Tools are a key to having a successful garden. These 15 special gardening tools can help you if you have specialized tasks that you need to do.
While you can do quite well with just the 10 Must Have Gardening Tools That You Need To Start Gardening there will be situations where you will require other special tools, including one bonus tool that will be revealed at the end of the post.
So what specialized tools should you consider adding to your toolshed when it comes time to expand your tool collection?
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If you have a lawn still, there is some maintenance involved in keep the lawn trimmed and looking tidy. You have the option of going manual, electric (corded or battery) and gas-powered. If you care about the future of our world, my advice is to consider going manual or electric.
Gas-powered garden equipment creates air and noise pollution and requires more maintenance (filling with gas, winterizing, cleaning sparkplugs, etc.)
I have a small lawn in my front yard and find that all I need is a manual reel mower. 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.
If you have a bigger lawn, you may need an electric mower or one of the new robot mowers. Either one will be more expensive and require more maintenance.
2. Grass trimmer
Once you have a tidy lawn, you also need to trim the edges of stray grass spears. Again the manual version is adequate for a small backyard with an upgrade to an electric version being an option if you have a larger yard.
There are two versions: one with a horizontal blade that glides over the grass and trims anything above it and one with a vertical blade that trims anything sticking out sideways. I find the horizontal blade one to be the most useful if you can only afford one.
This manual tool puts lots of holes in your lawn to help deal with compacted soil. Powered aerators are great but I always worry that they will damage my sprinkler heads.
It will give you a bit of a workout – best to do after a rain as the soil will be easier to poke into.
If you have trees, you will need some tools to keep them pruned. And if you have fruit trees you’ll also need to be able to pick fruit and there is a tool for that.
4. Long-handled pruner with saw
It is 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.
This takes over where your pruners stop being able to handle thicker branches. A pair that is extendable is handy. Also goes by the nickname Cindi Lauper (I grew up in the 80’s!).
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
This tool is incredibly handy at harvest time as it allows you to pick fruit without damaging it and having to climb ladders except for the tallest trees.
Of course you should 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.
Just add a cheap wooden pole to insert and screw the picker to.
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, especially if you are sensitive to dust or have allergies.
The leaves you rake up can be composted for a very useful mulch.
Often you will need to move soil, amendments like compost, pots and other supplies around your property. Make the job easier and safer by using that age-old invention called the wheel.
9. Hand truck/dolly
Use it to move pots and other heavy objects that are hard to lift into a wheelbarrow or garden cart. I often use mine for moving bags of soil, fertilizer or mulch if I buy it in bags.
Ideally get the version that can be changed to a four wheel dolly or a standup two wheel dolly to give you even more versatility.
10. Wheelbarrow/Garden Cart
It is 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.
It is best to shop 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. Some are easier to maneuver around than others.
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 a long handled cultivator as it does a better job of loosening soil.
A short-handled one is great for containers and working in tight quarters where you have many plants in a small area.
Having a pair of dedicated garden scissors or snips comes in handy more times that you might think.
You shouldn’t use your good pruners for opening cutting string and opening bags of soil, etc., mainly because it doesn’t work well. And you definitely shouldn’t cut wire with your pruners (although there are some more expensive pruners now that have a wire cutting slot in the blade). So for these tasks have your scissors or snips always at hand.
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. Or “borrow” a knife from the kitchen.
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. 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 so it helps save on maintenance work later.
Once you have stuff swept up into a pile, a simple dustpan and hand brush will do the final pickup.
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 it is 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 good quality garden hose, which is one of the 10 Must Have Gardening Tools.
I’m not recommending a specific one here as the type of sprinkler is based on what you need to water and there are so many different kinds.
I know we already have 15 tools listed. But 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. So go buy yourself a fancy new one for the kitchen and relegate your old one to garden duty.
As I mentioned in my post on 10 Must Have 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.
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Tranquil Garden Urban Homestead, Victoria, BC