Must-have gardening tools!

March 31, 2008 1:39:10 PM PDT
The gardening expert from the San Jose Mercury Holly Hayes recently gave Leigh Glaser some tips on tools that will make working in your garden much easier this year.

Holly Hayes' favorite tools:

Garden Kneeler: $34.95 from Gardeners Supply, www.gardeners.com; (888) 833-1412. Powder-coated tubular steel with double foam pads. Can be used as a knee-saving kneeling pad or flipped over to use as a comfortable seat. Folds flat for storage. For anyone with knee or back problems, this tool is a godsend in the garden.

Nitrile gloves: About $5-$8 per pair. Lightweight nylon knit gloves coated with nitrile that are meant to fit like a second skin. Available in a variety of colors in unisex sizes: small, medium, large and extra-large. Machine wash, air dry, over and over. Look for them at independent garden centers or search the Web (one site where I found them: www.gardenbasket.com, 800-398-0539).

"Sunset Western Garden Book": $34.95 at any good bookstore or nursery. There's a reason this book is called the "bible'' of gardening in the West. And the latest edition, published in 2007, has more than 500 new plant listings, boosting the total in the plant encyclopedia to more than 8,000 entries. Essential tool to understanding the plants in your garden and to choosing new plants to add.

Hori Hori knife: The Hori Hori knife is a standard Japanese utility knife that's great for cutting roots, repotting plants, cutting into bags of soil amendments, edging the lawn, scooping soil, etc. Prices range from the high teens to $25 and more, depending on the quality of the steel blade. Some are available with a sheath. Get the sheath. These are very sharp tools. Available all over the place online, and at some independent nurseries.

7-in-1 Planters' Buddy: An ingenious, stainless steel trowel-like garden tool that truly multi-tasks. The serrated edge of the six-inch blade makes quick work of opening balky bags of soil and mulch. The blade tip reaches hard-to-get weed roots. The straight edge cuts sod and a sharpened notch nips twine and makes quick work of weeds with long taproots. The blade is embossed with measurement markings for planting depth (one to six inches), and it's a guide for plant spacing (the tool is exactly one foot long). The plastic handle has a flat end that can be used to whomp in stakes or fertilizer spikes. And this baby makes quick work of planting bulbs and seedlings. About $15, at Lowe's, Home Depot and other retailers. Details: www.amestruetemper.com.

Felco pruners: You can buy cheaper pruners, but once you've tried the venerable Felco brand, you'll be sold for life. A pair of these Swiss-made pruners will run $50 or more, but think of it as a lifetime investment. Seriously, you can buy replacement parts and have these cleaned and sharpened over and over. Most high-end nurseries and garden centers carry some of the models, but you can see them all at www.felcostore.com.

More home and gardening information: www.mercurynews.com/homeandgarden

Check out Holly Hayes' blog: mercextra.com/blogs/garden/

Contact Holly Hayes: hhayes@mercurynews.com


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