Top 5 Tools Every Gardener Needs

Five essentials for the day in and day out gardening.



Courtesy of Houzz.com

For eight years, Ella Ancheta has managed the more than 2½ acres of gardens and grounds of the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden in Palo Alto, California, a home, garden and horticultural nonprofit. As prime fall planting and trimming season begins, we asked her what tools she turns to most to keep the landscape around the historic Gamble home in good shape for visitors, gardening workshops, weddings and more. Here are her picks and how to use them.

These are the tools that most gardeners will need for their day in, day out garden activities, Ancheta says. For that reason, it’s important to choose the right tools for you. Weight and size are key factors. Since many of these tools are used for repetitive tasks, the lighter the tool is and the easier it is to hold, the better. “I tend to look for how it feels in my hand and how I’m able to grip it,” Ancheta says.

1. Bypass pruner. Every gardener needs a hand pruner for trimming roses and other small branches and twigs. Ancheta prefers a bypass model, in which the blades cross each other for a clean cut. 

Sheila Schmitz, original photo on Houzz

2. Handsaw. A lightweight handsaw allows Ancheta to get into small areas of a tree or shrub to trim branches too big for a pruner. Hers has an interchangeable blade so she doesn’t need to buy a whole new saw when the cutting edge dulls. 

Sheila Schmitz, original photo on Houzz

3. Hori hori knife. You can use this tool as a digger, trowel and weeder. Its serrated edges cuts through roots, and its sharp point helps you dig into harder soils. Measurements along the blade show you how deep you’re digging — good for planting fall bulbs. 

Sheila Schmitz, original photo on Houzz

4. Small hand rake. Just about every gardener has a large rake, but Ancheta often finds a smaller one more effective, using it as an extension of her hand. Its small size and flexible tines help her clean up around plants and other tight spaces. 

Sheila Schmitz, original photo on Houzz

5. Spade. A light spade with a serrated edge cuts through dirt and roots to help you dig larger planting holes. Gardening Tools 6: Sheila Schmitz, original photo on Houzz In addition to choosing the right tools for you, it’s important to take care of them. “It’s like anything else. After you use it, you clean it,” Ancheta says. This way, tools are always ready for use and need to be replaced less often. Gamble staffers clean their tools with Scrubbing Bubbles. “It takes off the sap,” Ancheta says. Then they add a few drops of multipurpose oil, such as WD-40, to any joints or connections and sharpen tools as needed.

Sheila Schmitz, original photo on Houzz

In addition to choosing the right tools for you, it’s important to take care of them. “It’s like anything else. After you use it, you clean it,” Ancheta says. This way, tools are always ready for use and need to be replaced less often.

Gamble staffers clean their tools with Scrubbing Bubbles. “It takes off the sap,” Ancheta says. Then they add a few drops of multipurpose oil, such as WD-40, to any joints or connections and sharpen tools as needed.

This article originally published on Houzz.
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