What is your favorite gardening tool?

ernie85017February 23, 2014

Mine is my ho-mi. I have abused this thing for years, and it is still going strong. It's the one I always go to. The photo is not my ho-mi. Mine has the tip bent over from the crazy use it has suffered.
They sure are expensive now! Twice what I paid.

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raee_gw

Favorite gardening tool: my nephew.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 2:41PM
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GeeS 9b

Without a doubt...

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 5:36PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

A pick axe huh? Yikes. ernie, I like look of the ho-mi. I'll bet it's handy. I like my garden fork:

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 6:43AM
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GeeS 9b

The ground around my home would break your tools -- unless it was softened up with a pick first. Then there's the caliche...

Another handy tool is a trenching shovel. Not as effective as a pick of course, but better for confined areas where you either don't have room to swing a pick or fear damaging delicate surroundings. Normal shovels are nearly useless here.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 1:09PM
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lazy_gardens

There's a reason they call it "pick and shovel" work. You loosen dirt with a pick and move it around with a shovel. It's far more efficient.

Definitely the mattock ... some of you might call it a pick-axe. Pointy on one end with a root-chopping blade at the other.

Or the Pulaski, which has blades perpendicular to each other for digging and chopping:

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 12:06PM
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GeeS 9b

I was so naive when I first moved to AZ from the Midwest. I had brought a few yard tools from home, and recall my very first attempt at some real gardening here. I grabbed my dirt shovel and a couple buckets and headed out to the front to plant a 7-gal Agave parryi I had picked up. Three hours later I was still hacking at some caliche with a hammer and chisel, and finally had a hole large enough to hold the plant. I spent the next few days watching local landscapers before heading out and procuring new yard tools. The trenching shovel was my first major addition, a couple weeks later I added a 6# pickax.

The trenching shovel turned what had been a 3-hour job into about 30 minutes, the pick got it down to about 15. Still the trenching shovel is often a far better choice for getting around caliche than a pick, though if there is so much caliche that I must go through it, then the pick of course, though I broke a bone in my thumb that way once. Anyway, both tools remain very useful.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 2:57PM
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Raimeiken - z9b - Peoria, AZ

water and my pickaxe are my go to digging tools.

but I recently just got an electric rototiller and it's made digging a whole lot quick. Plus it helps me mix in the compost, sand, and mulch a lot quicker with the native soil.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 7:38PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)


^ For digging, planting, weeding .....


^ Nothing works better, or faster, for deadheading. It's about 7" long.


^ This is a concave cutter for bonsai. There are no pruners on the market that even come close to having the mechanical advantage, and therefore ease of cutting (up to about 5/8") this tool has.

Al

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 7:53PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

I've got to say, a pick axe is definitely my favorite tool too. There's just no beating it for digging deeply in our soil, especially in summer, hah! Yes, I always wear, and recommend everyone does, some protective eye gear when using mine. It does a great job and I keep it handy.

After that, the good ol' hula hoe is my next favorite (for weeding). All of my gardens have gravel mulch so it's great for "shaving" weeds down while leaving most of the gravel in place. Okay, okay, technically they're called "scuffle hoes" (I think Hula Hoe is a specific brand) but like "Kleenex" some folks just use the brand name generically. Anyway, I love it for those pesky weed seedlings, especially on a warm morning when the late morning sun is going to cook any shaved off seedlings, hah. Easily available at any local nursery or big box home improvement story. Great, fun discussion and pics!

Happy gardening all!
Grant

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 8:53AM
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Juttah

Definitely a san angelo bar. It's a heavy hexagonal metal javelin with a point on one end and a chisel on the other.

After watching me spend 45 minutes digging a hole for a 1-gallon creosote bush (with 4 more to go), a kind neighbor loaned me his. WOW! I liked it so much I went out and bought my own. Worth every penny and then some.

The pointy end does a great job punching through hard soil (you just lift/drop repeatedly, watch your feet!) and the chisel is perfect for prying out those annoying rocks that always seem to be in the exact same spot where you want to plant.

There's no way I could've planted 12 trees, all by myself, without this tool (and I'm a girl!)

Here is a link that might be useful: San Angelo Digging Bar

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 2:48PM
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Raimeiken - z9b - Peoria, AZ

I've been meaning to get one of those bars as well ^^ I have a few stumps that i need to remove in my backyard.

Hey tapla, what's the name of that 2nd pruning tool you posted? looks interesting. I'm tired of the regular garden shears, they seem to not cut so well after a few months of use.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 4:57PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The second tool I showed upthread is a bonsai leaf cutter - used to defoliate bonsai trees. We defoliate or partially defoliate to balance energy in trees so they don't shed branches important to the composition and to help reduce leaf size. It does a stellar job at deadheading spent blooms, too. It's MUCH faster than any scissors or pruners I've used.

Another tip - herb cutters like this are great for deadheading:

They spring open after you make the cut and are much faster than scissors, but not as fast as the leaf cutters.

Messermeister herb snippers - copy/paste the following link to your browser:

http://www.messermeister.com/4.5-Inch-Herb-Snipper-N5120/

For the leaf cutters - copy paste:

http://www.dallasbonsai.com/product-p/bm44.htm

Al

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 5:22PM
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toucan(9)

How about the names of all the tools?

I need the best weeder?

It is hard weeding in gravel and mulch. What is the best tool for getting Bermuda grass out of areas of gravel. I won't use chemicals plus they don't work either.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 12:32AM
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lazy_gardens

JUTTAH - Why is it called a "San Angelo bar"? I've seen them called "breaker bars" and they are fabulous when you need to bust up the really hard stuff.

TOUCAN: The best weeder for gravel is that "hula hoe" Grant posted. It goes under the gravel and slices the stems. For bermuda grass ... glyphosate several times when the grass is growing well. Don't pull the grass and spray the remaining bits ... you need to have plenty of top growth. See linked article.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to kill bermuda grass.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 3:17PM
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Juttah

Don't know why it's called a San Angelo bar... I've been wondering myself! Googling it brings up this tool in addition to drinking establishments in San Angelo, TX. Strange name for a digging tool, that's for sure.

Also heard it called a Mexican Toothpick. For the record, mine's made in Mexico and it's almost heavy enough to double as a workout device!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 11:56AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Good tip about the San Angelo bar, Juttah, I may have to get one of those too. I especially like your description of how helpful it is prying out those rocks you find (I just can't leave them in the ground, no matter how big they are, hah). Thanks too for remind us to watch our feet when using it!

Happy gardening all!
Grant

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 11:07AM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

A thread worth bumping.

I've been through a few different garden scoop / trowels. Some are heavy, some are flimsy and most handle very little soil, at least for me.

My fav is an old, I guess antique or at least vintage, flour/sugar/feed store scoop.

So comfortable. Moves a lot of soil.

This one is made of sheet metal formed and welded so the handle is hollow. Very light, very strong. Never seems to rust, don't know why. It is galvanized but at least some spots the zinc must be gone.

The metal is thin enough that it's easier to plow thru soil than thicker trowels. But this is strong, no flex at all. Due to the shape I think, every surface is curved. I scoop soil, rocks, you name it. The inside of the scoop is smooth, no bolt heads or even weld marks so no place for soil to stick and accumulate.

The shape of the scoop keeps the soil from spilling out until you want to dump it.

And to boot these are surprisingly cheap imo. I think I paid $5-10 for this a few years ago at Zinnias at Melrose. But I see them on Ebay a lot in the $5-20 range. So about the same price as a crappy trowel.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2015 at 3:29PM
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Raimeiken - z9b - Peoria, AZ

This post hole auger have been a life saver for me. It's so much better than the clam shell type of post diggers. All you do is twist it and it digs a 6-8" hole for you. If I run into a big rock, I grab my san angelo bar to pry them out. I use it to dig deep hole when I'm planting big trees, shrubs, etc. to give them a much better drainage. I can easily dig a hole 4-5ft deep with it. (I've read some people have done much deeper, by getting a longer threaded metal pipe and attach it to it.)

    Bookmark   January 12, 2015 at 5:51PM
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user_unknown

Always have my Corona handheld Bypass pruner with leather holster and sharpener in my pocket. I trim everything with these, keep the razor sharp and they will slice through a one inch branch like a hot knife through butter.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2015 at 8:02PM
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toucan(9)

Because of this thread I bought a hula hoe and it has saved my back. Thanks. I like using for a scoop a plastic milk carton with the bottom cut out. I also like using a medium sized tin can for scooping stuff. Both are free and work exceptionally well.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2015 at 8:48PM
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campv

When using the "Bar" just remember when you lift and drop that thing down in the soil don't hang on to tight. If you hit a large rock it will shake you to your core or look like something out of a bugs bunny cartoon.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 4:19PM
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Fascist_Nation(9b)

I guess my favorite is a 5" wide blade trenching shovel with a long handle.

The mattock pick mentioned would be my close second.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2015 at 5:53PM
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waterbug_guy(Phoenix AZ (Melrose))

Today cleaning up I noticed a tool I use a lot, probably more than any other, but I take it for granted.

Cheap, strong but light weight. Pry bar, axe, scoop and even digging. If fav tool is the tool you'd least like to not have...I have to say shovel.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2015 at 9:43PM
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ernie85017

rameiken: I am thinking that digger would be a good way to dig some deep watering holes around my trees for deep summer watering. I do the overnight thing, but always feel like they never get enough. A good place to drop in some organic fertilizer or compost, too.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2015 at 7:35PM
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harolds(9)

Interesting thread. I have a hula hoe too, but I like my circle hoes better. When Mary Irish was still living and writing here, in one of her columns she recommended this hoe. I bought all three and they are just super. Smaller blade area and can get close to plants, etc. http://www.circlehoe.com/
Another favorite is an old fashioned hoe handle. Years ago in Phoenix our alley had four-household dumpsters. You always lifted the lid slowly because you never knew what might be in there. One time a neighbor had thrown away a hoe handle because the blade had come off, leaving a nice "hook" on the end of the handle. I've used that so often for so many things. It's like an extension of your arm.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2015 at 1:00AM
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agility_mom(z9 AZ)

I actually have different categories of favorites for different gardening applications.

I love my Mantis tiller. That little thing goes thorough rough ground and fits in tighter spots in my garden beds. It makes my gardens beds soft and fluffy and mixes the soil amendments in very well. It has saved me tons of work.

For planting trees in this hard ground, I agree with Lazy gardens, I love the mattock. The type that I like have a bit of weight to them.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2015 at 12:48PM
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