the recipient of another great garden tool – the Dutch Hand Hoe by Dewit Tools. This is a tool that must be purchased specifically for the right or left hand, which is what makes it work so well. The blade is offset for greater control and balance and the smaller size of this hand hoe gives you better control when you are working in densely planted beds. There are a number of similar tools sold under different names, but I have found that this one produces the greatest impact for the least amount of effort. Not only does this tool make short work of weeds, it is great for creating small holes for planting rows of annuals or vegetables. And it is guaranteed for a lifetime.

 

 

For those weeds that need a stronger attack, I have seen the Ames True Temper Dual Action Garden Hoe in action and can attest to how well it works. (This tool can also be found under the name Hula-Ho.) Just looking at this tool I was doubtful that it could do anything – the blade didn’t appear to be at all sharp and I couldn’t even see how you were supposed to use it. But I watched it cut through thick, dense weeds growing in hard, dry clay soil and it had no trouble doing its job. The handle is long enough that you don’t have to hunch over to get the proper action and the easy back and forth motion that you use with this tool helps eliminate back strain which can come with regular hoes. Yes, I did find a big ole fella to do the demonstration (this was his favorite tool) but I was able to make the magic happen myself and I’m a small, not so strong, female.

 

 

There are some garden tools that you just gotta exclaim about and these next two deserve a definite “Wow, that is so cool.” The Trake (now doesn’t the name alone make you stop in your tracks?) is two sturdy tools in one. The measured trowel is pointed for easy digging and the rake is narrow enough to cultivate between crowded plants. It’s made of lightweight, solid cast aluminum with a comfortable vinyl grip. This can definitely become the one tool you carry with you for multitasking. And here is an extra added benefit for us older gardeners: It makes a great standard for helping to get up from the ground after you have done all that weeding and digging.

 

 

My absolute favorite garden helper is the Tipke 2100 Marine Foldit Utility Cart. I don’t own one yet but have used a fellow gardener’s on a community garden project and have put it at the top of my Christmas list. Don’t let the word “marine” in its name confuse you – this cart is perfect for the garden. The marine-grade aluminum keeps off rust and corrosion and a quick hosing makes for easy clean up. It can carry up to 330 pounds of material, mainly because it puts the load over the wheels for easy maneuverability, and the 20-inch pneumatic tires provide flexibility over rough terrain. But my two favorite aspects of this cart are the removable front panel that allows you to load and unload materials easily and the fact that it “folds” into a long flat piece requiring minimal storage space – less than 2 square feet.

 

 

There are many pruning saws on the market but I was recently given one that is small enough for me not to feel like I should be in an Edward Scissorhand’s movie, but strong enough to easily cut good-sized limbs. The Corona Clipper 7-Inch Razor Tooth Folding Pruning Saw allowed me to cut down small trees and prune limbs too large for loppers. Because it folds into itself, carrying the saw is safe and easy and the easily depressed lock allows the blade to extend for use. It does come in different sizes for bigger jobs, although not always folding.

 

 

A rake is a rake – so one would think – but I found one that is fun to use. Yes, I know, raking is one small step above weeding on the garden task to-do list, but the Telescoping A-Just-O-Rake is the neatest thing ever. The easy-to-use lever allows you to quickly extend the tines from a tightly closed position to a full broad sweep, 7.5 to 24 inches, making it easy to rake materials such as acorns, pine needles and leaves. In its smallest position, it also makes the world’s greatest pooper-scooper. The triple-tempered tines make it strong enough to move around hardwood mulch material, and because it is adjustable, it is perfect for those tight places around patios or under shrubs where you usually have to get on your knees to arrange the mulch. For those of us who don’t have nice garden sheds to store all our tools, the A-Just-O-Rake and the Tipke Foldit Cart are ideal multi-purpose, small space-saver tools.

 

Now that you have gathered all these neat tools, you need a way to tote them around the garden and I have the perfect suggestion – the Fiskars 9424 Garden Bucket Caddy. The sturdy canvas construction assures you long-lasting use and the many different-sized pockets allow you to carry lots of tools but get to them quickly and easily. Heck, there are even pockets for your cell phone and a cool drink. The caddy fits perfectly around a 5-gallon bucket that you can pick up at your local big-box store, which is useful for holding and carrying yard waste to the compost pile.

 

 

 


Find this and other books by Elizabeth Lawrence in the SBS Bookstore.

After this busy day in the garden you might want to sit on the patio and read a pleasant book to relax your mind, and A Southern Garden by Elizabeth Lawrence, the esteemed plantswoman, is guaranteed to not only relax you, but to inspire you. It is filled with the plant knowledge Ms. Lawrence gained over the years and her lyrical writing is guaranteed to plant a little “peace” in your life.

There are many wonderful garden tools on the market designed to make the job easier and more fun. The ones mentioned here are just a few that have proven themselves worthy over the years and the sources are just suggestions to get you started. With the holidays coming it is the perfect time to give your favorite gardener – and that could be yourself – a “cool tool” to use. Happy Gardening and Happy Giving.

 

 

 

 

Resources

First, always check your local garden centers since they carry many of these cool tools. There are lots of online resources as well, and here are a few.

The Hori Hori Knife – www.gardentoolcompany.com

Dramm ColorPoint Compact Shears, Pruners and Watering Cans – www.rainwand.com

Foxgloves Grip – www.foxglovesinc.com

Atlas Nitrile – www.horizonsltd.com

Felco Pruners – www.felcostore.com

Dutch Hand Hoe by Dewit Tools – www.gardentoolcompany.com and www.foxglovesinc.com

Ames True Temper Dual Action Garden Hoe – A.M. Leonard: www.amleo.com

The Trake – www.foxglovesinc.com and www.earthlygoods.com

Tipke 2100 Marine Foldit Utility Cart – www.thedistancedepot.com

Corona Clipper 7-Inch Razor Tooth Folding Pruning Saw – www.groworganic.com and www.coronatoolsusa.com

Telescoping A-Just-O-Rake – www.horizonsltd.com

Fiskars 9424 Garden Bucket Caddy – www.cleanairgardening.com

 

Posted: 11/07/11   RSS | Print

 

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