By Andrew Bunting
PHS Vice President, Public Horticulture
My Favorite Hand Tools
I have a few favorite gardening hand tools that I count on in my collection to help me get my work done around my property and gardens. Over the years, these have risen to the top as the proverbial cream of the crop.
The tool that I use more than any other tool is my Felco #2 pruners. This line of Swiss-made pruners are the horticulture industry standard. I don’t think there is a day in the garden when I don’t have my “Felcos” nearby. I have a few pairs and even have a pair that dates back to 1990 when I worked in England and New Zealand! The blade and operational spring have been replaced, but other than that they are seemingly indestructible. A companion tool is a little pruning saw also made by Felco. While it is small in size, it has the capacity to do most of my pruning jobs around the garden. Beware! Both are very sharp…I have permanent scars from each to prove it!
For digging, a good trowel is essential. I am indifferent to ones that might have a metal or wooden handle. What I do require for a trowel is a very strong shaft and an equally strong blade. You will need both to do a considerable amount of digging and planting in the garden. If you buy an inferior trowel, you will find that — in a fairly short amount of time — you will have to buy a new one because either the shaft will bend, or the point where the shaft connects to the blade will break — neither of which will be useful to you as you go to garden.
Another excellent digging tool is called the Japanese digging knife, also called a Hori Hori. It looks like a wide blade knife with a trowel point to it. One of the edges has a slight serration, making it great for aiding in the division of perennials. I love the Hori Hori for digging — when I need to get a plant into a tight spot it can help with that, but its best use is for extricating those weeds that have a tenacious root system and/or a long taproot.
For holding tools of any type, a garden trug is helpful. Essentially, they are long baskets that are perfect for carrying tools, string, and other garden supplies. I might also use them for collecting weeds in the garden. I have a more modern one with a metal mesh bottom and another one made from wood that is more of a classic English-styled trug.
This handful of hand tools are all great at lending me a “hand” in the garden!