Jules Kendall shares the sweet and savory at her blog, Pancakes and French Fries. She almost never writes about food. Instead, she focuses on her improving her health, decluttering and simplifying her home, and life with two loud boys and one quiet husband. She is the creator of The William Morris Project, a weekly series that encourages people to have nothing in their home they do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
We are one month into spring, and it's time to go outside and start gardening! Since the right tools make the job infinitely easier, a roundup of great garden tools to have seemed in order. But here's the thing: there is a lot of stuff out there I don't need but want. To stop myself from buying what I won't use, I ask myself three questions before I plunk down cash.
Is this the best quality tool I can afford?
Does this tool have more than one purpose?
Will this tool change my life (in the garden)?
Have I always asked myself these questions? No, unfortunately. But now I do, so I know the following tools are made to last, efficient, and useful.
Photo: Jules Kendall
Buy the best pruners you can afford and with proper care, they'll last forever. Buy a brand like Felco that allows you to take apart the pruner for proper cleaning. They even offer replacement blades in case yours become dull beyond repair.
2. Hori Hori Knife
Only the best garden tool ever! There is nothing a hori hori knife can't do. It's one of those satisfying tools with multiple uses. It sculpts, cuts, and weeds. The hori hori blade in this post has ruler marks, so you can also use it to dig and plant blubs.
If you live in an area with stone and clay-rich soil or decomposed granite (that's me!) you need a mattock. There are a number of different style mattocks available, but the most useful one has a narrow blade on one end of the head and a pick on the other. Both sides will loosen up the soil enough so you can start using your shovel.
4. Dandelion Weeder
If you have ever weeded a garden full of dandelions or other plants with deep tap roots, you, well, you probably used an old screwdriver at some point. Guilty! Buy a dandelion weeder and then wonder why you didn't do it sooner. They're longer than screwdrivers, so they can go deeper. Plus, they're, like, made for digging up weeds and aren't that expensive.
5. Ergonomic Shovel
What's great about the Radius ergonomic shovel is that the blade is sharp and heavy while the handle is lightweight fiberglass. No splinters! My favorite part is the circled top of the handle, which allows you to arrange your shoveling hand in various positions. This eases hand strain and reduces hand cramping. This lets you shovel longer which, in retrospect, maybe isn't all that great a selling feature.
6. Mill File
If you are going to spend money on expensive garden tools that will last forever, you're going to need to take care of them. Buy a mill file, or sharpening tool, for your shovels, hoes, pruners, etc. There are as many files as there are types of grass, but the GardenSharp is easy to use and very popular.
I would have never thought to put up a coat hook outside, so I can't take credit for this idea. I read it in a book of tips for gardeners. The idea is to hang hooks for your hat, sweater, glasses, etc. so that you know where to look for them at the end of the day. This way, you don't leave precious items outside over night at the mercy of the elements.
8. Rain Wand
The rain wand is a tool I didn't think I needed. I had a hose; I had a standard nozzle. I didn't think anything else until I tried to water fragile flowers like petunias and pansies. If you get a long enough wand, you can use it to water hard to reach corners and hanging plants.