Garden tools you can’t live without

Garden tools make good holiday gifts for the gardener on your list. Here are some of my favorites, which I just can’t do without.

The one tool I don’t go without is not really a tool. I always wear gloves in the garden — but I also frequently lose them. So my glove clips by Glove Guard are indispensable.

One end clips to your belt loop and the other clips to your gloves. At the end of the day, I clip them on the shelf with my tools and always have them handy.

The other tool that is always with me is my soil knife. The blade is about one and a half inches wide and around 7 inches long.

One side of the blade is smooth and the other is serrated for cutting small roots. The blade is also marked in inches so I can use it to space my vegetables or to determine the depth of the planting hole.

The next four tools have to do with pruning, and I use all three during the growing season.

The first is a pair of hand pruners. Gardeners know Felco is the elite brand for pruning shear,s but there are also generic brands that work just as well. I have bought the A.M. Leonard brand from their catalog, and have been very satisfied with the quality.

Pruning shears are used for small cuts on wood that is less than a half-inch in diameter. If the wood is one half inch to an inch, I switch to my loppers. I use a long-handled lopper for better leverage.

An accessory that is a must with the pruners and loppers is a file or sharpening tool. They work much better if the blade is sharp.

Pruning is a wound to the plant, and you want to make the cleanest cut possible so that the wound seals properly.

I won’t use hedge shears on my boxwood shrubs as they don’t make clean cuts. This can leave dead tissue on the leaves that give the boxwoods a straggly appearance.

Instead I use my Okatsune long-handled hedge shears. These have a very sharp blade and make an extremely clean cut.

The last pruning tool is a good pruning saw that can remove branches between one and three inches. I prefer the type that folds neatly and fit into my garden bag.

My final tool is a good spade. I bought the one called the “Kind of Spades” and love the sharp edge that cuts through roots.

What are your favorite garden tools? Send me an email and I’ll put together a column in the future with your ideas.

I am taking two weeks off from the column and will return in January. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all, and thank you for reading my column.

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