Category Archives: Tools

Denver Master Gardeners Share Their Favorite Gardening Tools

What’s your best loved, most used, can’t be without garden tool?  Or, if you are new to gardening, what tools will help you the most? According to a recent survey of Denver Master Gardeners, implements that multi-task and are non-mechanical are among the most prized.

horiThe hori hori or Japanese garden knife is favored by more than half of our respondents. One  master gardener describes it as “the Swiss Army knife of garden tools as it is especially helpful in working in tight spaces and bad soils where larger tools can’t get a grip. It weeds, digs, divides, cuts, scales and pries.”

Hori means “to dig” in Japanese and reportedly the tool was designed hundreds of years ago to excavate plants from the mountainsides of Japan. It is nearly indestructible with a sturdy 6-8 inch pointed blade which has a serrated edge on one side, straight on the other. Its simplicity is in keeping with Japanese design principals and some might say it has a bit of a Samurai appearance. Perfect for attacking Colorado’s tough clay soil!

Shovels, troughs, hand spades, pitchforks, hedge shears, hand pruners and narrow rakes with flexible tines all received high praise in our survey, too. Ergonomics are important and many said that the ideal tool is the one that fits you best. A petite gardener reports her favorite small rake is actually a child’s tool, which she didn’t realize for years. It has just the right reach for her and easily fits between plants to clean up leaves and spread mulch.

Pat McClearn found an old-fashioned, rubber handled dandelion digger at the house she purchased in 1963. She’s been weeding and transplanting with it ever since. I’m in awe of Pat’s 50-year-old weeder! Like many others, I find brightly handled tools help me save time not looking for that darn stray trowel.

Breaking up ground with a broadfork

Deb Neeley recommends a broadfork. “It loosens the soil down to 14″, is fun to use and provides a good workout too!  Much kinder alternative for your soil than rototilling.”

The Denver Compost Program  received rave reviews for its ease of use. “The green compost bin – a reason to live!” proclaims Nancy Downs. Anne Beletic is equally enthusiastic about her reciprocal saw for pruning and her cordless electric mower, which makes easy work of mowing her small, hilly lawn. Better for the environment, too!

Several respondents suggested repurposing items from inside the house such as long kitchen scissors, screwdrivers or a chef knife to pull weeds, divide perennials and deadhead. Fancy? No. Effective? Definitely. A retired pillow also makes a great kneeling pad and an apron that covers the knees will keep you tidy. Extra kudos if it has pockets.

Garden clogs got a mention for being comfortable, waterproof and good for trekking through the garden in any weather. Jodi Torpey is a fan of Atlas nitrile touch garden gloves, which are “tough and act like a second skin to protect my hands. They’re the only garden gloves I’ve found that I can use for a full day of work in the garden and hold up for more than one season too.”

So there you have it, some great suggestions for making gardening more enjoyable. Any gardening helpers we’ve missed?

Written by Linda McDonnell with thanks to the  many Denver Master Gardeners who shared their expertise for this post. There were lots of suggestions and every effort was made to mention all of them!