Essential Gardening Tools

We ll have them-favorite tools we like to use. I have may not have been gardening as long as some, but in 27 years of gardening, and 15 years of landscaping with 5 companies I have learned about the best tools for the trade. They are Stihl products, a good soil knife, a good scuffle or push hoe, Felco pruners, and a good, heavy-duty trash can.


While there are many good brands out there to choose from I have had experience with several different power tools, and Stihl wins hands down every time. They have a very large line of power tools from chainsaws to backpack blowers, to string trimmers. There are varying power levels for different users, from professional grade machines to those designed for infrequent homeowner use and some in-between. We use them exclusively at Grimm’s and I do at home too. They are easy to find parts for, with a Stihl dealer in nearly every town. They make other good products as well, such as heavy duty loppers and hand saws.


A good soil knife is a gardeners best friend. I use the A.M. Leonard’s Deluxe soil knife both at home and on the job. It is useful for digging, transplanting quart sized plants or smaller, cutting back grasses and perennials in fall and spring, and weeding. I use it most for digging out dandelions and perennial weeds, and love how well it cuts back grasses and liriope in the spring. The bad part about it is the sharpening, it can be tough. I have to use a rounded file to sharpen the serrated blade. However, it needed sharpening only once every 4 months for a garden warrior like me, who is always using it.


The author's well-used soil knife
The author’s well-used soil knife

Even though many of our customers have rocked or mulched landscape beds, I still use a push or scuffle hoe to get weeds down. There are a few customers who do not mind the small weeds cut down and left, knowing they will be breaking down and returning organic matter to the soil. A small 3 inch or smaller scuffle hoe is great for getting small weeds growing near the base of plants.


Scuffle hoes are great for getting into tight areas
Scuffle hoes are great for getting into tight areas

I often meet dealers at trade shows who try to sell me their pruners. I have been using Felco for only 6 years now, but I would never trade away to another brand. I used Corona brand pruners and loppers before and was never completely satisfied with their durability. In the 9 years before I got Felco pruners, I went through 5 pairs of pruners. And I had to sharpen them 3 times more often than the Felco blades. On my Felco I have had to replace small parts only twice and the blade only once in 6 years. I used them daily, sometimes for as long as 4 hours of the day for shrub or rose pruning, and only need to sharpen the blade once a week.


The author's well worn Felco 11 pruners
The author’s well worn Felco 11 pruners

The final part of my working tool gear is a 32 gallon, heavy-duty, plastic trash can. My crews and I used them to haul away debris, weeds, trimmings, and leaves. You can set them on the side and rake leaves right into them, and haul away much faster than a tarp. Dragging a tarp leaves debris trailing out the sides and a mess to pick up later, but a can holds it all upright and rarely spills out.


Hopefully you can find our favorite tools for the job. Keep on gardening!

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