As a master gardener, these are the tools I’ve come to rely on. Some were recommended to me, some I discovered on my own, some my husband Chris found for me. They’re not color-coordinated to match my patio decor or my complexion, and they’re not cheap. But I’ve come to value them because they perform well and they last.
No one becomes a gardener just by reading and taking others’ recommendations. You learn by trial and error–lots of trial, lots of error. But having a few good friends to share it with can make all the difference. These are mine.
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Trowels have a bad habit of breaking off where the blade joins the handle or at the blade tip. This trowel is one solid piece of cast aluminum from tip to toe and stands up to use much better than conventional trowels. The heavy-duty grip overlay fits your fingers and helps cushion them. I have two similar to this one that I’ve had for many years.
I leave this in my bag of potting soil all season. I like it for scooping growing mediums better than a standard trowel because it holds more and contains the soil better. If you buy a sturdy one like the one shown here, it won’t rust under those conditions. You also want to make sure the handle is hardwood, like this one.
Any glove of this type will likely work well. The trick, if you’re a woman, will be finding a medium or small to fit properly. The adjustable arm strap helps keep out dirt so your hands stay clean as well as protected against injury. They’re washable (I usually hose mine off), and they grip well. They also wick away hand sweat. I’m hard on my garden gloves and have destroyed more than a few pair in one use, but these usually last three years or so. The first place to go? The fingertips, of course.
I’ve never liked kneeling pads. They’re never large enough OR cushioned enough. I had one in molded rubber one time that even gave me blisters! Since the cartilage in my knees is shot, I sit on a low seat to garden rather than kneel. Chris found this lid/seat for me. We had a five-gallon bucket we’d bought birdseed in, and it just snapped on. The bucket has a handle, so it’s easy to carry with me as I garden, and I store stuff inside—trash bags for clippings, a bottle of water, etc.
I use this for loosening soil and lifting plants. It’s easier for me to pierce the soil with several narrow tines than one wide blade. The tines on the fork I had before this one bent and eventually broke off. This isn’t the brand I own (no longer available), but look for a forged steel business end and an unpainted hardwood handle. Why unpainted? Manufacturers paint the handles to disguise cheap, soft wood beneath.
Chris prefers regular shovels, but he has a lot of upper body strength. This spade is the right size for me to dig holes (if I can’t get him to do it for me!). As with the fork, look for a forged steel blade and a hardwood handle. Buy a good one up front, and you’re set for life.
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