After a long winter of making promises to yourself (quietly in your head) that this will be THE YEAR that you will keep your garden in good shape – all season long – you may still be heading uphill. Have you given any thought to choosing your tools?
Maintaining those garden beds and flower pots are going to take more than just a determined mind and willing hands. You’re going to need some top notch tools in order to keep your flowers blooming, shrubs in shape, and your body from aching all the way into next winter.
We could easily list many tools that we use professionally, but let us recommend a few must-haves:
1. Pruners – Find a sturdy pair of bypass pruners with a comfortable handle. Bypass pruners produce a nice clean cut because their blades “pass by” each other, like scissors. The tissues are cut crisply without ripping or crushing. The older style of pruner, the anvil type, smashes the stem to divide it, and then the plant uses extra energy to heal the injury. Most garden centers now carry ARS, Corona, or Felco equipment; these will stand the test of time and get the job done as long as you keep them properly maintained. Sharpen and oil your pruners regularly to keep them from premature failure and to reduce physical stress on your hands. Use of rubbing alcohol on the cutting surface will help remove any gunk buildup and get rid of any diseases that can be transferred from one plant to another.
2. Adjustable Leaf Rake – Used for gathering leaves and spreading mulch around the garden beds. Larger leaf rakes have their purpose in the fall, but cannot easily get in between plants. Adjustable rakes are lightweight and can tailor in width for those hard to get into spaces.
3. Shovel – We all know this primitive agriculture tool, the workhorse of non-motorized landscaping tools. While a big heavy steel shovel has its purpose (get one with a step at the top of the blade), we are reaching for these two smaller and more refined shovels. The WWM Sampson T-Spade is excellent for planting perennials or bulbs, weeding or transplanting. It has a shorter handle so you can use while on your knees and you can get excellent leverage. And the Spear Head Spade has the teeth and pointed tip needed to get into any soil with ease.
WWM Sampson Spade, Ball or T-handle, www.oesco.com
Spear Head Spade with Fiberglass D-grip Handle, www.amleo.com
Start the year out right – buy yourself a new tool. You deserve it after this long winter. And remember, if you need help with pruning services, Christie Dustman and Company is always available to help out with a thorough Spring clean-up and ongoing maintenance, as well as offering gardening classes to help you improve your skills and make the most of your tools.