This is the second post of a series on gardening tools. While you can do quite well with just the 10 Most Useful Gardening Tools there will be situations where you will require other special tools, including one mystery tool that will be revealed at the end of the post.
Please note that this post contains affiliate links to Amazon.ca – I make a small commission if you purchase tools using these links so thanks in advance if you decide to do so. While some of these tools are not exactly what I own they are comparable in function. But see my note at the end of the post if you can’t afford to buy new tools.
So what special tools might you need based on the work you need to do?
Note that the numbers in front of the tool name correspond to the number in the lead set of photos above.
1. Lawnmower: Yes, this is an old-style manual reel version. I have a small lawn in my front yard and find this is all I need. It does have some issues getting through thick, tall grass but we try and keep the lawn trimmed regularly in the spring when it is actively growing. While there are more expensive and fancier ones, you can find basic ones.
2. Grass trimmer: Notice a trend? I prefer this manual version of the powered, noisy trimmers most people use on a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. Reduced noise, no gas smell, low maintenance, good for the environment and healthy exercise are the main benefits of using this old technology. Hard to find the horizontal version that I have for a decent price; alternative is the vertical blade version which will work as well.
3. Aerator: Again a manual tool that puts lots of holes in your lawn. Powered aerators are great but I always worry that they will damage my sprinkler heads. This hand aerator will give you a bit of a workout – best to do after a rain as the soil will be easier to poke into.
4. Long-handled pruner with saw: Much safer to stand on the ground to trim your trees. Although I do also have an orchard ladder (three legs) that I use to get even more height as I have some tall fruit trees. Best to get one with a saw that you can attach and detach for those larger branches.
5. Lopper: This takes over where your pruners stop being able to handle thicker branches. This pair is extendable. Also goes by the nickname Cindi Lauper (I grew up in the 80’s!).
6. Bowsaw: This takes over where your lopper stops being able to handle branches. If this bowsaw can’t handle it then you’ll likely need a chainsaw so you may want to hire an arbourist to trim your trees.
7. Fruit picker: Incredibly handy at harvest time as it allows you to pick fruit without damaging it and again having to climb ladders except for the tallest trees. Of course also have some buckets on hand to empty the picker into as it can get very heavy quickly and then is tiring on the arms. If you buy this you’ll also need a pole.
8. Leaf rake: Once again a “manual” tool instead of the common gas-powered or electric-powered leaf blower. Much more peaceful and tranquil to rake up leaves without the noise of a leaf blower and the dust they create. The leaves you rake up can be composted for a very useful mulch. This one is a bit better than the one I have as it is adjustable.
9. Hand truck/dolly: Use it to move pots and other heavy objects that are hard to lift into the wheelbarrow. Some versions like mine can be changed to a four wheel dolly or a standup two wheel dolly.
10. Wheelbarrow: Great for moving around large quantities of soil, compost, mulch or leaves and other debris. There are also various garden carts with two wheels that can be easier to handle. Best of shopping at your local hardware store, garden centre or home centre for this because of the size and ideally you want to try it out if you can before buying it.
11. Long-handled and short-handled cultivator: While my hoe does have two prongs on the other side of the handle opposite the hoe end, I still prefer using the long handled cultivator as it does a better job of loosening soil. The short-handled one is great for containers and working in tight quarters where you have many plants in a small area
12. Scissors: Regular scissors/snips and the special ones I have that are for picking flowers (it holds the flower in it’s jaws, useful for reaching into a border or cutting thorny flowers such as roses) might come in handy. You could try using your pruners but usually it doesn’t work that well for string and opening bags of soil, etc.
13. Garden knife: Useful for opening bags, cutting string, dividing perennial root balls, harvesting broccoli and other such vegetables. My knife was just a blade and I attached some leftover cherry wood and then sanded it to match the knife shaft. Or use a retractable utility knife. Nothing in particular to recommend.
14. Broom and brush with dustpan: To keep your garden tidy, especially any hard-surface paths, patios or decks you’ll need a long-handled broom and a small brush with dustpan. Not only does it look better but it is safer – once leaves get wet they can be quite slippery. And any weed seeds left on a paver patio will find their way into the cracks and sprout.
15. Sprinkler: I haven’t used this in ages so it is just sitting in my greenhouse collecting dust. I have a full sprinkler system in my front and back yards so rarely need to setup a sprinkler to supplement watering. But handy to have in case my sprinkler system has issues with one of the zones or I find a section is not being watered well. Obviously you will also need a garden hose as mentioned in the 10 Most Useful Gardening Tools post. I’m not recommending a specific one here as the type of sprinkler is a personal preference based on what you need to water – but here is the page of sprinklers to get you started.
Bonus Tool: You might have noticed that there is one more tool that is covered and is labelled with ?? This is an unconventional tool that you might think doesn’t have a good use in the garden. So what is it?
As you can see in the image above it is a water kettle. What the heck do you need a kettle for in the garden? Making a nice cup of tea 🍵 perhaps? That would be nice on a cold day but that’s not what I use it for.
Weeds don’t like boiling hot water poured on them, especially those really tough weeds you might find between the cracks of a patio or in a stone path. Boil the water and pour it over and you’ll see the weeds shrivel in a matter of minutes. Wear shoes and be careful carrying the kettle and pouring it of course – don’t pour it close to anything you actually want to keep. If the hot water alone doesn’t do it, you can add some vinegar once the water boils – that will help to kill even the most persistent weeds. You should be able to then pull them out.
Another use for the kettle is to heat up water to mix with cold water so that when you water seedlings or other sensitive plants especially in early spring, the plants will not get shocked by ice cold tap water. Lukewarm water only of course otherwise you will kill the plants just like above with the weeds.
A water kettle – a bizarre tool perhaps, but very handy to have on hand. As you can probably see my kettle is an old one that we retired from the kitchen.
As I mentioned in my post on 10 Most Useful Gardening Tools, if you can’t afford new tools you might want to first check out garage sales, estate sales, your local online classifieds and friends that might be upgrading their tools or have duplicates before you run out to the garden centre or home centre or order stuff online. Just ensure the tools are in good working condition – tools that are excessively rusty usually indicate that the owner wasn’t careful with them.
And remember that you might not have to buy these now until you are sure you need them and need them often enough. For one-off use you may want to borrow these special tools from a fellow gardener or rent them.
Do you have any other specialized tools not in the list above that you use for specific tasks? Please share by leaving a comment below.
The next post in the series is How to Maintain your Tools