Make garden tasks easier with a few must-have tools from our 2016 issue of <i>Green Side Up.</i> Here's what we swear by, with a few storage tips as a bonus.
Whatever your thoughts on digging in the dirt, there are times—pulling out thorny weeds, getting your fingers around deep roots—when your hands will thank you for wearing protective gloves. Washable synthetic gloves are great for all-purpose jobs; latex will protect your hands when the garden is wet.
Hand Pruner, Shears, or Scissors
Nothing beats these for cleaning up in the spring and fall, as well as removing dead branches and cutting flowers anytime of year.
It's easier to tote and aim water at balcony containers using a good-size watering can. Plastic options come in tons of sizes and colors (and they're lightweight).
No matter how much you mulch or how well you tend, you'll have weeds—it happens. They even pop up in containers. This handy tool helps you yank out unwanted plants, roots and all. Plus, you can use it to dig holes for new plants. There are lots of different blades—flat, pointed, serrated, and triangular—and handle types.
Here's a Tip: Check out the handle. Go for the hardest woods. Maple and white oak, for example, are tougher than fir and pine. You don't need pro-grade tools, either; they're heavy and spendy. Instead, look for words like carbon steel, stainless steel, or tempered.
Sprinker and Hose
Your drought-smart plants will probably still need water from time to time. Try an automatic timer to conserve water (set it for early morning or late at night), and choose a sprinkler with several spray settings.
Save your knees with inexpensive foam pads.
Here's a Tip: Looking for more ways to be ergonomically conscious? Easy-grip hand tools can save strain on your hands and back.
Sure, it's a no-brainer for fall cleanup. But you'll use it in the spring, too, for removing old plant material and other debris from garden beds. Choose aluminum; it's lighter than steel. If you think a second one would come in handy, opt for a garden rake with short tines, and use it to smooth soil before you plant.
Shovel or Spade
If you can only pick one, go for an angled-blade shovel so you can dig and move dirt with ease. Spades have a squared-off blades perfect for slicing and edging.
Here's a Tip: Hoes, shovels, and hand tools get dull with use. You'll have an easier time if you sharpen them once a year.
Stumped about how to stash all those small hand garden tools? Try these easy ideas:
1. Pegboard Install a small square to hang handheld tools.
2. Office organizers Use file organizers, binder clips, and hooks in your mudroom.
3. Kitchen cart Repurpose a cart using hooks and a no-stain countertop.
4. Back of a door Buy a premade organizer to store smaller items.
5. Vintage shelf Store seeds, hand tools, and other items.
6. Small pails Nail empty cans to a narrow stretch of wall.