Good tools make the work easy

Children's spade ©Janet AllenThis children's spade from Smith & Hawkens is Janet's favorite tool

Good tools are important. Some are essential, and some are just nice to have. Some, though, even if they seemed essential or even just fun, turned out to not be so useful, and these often were the most expensive purchases we made.

Different people, with different gardening conditions and different bodies might categorize these tools differently.

The essentials

Kneeling pad ©Janet AllenKneeling pad

A kneeling pad, especially for aging knees, is an important piece of equipment.

Spade ©Janet Allen A good spade

A good spade is one of the few really essential tools. And for his own comfort and health, John found that a spade with a longer handle helped a lot.

Janet is happy with the child-size spade from Smith and Hawken (see photo above), which we bought for our daughter when she was 3 years old. For some reason, she never appreciated it as much as we had expected!

Pruners ©Janet Allen

There's nothing like having good pruners that really work. We have bought a number of pruners over the years because there's two of us and just for the convenience. But when I realized that I was always looking for my red-handled ones—in two different sizes—I checked to see what they were. Both turned out to be Felcos! I decided to get an additional pair, but then I checked the price—they're pretty pricey. That actually just means they cost more than the other ones on the shelf, but if we calculated the benefits from having these quality tools over the 30 years we've used them, they've been a bargain. The cheap ones don't last as long, don't work as well, and aren't as comfortable to use.

Why the tagging tape? It's easy to put them down somewhere and have a hard time finding them again. I want to make them as noticeable as possible.

Wheel barrow ©Janet AllenWheelbarrow

A good wheelbarrow is another essential tool.

Try it out before buying. We have another wheelbarrow that forces us into a contorted position and hits our knees when we push it.

These buckets come in really handy, too. We keep all the ones we've gotten (driveway sealer buckets etc.) as well as buying a few. We use them all the time.

Nice to have

Gloves ©Janet AllenGood gardening gloves

Gardening gloves may not be essential, but they can make gardening must more comfortable and protect your hands.

Even this old milk crate storage container can be a useful "tool"—in this case, being used to sift compost.

Soil staple ©Janet Allen
Soil staples

How to you fasten things together? Staples, of course! The same principle applies to fastening things to soil. Soil staples really come in handy, and they work.


Chipper ©Janet AllenChipper shredder

We finally realized that this chipper-shredder (along with an expensive Troy-bilt rototiller years ago) were unnecessary. The leaves compost themselves, and our permanent raised beds with its beautiful soil are easy enough to dig with a simple spade.