Tool Time in the Garden

Favorite garden tools have been a hot topic at local Texas Garden Clubs meetings. While talking about tools, many garden club members from both clubs and their guests shared some gardening tips. You are invited to share in the comments what your favorite tool or garden tip is or one we left out.

Favorite tools:

  • Ratcheting loppers


  • Pruner: many had their favorite, so ask around. Sanitize with alcohol. Keep sharp using a whetstone and condition with oil.
  • Leaf picker uppers
  • Gloves: many gardeners have their favorite brand, so ask around. The gloves sold to work on roses going all the way up to your elbow were a favorite of many.
  • Whetstone for sharpening tools. Learn to use it correctly.
  • Cooking oil spray to put on tools before use for easy shaking off of dirt if you are not big on cleaning tools. Keeping your tools clean is recommended.
  • Bucket or bag of sand with a little bit of motor oil mixed in to clean and sharpen larger tools like shovels or pitchforks
  • Wooden Clothes pins: handy for things like pinning covers over tomato cages
  • Really long tweezers or long needle nose pliers to reach in between cactus to help with grooming cactus beds
  • Long jaws pliers to pull young tree seedlings
  • Garden cart to sit on that has storage for tools
  • Shuffle hoe for weeding
  • String, yarn, those stretchy lingerie straps on women’s clothing used to help secure shirts onto hangers in retail stores that have little use when you own the shirt and seem to forever end up flapping about outside of your shirt causing embarrassment. All can be used to tie plants, like tomatoes. Gardeners are pros at re-using things, which ties in well with the mission of National Garden Club “National Garden Clubs, Inc. provides education, resources, and national networking opportunities for its members to promote the love of gardening, floral design, and civic and environmental responsibility.” And the Conservation pledge “I pledge to protect and conserve the natural resources of the planet earth and promise to promote education so we may become caretakers of our air, water, forest, land, and wildlife.” – accessed January 24, 2020.
  • Japanese weeding sickle. Be mindful there are ones best used by left handed people and ones for right handed people, so shop carefully
  • Plastic flying discs can be used as sliders to help move heavy pots inside and out
  • Kneeling pad/kneelers to increase knee comfort
  • Books! Consult local gardeners for their favorites
  • Reusable leaf bags and the plastic things that hold the top open of bags
  • Use plant labels
  • Plant rosemary in a different location if one dies and you want to replace it
  • Old pill bottles can be used as shakers for small seeds by putting small holes in the lid
  • Heavy duty ice scoop from a restaurant supply store is great for scooping soil, bird seed, etc.
  • Doggy poop bags (unused of course!) are a great size for small amounts of trash or gathering plant material
  • Small plastic bags can be used to protect you from poison ivy oils by putting bag over the ivy and pulling out and turning inside out to close just like surgeons do when removing gloves or like dog owners do when picking up doggy poop in bags.
  • Use bright tape to mark your tools and to make them easier to spot in tool bag or on the ground
  • Use tea bags, coffee grounds, and crushed eggshells in the compost or directly added to soil to feed the garden microbes and improve soil health.
  • Use pecan shells as mulch.
  • Keep a gardening notebook or notepad and always have a pencil handy. Peel off information stickers on pots of plants purchased and put in the notebook for future reference.
  • Store an old sock with powdered sulfur in it in a plastic bag and before going into garden, take the sock out of the bag and bump it around your ankles before going out in the garden in warm weather to discourage chiggers, which are definitely a problem in Texas. Sure, you’ll smell like sulfur, but it beats those itchy chigger bites.


    Be mindful of your health when gardening:

  • Use gloves
  • Wear a hat
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants. Cover up that skin with clothing or sunscreen
  • Protect your back. Use proper lifting technique. Get help to move heavy objects. Use tools such as plastic discs to move heavy pots.
  • Stay hydrated, take a reusable bottle of water with you
  • Carry a dose of aspirin (3 to 4 of the 81 mg tablets of aspirin, or a 325 mg tablet) with you. Many serious gardeners are of, ah-hem, mature age, and if the signs of a heart attack come on, one gardener said taking a dose of aspirin is what helped her husband save her life, in addition to emergency medical help, which you should definitely get if you think you are having a heart attack. I recommend discussing this recommendation with your physician or pharmacist to make sure it is right for you, including a discussion of the other medications and medical conditions you have. I will add a recommendation to keep your aspirin supply in good dating, store it in a cool dry place, and discard when it is past the expiration date on the bottle. I suggest if you carry a dose with you out in the heat and humidity to garden regularly, go ahead and rotate it out with a fresh batch regularly to make sure it will do its job and will be safe to take. If it smells strongly like vinegar, it is time to rotate it out and discard the old ones. Give your in-date aspirin a whiff so you are familiar with what the normal smell level is.

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