11 Essential, Versatile and Long-Lasting Garden Tools

11 Essential, Versatile and Long-Lasting Garden Tools

Matthew Noiseux
Jun 10, 2010

If you only had only a small space to keep the tools for your gardening hobby, what would you keep above all else? Are there any tools that you found to be indispensable tool for gardening? I grew up in a place that had plenty of room for all of life's bad purchases, but don't have that luxury any more. So when faced with the challenge of putting together a highly useful, versatile and long-lasting collection of small tools, this is what I have come up with.

Recently I began to set aside a small space and figure out what would be the most useful for my needs and had to ask the question: If I were to put together a small group of items that would stand the test of time and be useful both indoors and out, what would be the best for my space?

Here is my initial list of bare-bone essentials:

1. Snips for the small stuff. They are spring-loaded for rapid and light clipping, like deadheading flowers on plants.

2. Pruners for the slightly larger jobs. Perfect for a woody shrub, roses, or plant with larger diameter branches. Also springloaded, but your wrist would tire from quick and repeated use. The term 'bypass pruners' refers to the blades, which overlap or 'bypass' each other.

3. A short-handled mattock. A versatile hand tool for working in the dirt, great for planters and planting beds. Either a standard steel model or stainless version. Although I feel that stainless is probably unnecessary if you clean your tools, I like the wedge that can be tapped in to tighten the oak handle.

4. A good steel trowel that will not bend at the neck when digging around or break where the handle and the blade meet when prying up some root-bound plants.

5. Some old oversized metal forks and spoons. Not from my silverware drawer and ones that I don't mind if they get bent up or damaged.

6. Sturdy natural twine. I have a roll of jute twine and use it for everything.

7. A set of thin bamboo garden stakes, which can be used for just about any staking or making small trellises.

8. Folding Japanese saw. I received one a number of years ago and have used it untold times for so many small garden projects. If not for receiving this as a gift I would never have imagined this tool's great usefulness.

9. Other smaller items:

  • Mineral oil and alcohol for tool cleaning
  • Cotton cloths or newspaper
  • Good set of gardening gloves

For now, this is the short list. It may expand, and will most likely do so as specific plant needs arise. But I will be interested to see if these items all are long-term and useful staples in the toolbox.

There is a bit of sticker shock on some items, but I approached the list with the understanding that these will be used for quite some time, and maybe even handed down some day. I have definitely thrown away my share of cheap items, and I know that I will always want to be doing something with plants, no matter how minor. Based on your experience, would you add or subtract anything? Have any tools been handed down in your family or any brands that you absolutely swear by for their quality?

Matt writes a weekly column on plants, flowers and gardening. Feel free to e-mail questions to matthew@apartmenttherapy.com

(Top Image: Etsy seller Treasureagain)

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