by Michelle Provaznik, Executive Director, Gardens on Spring Creek
Most gardeners have a favorite tool that they just cannot live without, and I am no exception. However, after more than a decade of being a professional gardener, I now have several. My preferred tools are multi-purpose, increase efficiency while decreasing physical exertion, and require minimal maintenance.
Besides a great pair of pruners and very sharp scissors, one of my favorite hand tools is the hori-hori (Japanese for dig-dig) or soil knife. This knife has a stainless-steel, six-inch blade that is serrated along one edge. It is excellent for weeding. Its size and serrated edge make it useful for planting annuals and perennials – it can be used to dig the hole and you can use the edge to cut the root ball before planting
Another terrific hand tool is the sheep shear. This tool cuts larger amounts of material than the typical hand pruner which makes it excellent for deadheading perennials after their initial bloom. I use it on lavender, thyme, pussytoes, etc. The sheep shear saves wear and tear on your hands and makes the job go much quicker. But be careful…this tool is sharp!
Have you ever cut back your Centranthus only to find thousands of baby plants sprouted underneath? A hand weeder / cultivator is the answer to this problem. My favorite type acts as a scraper which chops the seedlings off at the ground level, effectively killing them. This tool is also great for cultivating the top couple of inches of soil in preparation for planting seeds.
Five-gallon buckets are often used in the garden. I have generally found them too small and narrow for most applications. Many years ago, I found tub trugs, which are rubberized, tapered buckets with handles that come in a variety of colors and sizes. After years of use, I prefer the black recycled versions as they are very heavy-duty. I use them for almost everything such as doing spring cleanups, deadheading, and weeding. I put soil in them when planting and then stir in compost for backfilling the hole. They also hold water which is great when a watering can is not available and I don’t want to drag a hose across the yard. To date, they have been indestructible.
There are a couple of power tools that I have decided are a must-have. The first is a blower which makes cleanups much quicker. The second tool is a power hedge trimmer – either gas or electric. I rarely use the hedge trimmer for shrubs, but it makes cutting down ornamental grasses a breeze. It’s also great for cutting back matting plants such as yarrow. Your hands and shoulders will appreciate your purchase of this versatile tool.
Visit y our local nurseries and hardware centers to work smarter, not harder, this growing season.