With the holidays behind us and seed catalogs filling my mailbox, I begin to think about our backyard again and what I might grow this year. I’ll save garden planning for a future post, but I wanted to share some of my favorite garden tools to use in the backyard. Some are pretty common and others a bit unique.
Must Have Garden Tools
1. Tape (Duct and Painters)
I’m a big fan of pest removal that doesn’t require pesticides, so duct tape and painters (blue) tape come in really handy for this. They are both pretty inexpensive and easy to find at your local hardware or home improvement store. I use duct tape to grab the clever and tough striped cucumber beetles that plagued my squash, cucumbers and pumpkins last summer. The painters tape is the less sticky than duct tape, but extremely effective in catching aphids or eggs of other pests on young or delicate plants.
Although I bought my first pair over a decade ago for a basket making class, they have been working overtime in my garden and inside with the house plants ever since. What I like about these shears, as opposed to traditional garden shears, is that they are:
- Easy to grip with large handles
- Snip through strong stuff with ease
- Fine pointed to get into small or delicate areas easily
- Able to hold up to the elements well (I’ve left mine outside a few times) NOTE: The one pictured is my new shears that I got for Christmas (Thanks Mom!). My original is starting to get a bit of rust on it, but it still functions just fine!!
Unless there is a basket making shop in your area, these can be found online. They are also called Reed Cutting Shears.
3. ZIP TIES
These are another find a long time ago in basket making class. If you do any vertical gardening (growing plants up to save space) or grow tall plants such as tomatoes or dahlias, zip ties come in very handy to secure or restrain plant life. I’ve worked with wire, string, twine, and Velcro before, but continue to say these are the best. They are inexpensive and pretty easy to find at your hardware or home improvement store. If you buy a container like the one pictured, it will last forever (well, almost forever…I’ve had this one for over 5 years). Because they are plastic, they are waterproof, so they’ll last throughout the growing season. Easy to attach and easy to snip off with the shears.
For a number of years we used a traditional garden hose to water the plants and it was such a chore to wind up and store. Then one day my husband came home with a small package containing a 50′ expanding garden hose and we’ve never looked back! This hose expands to the full 50′. We have added another to it to get the 75′ needed to reach the back of the yard. It’s light, takes only a few minutes to wrap up, and stored in a tiny pile. Watering the plants has definitely gotten more enjoyable! NOTE: If you do leave the hose under pressure for extended periods of time without using it, eventually it will burst in wherever the weakest spot of hose is. We learned that the hard way. We haven’t done that since and have had no issues.
These were a new addition this year and I’m super happy I found them! These trays, purchased from Gardener’s Supply, are made from a very durable recycled plastic. I initially bought them for the plants I was bringing inside for the winter. Turns out they hold the water that drains out when watering AND the water that doesn’t make it into the pots when my daughter helps me water! I also plan to use them as the bottom of my seed starting kits rather than the flimsy plastic trays that the kits come with. Last year one of my three trays came with a hole which I only found after it made a huge mess everywhere. I will not be repeating that this year or anytime in the future with these trays!
6. HEAD LAMP
I need to give my husband a sincere thanks for this one because when he brought the head lamp home I honestly thought it was kind of silly and not needed as I had plenty of flashlights. Boy, was I wrong! The head lamp has super powerful LED lights (and we bought Energizer’s most basic model) that shine as bright or brighter than any flashlight. Being hands free is so underrated because I can now:
- More easily and quickly snip herbs or veggies in the dark for last minute dinner additions
- Finish a gardening task even though the sun has gone down
- Hunt for slugs and snails with my daughter before they can eat our plants
Two hands are certainly better than just one and a nice bright light to see is priceless!
This last favorite tool I also purchased from Gardeners Supply and has greatly helped me grow cucumbers this past summer while maximizing space in my backyard. The grid and support poles are extremely sturdy metal, so it can take the weight of a lot of veggies (I had 10 cucumber plants) hanging from it. I liked that all of the produce was hanging, so it was off the ground and easy to find and pick. The shade created by the leaves growing up the grid was perfect cover for lettuce and dill plants which didn’t bake in the midsummer sun and produced like crazy! A big win in space savings! For more space saving, garden planning ideas, check out this post.
There are more tools that I use on a regular basis, but these are the ones that I love because they save me time, space, and headaches. Anything that makes gardening easier and more enjoyable is a win-win in my book! I hope you’ll give a few a try. What are your favorite garden tools? Let me know in the comments!