All I Want for Christmas – Garden Tools

A tool is a simple machine that makes work easier by allowing to push or pull over increased distances.  The right tool for a gardener makes all the difference when it comes to a gardening task.   High quality construction and materials are key to selection.  Look for a guarantee/warranty on any tool.  This is helpful for any moving parts, handles, breakage, replacements or sharpening.  Most gardeners use dull tools and don’t even know it!  The “sharpest tool in the shed”  is important when choosing gardening implements, it makes the work much easier. Although the most expensive tools may not be in your gift giving budget, do stay away from the cheapest tools on the shelf as they will not perform well.  Forged steel  handles are easier to maintain. Many are constructed in an ergonomic design with a rubber coating.  If the tool has a wood handle, make sure it is finely grained, like ash.


Spading Fork –  Useful for  breaking up clods, dividing perennials and digging up plants without slicing through the roots.

Cultivator –  Useful for working amendments such as compost or manure into the soil.

Irish Spade – Flat-side (not round point) helps when digging a straight-sided hole.  The longer narrow blade takes smaller “bites” but allows work to be done faster and for longer stretches.

Diamond hoe –  Sharp angled blades, shaped like a diamond, slide along or just under the soil surface to manually eradicate annual weeds. Allows for a “push-draw” stroke working in both directions.

Oscillating hoe – A double-edged blade is attached to the handle with a hinge, so the angle changes as you push forward and draw back.

Flat-head rake – Great tool for preparing a surface for planting by removing debris and smoothing the soil.

#2 Shovel – Standard American Round Point with 8”-12” blade. The most common gardening tool.  Definitely worth spending a little more on this one as it will be the most used for years.


Korean Hand Plow – Also, known as a homi. A versatile hand tool that dates back 2,000 years. It can be used to cultivate , bust clods, make furrows, scuffle out weeds, and move dirt around.

Bypass Pruner – Look for a ¾” capacity with a 45 degree angle, which is good for most smaller branches and makes a clean cut on live wood.  An anvil pruner will crush the plant tissue, use on dead wood.

“Dandelion”weeder –  An excellent tool for removal of tougher weeds with healthy taproots.    

Pruning Saw – Pick one with a 13” long blade, which can handle up to  4” thick branches. The handle should be fixed, not folding. Look for a Japanese triple-edge blades which has razor-sharp teeth on three sides. This allows for self-cleaning and works twice as fast as conventional blades.

Lopper – This tool provides leverage to cut branches that are thicker than ¾” around.  A heavy-duty model with 1-¾” bypass blades and 26” long handle will suit most gardening chores.

Trowel – Choose one with a sturdy handle, forged steel, sharp point and marked with inches on the blade.

Hori-hori – A Japanese tool, sometimes referred to as a “soil knife” or a “weeding knife”, is a heavy serrated multi-purpose steel blade for gardening jobs such as digging or cutting. The blade is sharp on both sides and comes to a semi-sharp point at the end. If your gift giving purchase is limited to only one tool, this would be the one!  Its multi-purpose use eliminates other hand digging/cutting tools.