Top 10 Most Useful Gardening Tools

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a list of my least most useful gardening tools and gadgets, gleaned from my gardening purchases over the years.

But never fear! It has not all been tales of wasted cash and broken dreams. There have been some purchases that not only did what they promised on the packet, but exceeded my expectations. Here’s my top 10:

10. The trowel. Cost: about $15. This trowel is already going on about four years, and has yet to show a speck of rust or any signs of weakness in the handle. This, after my last trowel bought the biscuit when the handle snapped off where it joined the metal head. We still use it to shovel bits of potting mix and gravel, but it really is a sad looking thing. Meanwhile, the $15 trowel keeps on putting the hard yards every weekend.

9. A single plastic chopstick. Price unknown. You can purchase fancy seed dibbers and other tools to prick out seedlings, but honestly nothing beats a chopstick for this job. My handy chopstick has been used for years and is still a lovely shiny red. And if I ran it through the dishwasher I am sure I could still eat my sushi with it.

I, er, won’t though.

8. The spade. Cost: about $15 many years ago. Our spade looks a sorry sight. The plastic handle fell off many years ago, so it does look quite dodge. I have considered replacing it with a fancy schmancy new spade, but the fact is that this spade is a workhorse that is still nice and comfortable to use. The wooden shaft shows no sign of breaking, and the head is still strong. It’s also not too heavy, which is important for me – I’m not a big person and I have problems with my wrists and hands. Heavy tools are difficult for me to manage. I’ll keep this one, minus the handle, for as long as I can.

7. Shovel. Cost: $20. When once receives a gift card for the Big Green Shed, you can buy plants, or you can make an investment in a tool. We did not have a shovel, most necessary of tools for the shoveling of compost. A spade just doesn’t do the job – it’s too shallow. A shovel allows for the collection of a nice full load. Anyway, I looked at what was available, and I think this one was the best deal for the price.

6. Hedge Trimmers. Can’t recall the price because we have owned them as long as I can remember. This shows what a good set of tools they are. I do not recall ever sharpening them or paying them much attention either way – we just use them and toss them back in the shed. Bit rude, really. But they just keep on going, used for trimming vines, lavender plants, herbs, and whatever else around here needs a good chop. I used them last weekend in fact. And then I tossed them back in the shed.

5. Rosette sprinkler. Cost: $3. These were once considered akin to a tool of Satan, but nowadays you can get lo-flo versions that do not waste water like the old versions. Also in a garden like mine, I like to be able to direct water to certain sections for a single deep soaking once a week in the Summer, instead of small amounts of water daily. We have found this to be an efficient way of irrigating a very large garden in the absence of an irrigation system (on the very long to-do list).

4. Secateurs. Cost: $39.99 about 15 years ago. Why do I remember the price so vividly? Because at that time I was pretty darn broke, and $39.99 was a lot of money for a tool. But – 100% worth it. I use that same set of secateurs every single weekend. My husband sharpens them now and then, and I give them a little clean with metho between jobs (when I remember – honestly, I’m not meticulous with it). That’s as much care as they get. For an amortized cost of $2.66 AUD so far, I think I got my money’s worth.

3. Wheelbarrow. Cost: $109. We only recently upgraded our wheelbarrow. The house we live in now came with a wheelbarrow (how convenient!), but the poor old gal has been getting progressively decrepit over the years until finally she was only good for holding our firewood. In advance of the retaining wall project, we made an investment in a new wheelbarrow.

Jeezum crow, those things are expensive! $109 was the cheapest we could find for a steel wheelbarrow. When I die, just load me up on that thing to send me to Valhalla. It’s almost the most expensive vehicle I own.

2. Garden Fork. Cost: $54. Yep, I forked out $54 for a garden fork, and I don’t regret it. It’s a smallish sized fork with a lovely comfortable wooden handle, purchased from the Digger’s Club for my birthday two years ago. It’s almost my most used garden tool, and with its small size and light weight, it is perfect for my use. When you load me on my wheelbarrow to Valhalla, the garden fork will be by my side for my trip to the after life.

And the number one most useful garden tool I currently own: Ho-Mi. Cost: $21. The Ho-Mi is a Asian garden cultivator with a wooden handle and a pointed head that is deadly sharp. Much of our weekend garden conversation relates to the Ho-Mi: “Where did you put the Ho-Mi!” “Watch out for the Ho-Mi!” “Hell, why’d you leave it right there!” etc – you catch my drift. The sharp tip is perfect for hand weeding, cutting furrows for planting, digging a quick hole to plant a seedling, or for getting into paving cracks to remove annoying moss or little weeds. We love the Ho-Mi. We bought ours from the Diggers Club, but you can probably buy them elsewhere. I’ll always have one in my shed, for gardening and self-defence.

Honourable mentions:

  • Kneel-os (cost to me, free. Actual cost, about $30). These strap on doo-hickeys tie onto your knees and make kneeling in the garden to weed and plant much more comfortable and less messy. I got these free for renewing my membership to the Digger’s Club this year. Would I buy a pair? Now that I know how comfy and useful they are, yes. But I’m pretty chuffed I didn’t have to.
  • Sloggers garden clogs. I long coveted a pair of these admittedly expensive gardening shoes ($54!). Finally I broke down and bought a pair, and I have to say, I do love them and wear them all the time. A slight issue with them is that they can flick general garden crud into your feet. However, generally they are comfortable and easy to kick on and off when heading in and out of your house to make the necessary cups of tea while gardening.
  • Cultivator and hoe (about $10 each). These are VITs (Very Important Tools) for weeding horrid oxalis and other annoying little weeds. However, they have been somewhat superseded by the Ho-Mi.

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