By Erin Huffstetler | 06/03/2020 | 1 Comment
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You could easily fill a whole shed with gardening tools, but over the years I’ve found it isn’t necessary. Maybe I’m just a minimalist gardener, but I find I only need a handful of tools to perform the majority of my gardening tasks.
I’ve rounded up my favorite garden tools here, in the hopes that you’ll find a few favorites that help you save money, time and shed space.
A Hori Hori Knife
This is my absolute favorite garden tool. Hori hori knives weren’t even on my radar until a few years ago, but now that I have one, I use it every day. It’s basically a hand trowel with a sharp tip, one serrated cutting edge and one smooth cutting edge. It cuts through soil and roots with ease. I use it to plant, weed and divide plants. I also use it to remove sod. Mine is stainless steel and has a cutting notch, like the one shown here. Mine also has one-inch measurements on the blade, which come in handy when planting bulbs and spacing plants. I actually own two hori hori knives. If you want garden help, you need tools for your garden helpers.
A Hand Weeder
I use my hori hori to go after most weeds, but I use a hand weeder, like this, to go after dandelions, thistles and other weeds with a deep tap root. The long forks dig down to the bottom of the root, while the arch on the back of the tool provides just enough leverage to pull the root up, without having it snap. Mine isn’t stainless steel, but if I was buying a replacement, that’s what I would go with.
A Draw Hoe
I use a draw hoe to quickly uproot small, shallow-rooted weeds that form on the surface of the soil. It’s great for removing newly-sprouted weeds before they have a chance to establish themselves.
A Sickle Hoe
I recently purchased a Japanese sickle hoe, and it’s quickly become one of my most-used garden tools. It’s basically a small, hand-held hoe with a sharp blade. It allows me to weed around established plants with greater precision, and saves me a ton of time weeding. My husband loves it as much as I do. Mine is a Tomita Nisaku Sickle Hoe with a four-inch blade. I chose it because it’s stainless steel and because the reviews indicated that it had a much stronger weld than other sickle hoes.
I have four trugs, and I use them endlessly. I fill them up with weeds; I use them to mix up batches of potting soil; and I use them to haul our harvest indoors. The built-in handles and flexible material makes them easy to carry, and they hold a ton. They’re great because they’re sturdy, lightweight and easy to clean.
I originally bought a set of leaf scoops (aka hand-held rakes) to allow me to pick up bigger handfuls of leaves, when we were grinding leaves for mulch. But this spring, my girls discovered they’re also excellent for scooping up piles of pulled weeds. They’d be awesome for spreading soil amendments, too. Next time I spread mulch, I’m going to try using these, instead of a shovel. Shoveling mulch has always killed my shoulders. Isn’t it great when you buy a tool for one purpose, and end up finding a bunch of other uses for it?
We don’t like to solve pest problems with chemicals, so when thripes, aphids or another garden pest becomes an issue, we often solve it by whipping up a batch of homemade insecticidal soap (recipe coming soon). A spray bottle works fine for small infestations; but for large infestations, a sprayer is nice to have. It allows you to treat a big area quickly, and really saves your trigger finger.
Sprayers are cheap, so buy a new sprayer for this purpose, and label it, to ensure it doesn’t get used for anything else. You don’t want to accidentally introduce any chemicals to plants you intend to eat.
I own a pair of basic, no-frill bypass pruners, like these. I use them to prune small branches and vines. I also use them to cut and dead head flowers. I like the placement and simplicity of the safety latch.
For larger pruning jobs, I use bypass loppers. They make faster cuts than a pair of pruners, and the long arms make it easy to work overhead and get into hard-to-reach areas.
This is the only electric tool to make my list! We use a no-frills, corded Black and Decker hedge trimmer to quickly prune and shape our mature hedges. Up until a couple years ago, I did all my pruning with hand tools, but this is a gazillion times faster, and it’s much easier to shape shrubs in sweeping strokes.
Brass Hose Nozzles
I have no love for plastic hose nozzles, so I keep an eye out for brass nozzles at yard sales and estate sales. Every one of our hoses has a brass nozzle on it. I just like the simple, rugged, reliable design.
Post Hole Diggers
The post hole diggers come out whenever we have trees to plant. They get the job done faster than a shovel, and eliminate all the hunched over, back-breaking work.
A Digger Bar
With our clay soil, a digger bar is an essential companion to our post hole digger. It’ll break through hard soil, roots, and other obstacles, and help you dig out rocks, so you don’t damage your post hole digger and wear yourself out in the process.
Have a favorite gardening tool that didn’t make my list? Tell me about it in the comments.