A Home for Your Gnome

Gardening Advice from a Fan of Fun!

We all have our favorites

June 17, 2024 | Maintenance, Plants

Name the one garden tool that makes you smile

It’s really hard to pick the one I can’t live without. Read on to find out who wins.

If you’re a parent with more than one kid, may I ask which is your favorite? Do you have more than one pet? Which one is in your will? Of all the garden tools in your garage or shed, which is the one you can’t live without? Getting any easier? Probably only slightly. If you’re a die-hard gardener, ask yourself this question. If you’re not a gardener, thanks for stumbling upon this site but what are you doing here?

As you’re well aware, most of my writings to this point have been very one-sided. Me telling you something. I’d like this one to be different. Please reply to the notice you got about this post and tell me which tool you treasure. Send a picture if you’d like! Okay, on with our story.

My dad, always the engineer, was fond of saying “The right tool for the right job”. I couldn’t agree more. Especially every “Black Friday” (the day after we don the stretchy pants for Thanksgiving) when I dust off my 18” soil auger and attach it to a fully charged drill in order to begin planting a couple hundred tulip bulbs.

Tools are cool in general but I really dig those of the garden variety (baba bum!). When I began writing this, I thought I could easily name my favorite implement. Now that the ink has begun flowing, I’m finding it pretty tough! (yes, I actually put pen to paper before I tap away on the keyboard).

The first tool that pops into my brain is my trusty mattock. Whose horizontal blade now has more curves than Dolly after I attempted to straighten it once one of my students was finished losing a battle with an immovable rock. For some reason, this is my “go to tool” when digging small holes for annuals and perennials as I can choke up on the handle and go to town both digging and breaking up dirt clods before tucking the plants into the soil.

I think I’ll rename her “Dolly”.

We’ve had a pair of Swiss-made, Pica 2, hook-nosed hand pruners for as long as I can remember. I often fear I’ve lost them and left them out in the weather to rust. I’m pretty sure my wife has an identical pair stashed just in case this should ever happen. I love the hook-nose part and the way it’s able to hold a branch for the cut without letting it slide away. As you all know, a gardener without clippers is akin to being 100 miles into a road trip before you do a panicked butt-grab looking for your wallet. Not a good feeling to be without either that wallet OR your pruners.

I also have a very heavy-duty, 40” all-steel spade that has yet to lose a match to a stubborn root. I vividly remember using this tool in front of a small group of folks in our church’s courtyard digging up a decent-sized dead crape myrtle. “He might be small but he sure is scrappy!” someone commented. I’m still not sure whether they were talking about me or the spade.

I’m not sure if this qualifies as a garden tool but I have to give a shout-out to my wood-handled, corn broom(s)! I added the plural on this as I burn through brooms like some people do paper towels. And for some odd reason, I can’t seem to throw them away after I’ve worn them down to stiff stubble. I’ve built a relationship with every one! My daughter joked that it looked like I was preparing for the witch conference as I was lining these up for a photo yesterday. We have a fair amount of hardscape and many large trees in or near our garden. And I’m kind of a neat freak. Put these all together and you get a lot of sweeping. And I’ve never owned a blower. Yep. I’m the one.

The collection. Tallest is the current taskmaster.

To wrap this up, I was tempted to finish with a nice trowel tribute as we all know how indispensable a good one is. But rather than rattle on about a tool that is likely at the top of many lists, I’m going to reverently place at the top of the medal podium my 57-1/2”, 4 lb., hickory handled, #2, steel round-point shovel. I really should name her as we’ve been through so much together. More than once I’ve been tempted to paint her camo and duct tape a flashlight on her handle pointing toward the blade as together, we’ve gone rogue and planted more than 50 trees in my neighborhood. This typically happens in the early morning dark on a Sunday when most folks are still enjoying their weekend sleep. Most of this guerrilla gardening activity takes place on public (but sometimes private) land. I chalk this up to one small thing I can do to keep our little corner of this planet green and cool.

The “winner”!

So, now that my pen is running dry, let me know what/who is your favorite! Reply back to the notice you received about this post. Who knows? I’ll put the results at the end of next Monday’s post.

Till next time,


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