Best garden tools
May 6, 2020 6:31 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I love to garden, and it has become our main recreation during the lockdown. We have a jumble of tools we've bought cheap or been gifted from others, but would like to upgrade to great tools that will last many years. We're happy to pay for quality.

I bought my wife a Felco secateur for her birthday this year, and she has a nice Craftsbury stainless steel transplant spade that I think will last years. The rest of our tools are cheap (like Harbor Freight), or beat up, with a few solid enough shovels from different Home Depot type brands.

What other tools do you like for your garden? We have a small lot (~0.3 acre) and are doing a lot container (indoors and out) and raised bed gardening right now, but tend to our trees and in-ground plantings. We don't have acres and acres or big plantings--just a home hobby garden.
posted by Admiral Haddock to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Japanese Razor Hoe
posted by Segundus at 6:47 AM on May 6, 2020

The Dirty Little Digger (also comes in a bigger size) - I purchased this at the Philadelphia Flower Show and it's the best.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:54 AM on May 6, 2020

One of the nice things about working at that size + doing container gardening is that you need very few tools - and, honestly, cheap/old ones will often do the job well enough.

If you aren't composting, you might want to look into getting a tumbler or, if your lot is mostly rat-free, building a bin. I've also found a roll of 1/4" wire mesh and some tin snips helpful for keeping rodents (extending to squirrels and gophers) out of planters and raised beds.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:57 AM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I lust over Niwaki brand tools.
posted by Think_Long at 7:04 AM on May 6, 2020

Silky hand saws.
posted by jon1270 at 7:17 AM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I love my CobraHead, it's perfect for weeding. Particularly great for pesky crack-dwelling weeds.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 7:18 AM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

My hori hori, as recommended somewhere on MF, is fantastic for digging and digging up.
posted by past unusual at 8:03 AM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Not a hand tool, but the garden upgrade I'd want would be a drip irrigation system, ideally set up with rain barrels.
posted by veery at 8:07 AM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Has no one come in to recommend the ho-mi yet? I use it in my garden for weeding (the shape is ideal for levering out stubborn weeds), making drills for planting seeds, and digging small holes.
posted by Lycaste at 8:08 AM on May 6, 2020

I'm not sure if this counts as a tool but using a kneeler, especially the reversible ones that flip over to become a slightly higher seat, saves my knees and back.
posted by gladly at 8:23 AM on May 6, 2020 [4 favorites]

2nding a Hori Hori knife. I gave one to my wife and it had become her constant garden companion. I can’t fine a link offhand to the one I got her, but not only is it bladed one one side, serrated on the other, there’s a nice little ruler built into it. It helps measuring in a pinch and getting planting depths right. True garden badassery.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:34 AM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

posted by aniola at 9:02 AM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

people I know really like these lee valley ones.
posted by euphoria066 at 12:03 PM on May 6, 2020

I've used (but unfortunately don't own) Wolf tools. In the min rugged and very sensible, a whole series of click-fit/exchangeable heads for hoes, rakes.. The have the same range (more or less) for both long tools and hand tools "70 different attachments with eight different handle types". A better range of their tools on this page.
posted by unearthed at 12:46 PM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

+1 hori hori

Sharpen your shovels if you haven’t been keeping up on it. A wire brush and a bucket of sand and machine oil in the shed makes it easy to clean and protect tools - brush em off and stick in the sand a few times.

Corona brand hand pruners (no plastic, spring between handles, dipped hand grips) and pruning saws are durable and mainstays of the places I do outdoor volunteering. When I replace my Felcos, that’s what I’m getting.
posted by momus_window at 1:02 PM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Wirecutter's recommendations have never steered me wrong. I got their budget pick pruning shears a couple years back and they are very solid.
posted by zoetrope at 1:19 PM on May 6, 2020

I am very fond of my leather gardening gloves. I really viscerally dislike getting my hands dirty but will happily even touch mucky compost when I’m wearing my leather gardening gloves. They are tough and protect my hands from rose thorns etc too.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:48 PM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry to post twice, but if you don't have some already, I would consider getting some Red Gorilla trugs. They are durable and flexible, and great for mixing potting soil, carrying stuff to and from the compost pile, and moving mulch, soil amendments, or dirt.
posted by Lycaste at 7:00 PM on May 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Plus a million for a hori-hori knife, ideally get one you can sharpen.
posted by lydhre at 5:42 AM on May 7, 2020

What are the things you use most in the garden? Get the best versions of those that you can. For me it's:

-Compost bin (a proper one, not an in-home bokashi mini-bin or anything like that)
-Gardening gloves
-Hori hori, as noted above (I actually have one of these but it's similar enough)
-Container for mixing soil/potting mix/vermiculite/compost etc. (e.g. Red Gorilla trugs)
-Some kind of blade, for weeding - I use an old kitchen knife. Digging tools are less good for weeding as they pull up a lot of surrounding soil.

I'd like to get a nice, sturdy potting table/bench at some point, but like you, we only have a small hobby garden. It's also important to have a relatively clean and elegant way to store all this stuff out of sight, but that might not be a concern for y'all.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:42 PM on May 7, 2020

Oh, I do like the look of that shovel, PhoBWanKenobi! Shame they don't seem to be available in Australia. But yes a decent shovel is also important - or even something like a disposal store military trenching tool will do the trick!
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:45 PM on May 7, 2020

And keep a plant diary! So you know what you've got, and when you did what to it, and when it's due for the next thing to be done to it! I don't actually do this, but my partner started one recently for all her indoor plants, and it strikes me as a very good idea.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:50 PM on May 7, 2020

« Older Intimidated by guy I'm dating   |   Best iPhone App for Background Editing Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.