Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What’s in your tool-box?

What tools are your “must-haves” for gardening? Mine are relatively few and pretty low tech. It seems there is always some new fancy tool/toy being reviewed on the popular garden blogs, but my tried and true garden companions are powered only by me (nothing that plugs in or requires gasoline) and decidedly not fancy. At the top of my must-have list are my little red handled scissors. I do own a couple of proper clippers but these little scissors (someone told me they are bonsai scissors?) are my go to for just about everything that requires cutting. I’ve owned them for over 10 years (I’ve recently taken to sharpening them) but have no idea how old they really are as they were given to me by an ex, he found them in his garage and thought I could use them. I should also add that the only reason I still have them after 10 years is the red handles which make them easy to spot when you leave them lying around the garden…or accidently dump them in the yard waste bin along with the garden debris.

Next up are my two tubtrugs. I love these things! I was using an old galvanized bucket but my husband bought me the larger of the two tubtrugs when he saw it at Garden Fever, it was so useful that I later bought the second smaller one. You name it and these can help you do it. Haul compost and soil, take loads of dead leaves and debris to the yard waste bin, even serve as a carry all for transplanting. Their soft sides and double handles make them easy to carry no matter how heavy the load.

Unfortunately gloves are a must, and they must be this style from Atlas. If I could get away with it I would actually prefer not to wear gloves, but since I have such a fondness for the spiky plants (and clean nails) I wear gloves. These gloves are sized (xs-l) so you can find the pair that fits you like a second skin. I love them. I’ve always got a second pair on-hand for when the inevitable nail break-through occurs.

Again due to my spiky plant obsession I’ve got a couple of frequently used tools that are probably not seen on the average gardener’s bench… Since breaking out the vacuum to clean debris from your agaves on a regular basis is rather inconvenient a small paintbrush can successfully be used. And what about when you’ve got to cut off a dead agave arm? Nothing beats a serrated kitchen knife, yes seriously. Now of course I do have a great shovel for digging real holes but mostly I use my hand trowel and scoop. I love the serrated edge on the trowel… And the scoop is unbelievably handy! Mulch, potting soil, gravel…you name it. Weeding? Then it’s time to break out my grandpa’s old wooden screw drivers. Just slide it into the ground next to the weed, wiggle a bit and tah-dah…it pulls right out (most of the time). Speaking of Grandpa’s tools his half-moon edger is in serious lawn care rotation. It, along with my reel mower, keeps our small patch of sod in shape. When it comes to watering I love this spray nozzle with its multiple settings. Shower, Jet, Flood, Mist…I can do it all! However I must admit that I buy a replacement every couple of years, either they don’t engineer them terribly well or I am just amazingly hard on my spray nozzles. So, what’s in your gardening tool-box?

(*the name for this post was inspired by a column on the blog design*sponge where they ask designers, artists, and other taste-makers “what’s in your toolbox?”)


  1. Loving this post. I'm not a big fan of the gadgets either, and know what I go to the most. I like those garden tubs and must get one. I've been hauling around an old paint bucket and think that yours is more aesthetically pleasing but also I like the flexibility.

    I invested in a good pair of clippers this past winter and am so glad I did. Sharp, easy to use, and powerful. Three things all good tools should be!

  2. Mostly I use my felcos, and my soil knife. At about this time of year I need to break out the little pruners for deadheaded. I have a little hand soil scoop with serrated sides and a pointed end that is great for smaller planting holes.

    I love my large collapsible debris container. A couple of buckets. One for mulch, one clay (oops I mean soil!), to keep them separated when digging planting holes.

  3. This time of year, I hardly step out the door without my trusty pruners. There is always something that needs trimming or deadheading. I have basically the same things you have, not being a gadget person either but, I would include my wheelbarrow. I know this means that if I'm going to follow your analogy my gardening tool box would need to be pretty big but you get the idea. :)

  4. What size are your tubtrugs? They look wonderful!

  5. Hahaha...agreed, simple is best. Aside from my little fishing tackle box of irrigation gear (I install drip irrigation for everything) I only have a few things. Trowel (I seem to break them every year), scissors, heavier pruning thing and a wheelbarrow! I need one of those totes...manhandling the wheelbarrow around for smaller projects isn't ideal. I love your observation about the red handles...I usually lose something every year...argh!

  6. Being half Japanese...I can't be without my hari,hari knife.

  7. As you know I tend to do most of my gardening on a small scale and the tools reflect that. So my must have tool are needle nose tweezers

  8. Great post. I have trug envy! I don't use many tools at all, just an old shovel, scissors, clippers, a sturdy hand shovel and a pair of trusty old gloves. I have one watering can and I use an old plastic laundry hamper to collect rainwater.

  9. Very interesting. We have pretty much the same tools. Two differences: 1) I don't have a lawnmower because I don't have a lawn and 2) I don't use a brush for cleaning my "spiky" plants but I have surgical forceps. that get in between the tight spots.

  10. I also like simple tools in the garden.

  11. LeLo, yes you should treat yourself to a trug or two...another benefit is that they are light so you can carry more!

    Ryan, you've got the clay soil curse too huh?

    Grace, if I'm including my lawn mower you can include your wheelbarrow!

    blue 120, I believe I've got the large and the medium.

    Scott, yes you should get one! Wow...you're an irrigation man...I regret not going that route when the husband starts planning long weekend away in August...

    linda, it's silly to admit but they kind of scare me, I've thought about making the purchase but they just look like a trip to the hospital.

    Spiky O, that's right! I forgot about your tweezers tip...must look into that.

    Z Mama, funny the mental picture I got when you said laundry basket (one with holes) and then "collecting rainwater"...

    Bom, I've been thinking about making our small patch of lawn even smaller...

    Darla, no power tools!

  12. Okay, maybe I am a 'gadget guy' but the Fiskars weeders will convert almost anyone on being THE way to deal with lawn weeds- nothing could be easier! I don't sell them or work for them, they're just cool! http://www2.fiskars.com/Gardening-and-Yard-Care/Products/Weeders-and-Specialty-Tools/Weeder-3-claw


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