The first is pruning and cutting. Yesterday I showed you the most expensive gardening tool I own (my Sneeboer Ladies Spade) and mentioned that I thought it was worth the expense because it’s a high-quality tool that I think will last my lifetime. So it’s clear that I don’t mind paying more for quality when it’s called for. But sometimes I like to straddle the line of getting a good tool without spending a lot. I’m sure there are better pruning and cutting tools out there, but I don’t feel like I use them often enough to justify spending more.
And here’s a little secret: Sometimes I accidentally leave my tools laying right where I left them. Often for days, and possibly for weeks.
I try very hard not to do that, but I have rusted loppers beyond practical use in the past because I lost them in a pile of trimmings. And that’s why I don’t buy very expensive loppers anymore.
The first two tools in my pruning and cutting arsenal—my Bahco pruners and my A.M. Leonard Deluxe Soil Knife—were covered yesterday. The rest of them all happen to be Fiskars, which seems to strike the right balance of quality and affordability and has the added advantage of being easy to find in stores.
3. FISKARS POWERGEAR LOPPER
I won these from a giveaway on another blog and I have to say, I really like these loppers. They are shorter in the handle (which I like because I feel it gives me more control) and ratcheted, so they have extra cutting power. If I can fit in the jaws (I’d say they open to allow about a 1.25-inch branch), it will cut it and they’ve never failed me yet. They are also extremely light, which is maybe not necessary but awfully nice.
4. FISKARS HEDGE SHEARS
I use these for rough pruning of things like my meatball boxwoods as well as cutting back ornamental grasses and mass quantities of perennials in fall or winter. They seem to keep a pretty good edge and they haven’t done anything to make me not like them, so they work for me.
5. FISKARS FOLDING SAW
I got this folding saw this year to manage some branches that wouldn’t fit in my loppers or were at an odd angle that couldn’t be reached with a larger tool. I’ve only used it a couple times, including when I dug a hole for a new tree and had to cut away some old roots intruding in the hole. That didn’t do the blade any favors, but that’s sort of the beauty of having a $10 tool; it’s not the end of the world if you have to do something that dulls the blade.
I don’t really love them. The blade seems really floppy to me, which makes it hard to cut with, but then again I’m not the most practiced saw user in the world either. I don’t think I’d buy them again, but I also wouldn’t spend a ton of money on a tool like this (see aforementioned cutting of underground roots).
I haven’t counted, but I’ll bet I have six rakes in the garage. That’s ridiculous and there is no need for them. At all. I have a plastic lawn rake for leaves (not included here) and then these three that I use in the actual garden.
1. GROUNDHOG ROUND RAKE
I can’t tell you why the shape of rake matters, but for whatever reason, this rake is great for spreading material. It works wonders on bark mulch, smoothing it easily and distributing it evenly. It also works for spreading out soil amendments like compost and manure, although it doesn’t get a surface perfectly level. It also has a lightweight aluminum handle, which I really appreciate.
2. METAL RAKE
This came from a big box store and there is nothing special about it, but it’s still the best tool in the shed for evening out the soil. We’ll be filling in around the driveway with topsoil and reseeding soon and this will be our most used tool for that. I like to use the tines for sort of rough work and then flip it over and lightly use the flat back for a super smooth finish if that’s what I’m going for.
3. ADJUSTABLE RAKE
The only thing that’s special about this metal-tined rake is that it is adjustable so it can be as narrow or wide as you need it. That is particularly helpful for raking leaves out of beds around plants. When it’s fully extended, the tines are pretty flexible so I find that it is far less damaging to the crowns of plants you might hit with it than your typical plastic lawn rake is.