Best yard tools ? Quality made ...

leafwatcher(zone 5)August 6, 2011

As I was working with my broken handled hoe, and Creaky old shovel today, I thought to stop and ask what is the way to go if you want to be a good hand tool for the long haul.. I thought I had even heard someone made stainless metal hand tools? I can't say I have noticed them in the store before ..But its been a long time since I had to buy one..

What can you recommend?

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These guys make great tools

Here is a link that might be useful: EasyDigging

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 12:32PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

craftsman ...

and when you break it.. they give you another for free ...

or in my case.. i retired mine after 20 years of service.. and got a new one free.. i was upset he would not let me take the old one ... but its the rules ... i was going to make garden out out of it ...

go for the reinforced fiberglass one ... it doesnt rot like wood does ...


    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 3:28PM
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About 20 years ago I bought a 'King Of Spades' from AM Leonard. I have used it for everything from prying boulders to digging hostas. It is now the only shovel I use except to move snow. You could dig a hole in a limestone driveway with it.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 3:49PM
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leafwatcher(zone 5)

Dang,that is one tricked out spade,and that hoe selection looks like mining tools !

I have a birthday on the way (Don't we all?) :)

might have to treat myself if nobody else will take a hint here at home , hahahha

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 10:19PM
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buckeye15(No OH)

For digging tools, I really like the stainless steel Radius tools. They are well worth the little extra money.

Here is a link that might be useful: Radius

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 11:48PM
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We have one of the 'King of Spades' from Am Lenoard.
We have broken so many fiberglass spades, that it was getting very expensive buying spades. A good spade is well worth the money in the long run.

My husband has the long handle spade and I have the one on the link.

Here is a link that might be useful: King of Spade with d grip handle

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 9:26AM
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bernd ny zone5

For digging around perennials I use a spade with a long rounded blade as used in digging drainage ditches, around $20 at big box stores. I also have stainless steel (or chromed steel?) spade and fork, last forever, bought them on sale via a website, possibly a nursery. I also have a spade which cracked in the middle of the blade, never broke, use that since 20 years. All my tools I clean under water after use. Spades I regularly sharpen with a file to enable them to cut through roots. In fall I spray the steel with WD40, last forever. My wooden handles never rotted or broke, well-kept tools are your friends, always there ready when you need them.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 9:44AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

solid steel is a prime took.. at near 7 pounds.. the $10 sears one is 4 pounds...

you might not think that 2 pounds can make that much difference.. but over a long day.. it might kill you.. lol ...

sooo.. mail ordering shovels might be problematic.. though i sure like amleo ...

the most important thing to buy.. when you buy your shovel.. as bern noted.. is a good file to sharpen the shovel ...

a sharp shovel is the greatest thing since a steak knife versus a butter knife ...


    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 2:40PM
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With a heavier shovel you have to learn to let the weight of the shovel do the work for you. I have had times when I was digging trees for 8 or 10 hours and it is less work using a heavy spade. Each time you put spade to soil, it does more.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 9:23PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

I got the Radius border fork last summer, next on my list is the Radius transplant spade. The grip is great for my hands and wrists. I also love the Am Leonard soil knife. That little tool is always with me. I gave my trowel away as I no longer used it.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 9:39PM
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Broke a Fiskars garden fork this summer - they replaced under lifetime warranty. Picked up a Radius garden fork while waiting for replacement - stainless steel and very nice - would recommend. Radius is also lifetime warranty,

Also would recommend a tru temper 7-in-1 garden trowel/tool (link below). Lowe's and Ace carry it - think I paid $8-10.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 10:20PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Felco pruners. I have a #6 for smaller hands, and my husband has #2. Easily sharpened, and the blade can be replaced. Most important is that they feel good in your hand.

I use the black plastic trowels...I have 3 of each size. I lose season. The skinny one is good for planting 6 packs of annuals or ground cover, and the wider one is great for mixing bark and compost for my pots.

My best "tool" however is those rubber finger coated garden gloves. I wear out 3 pair each year, but I love them because I can smash earwigs and other nasties with my fingers.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 11:36PM
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Agree that heavier isn't always better. I prefer the shorter handled tools so I can get in & around plants when moving them.

The 4 tined garden fork was the best Mother's Day gift from my teens a few years back. They knew their mom would "dig" that one!

Esp like the curved handles on the stainless steel hand tools. Have several types & transplanter with the green handle from Fred Meyer clearance rack last fall is my new favorite.

I like to have the small tools handy in the front yard, back yard, & edible gardens, so keep an empty pot of them tucked away in each place.

The best tool is one that you use & it works!


    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 6:48PM
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"The best tool is one that you use & it works!"

Ain't it the truth !!!!
10 years ago I fell and broke my left wrist. I'm right handed, so it wasn't the end of the world, but all of my tools required two hands, and I still wanted to be able to do some work in garden. So I went shopping for a child's rake.....and I am still using it today. It's perfect for so many places under and around roses and other shrubs, along walkways, etc. I look around all the time at similarly shaped rakes and I still haven't seen one that has the right feel to it.....Fancy ones, shmancy ones, Lowes, Home Depot, the feed store, the nursery....No one has one as good as the old kiddie rake....


    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 7:16PM
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I am a short older lady so I need an easy to use short shovel. My daughter bought me a neat short one by Ames some years ago. The handle end is slanted back. It is perfect for me.. Then they came out with a line called Earth Tools. I bought a few for friends and family.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 8:45PM
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Want to bring this back to the top. I ordered a couple of tools today, to go along with the spud fork I got about a week ago. Only my spud fork with four tines is not "diamond" shaped, only square tined and stainless steel. I think it is a Stearns and Jackson? don't recall offhand, but it is a pretty thing. Got it through Amazon. Love nice tools. I got a 26" handled digging tool double ended for working in raised beds, and then a long handled old world style hoe with a head on it weighing 3 pounds. I think we will be able to dig trenches to bury the irrigation pipe and such later this year with that tool.

I'll mention this small light weight hand tool called the TRAKE which I bought from Foxgloves, actually I am on my third one, the other two having had the tip of the digging end broken off by roots in the holes I wanted to dig. See what you think of this, nice for digging in flower pots too.

Spud Fork

Trake from Foxgloves

Anyone else buying tools? Let's update what you have.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 3:22PM
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ApprenticeGardener(7b or 8)

Here's my list:


All Around Tool--A M LEONARD SOIL KNIFE (new design)

Spade--CLARINGTON FORGE (English Bulldog Brand)

Fork--I imagine if I had to replace my "old School" SMITH & HAWKEN Forged Fork, I would go with CLARINGTON FORGE. The current S&H tools are NOT the same quality as the old ones.

Knives--OPINEL Carbon Blade

Hand Tools (Trowel,Etc.)--Usually buy these as cheap as possible, since they are not intended to do "heavy-duty" work. The "All Around Tool" mentioned above has replaced nearly every one I had except for a "Soil Scoop" used to move planting mix/soil from one place to another.

Best Wishes--Carl

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 3:33PM
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I got a nice wide hoe, reminds me of some old European painting of farmers digging in the field (Millett?) because it is ancient design. It will dig a trench deep enough for laying irrigation pipe or a drain. It came from the Easy Digging folks, and I got a sort of adz, longer handle which they recommend because it will drop with more force. It came with a nice file for sharpening.

Today at WalMart I picked up a Fiskars short handled lopper so I can keep my bougainvillea trimmed without too much blood letting. My Fiskars clippers are I think #8, or whatever number it is for left handers. You can buy replacement parts for Fiskars, and they are really fine hand tools.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 9:30PM
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MadPlanter1 zone 5


Thanks for the tip. I cracked my Fiskars D-ring shovel and have been hunting for a new one. I had no idea they'd replace it! Love the wide ledge and the two handed D ring. I tend to stand on the ledge and rock the shovel, then pry up. Gets through roots and heavy clay, but I guess I did it once too often.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 5:27AM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

Moccasin, I'm glad you mentioned the Easy Digging tools. I ordered two very excellent tools from them two years ago and could not have been more pleased. I needed a slightly different hoe from the one I had (a grape hoe) for dealing with the discovery of gopher and mole and vole tunnels all around the property. Sitting here with my cup of tea I can't remember the other one I got, but....I highly recommend their tools and their service.

As for clippers? Felco and Felco and yet another Felco (and yes, I have three, only because over the past 30 years I have had lapses in caring for them and have had to add a new one until the old ones eventually got put back to rights). They all get used regularly (there are more than 250 roses which need pruning and deadheading)....whichever one I can find at the time.

My only Fiskar tool is an extending tree trimmer that has served me well. I can extend it some 10-12 feet over my head and trim trees even the neighbor's goats can't reach. And when a part broke, Fiskars sent me a replacement without so much as a whisper of complaint. Good customer service is my favorite thing.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 11:24AM
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Bump this for Ludi's shovel hunt.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 10:42PM
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MadPlanter1 zone 5

A good word & tip of the hat for Fiskars; they sent a spade by mistake when I asked for a replacement on the broken D-ring shovel. When I called about the mistake, they shipped the shovel and told me to keep the spade. It was like getting a late Christmas present!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 1:05AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I have for years used Lee Valley for hand tools, and have not been disappointed. If you ever break one they will replace it with no questions about how you broke it. Al

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 9:14AM
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garden_crazy(z5 N IL)

My favs are my Fiskars gardening scissors (probably my most used gardening tool), Fiskars loppers (with ratchet), Fiskars folding tree saw and a Farm and Fleet shovel with a 3' D handle and is just the right size for planting a gal. size perennial or smaller plants. I can step on the shovel and get in small place and I hardly ever use a trowel anymore -too hard to get that low! I agree also, that Fiskars customer service is excellent.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 9:15AM
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bernd ny zone5

I get good work out of tools which cost less than $25, and I do all the garden and bush work on my 0.45 acre lot over 40 years. I do not see the need to spend more than that. You have to clean, oil and maintain your tools, keep them in a dry and cool space. Bernd

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 9:24AM
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Anything by Fiskars. They are strong and well made, plus if anything at all goes wrong with them they are guaranteed for life.

I know from experience you don't even have to have a receipt for a replacement. We had a lopper bend on us and they replaced it with no questions asked.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 3:24PM
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I had a good transplanting shovel, but bent the blade last year. My replacement will be the lifetime warranty Radius Transplanter. I now know that with tools, you get what you pay for!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 9:23PM
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Ludi _PA_7a

Thanks for the bump Mocc :)

There are FAR too many options when it comes to gardening tools. It is potentially another addiction in the making.

There are so many different speciaized tools out there for very specific jobs. Some of which I would probably never run into in any practical garden, but how cool would it be to sat that you have TOOL A to do crazy highly specific JOB Z.

I will say this, I'm hunting for lifetime warranty at this point. :p


    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 7:11PM
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gogirlterri(5 IL)

Last years unattended gardens were a mess and I helped clean the weeds, etc. from by bro's hosta beds. I fell in love with his shuffle(stirrup?) hoe. I couldn't hack with it but really leaned on the handle without breaking it. I could get the blade to run almost 2" under the surface to get out all but the deepest weed roots. Once the more mature weeds were out it was easy to just let the blade glide over the dirt to cut down newly emerging growth.
I've looked at Ace Hdwe and they are not expensiver at all. I worked it really hard last summer and it had held up. We couldn't have gotten the task done without it, and it is no worse for wear.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 8:15AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

My digging pole, I don't know how I lived without one. Great for moving large stones, breaking up hard-packed ground, flat end for chopping at roots...destruction and re-arrangement of all types.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 8:48AM
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Here's a list of tools I could not live without:

Digging Pole: (Same as above), mine has a "spear" end, and a chisel end, great for breaking through dried clay and prying out unruly plants, stones, etc. It will rust as the tips are worn, and it can also be sharpened. Heavy also, so beware.

Hand Mattock: This is a tool that is so versatile, you may never use an individual fork or spade again. Mine is from Yard Butler, and has a great handle, and good heft and the weld seems to be strong so far. One end is the cultivating fork, the other is the traditional "mattock" end, a blend between a spade and a pick. Great for lifting, cultivating, dividing, just about anything.

D-Handle Shovel: I have one of the Husky Brand shovels of this type, and the great thing about it is the "super socket" option, which means you can put a lot of leverage onto the shovel, and the risk of breaking the handle, or spade off, is very unlikely, they are also not as pricey as some of those brands mentioned above, which are of professional strength and durability. Literally a third of the cost of those. You can get the socket design for the digging spade, and transfer shovel ( I have both) these are both indispensable for gardening and planting, and mulching and cleanup.

Thatching rake: Great way to clean up trouble spots in the lawn, or refresh thick thatch areas. Also, it is a great way to overseed thin, or reseed bare areas, because you can cut some nice grooves with the rake, better than a tine, or garden rake. Also, thatching this way is great exercise, so long as your yard is well under an acre.

Mulching Rake: Not just great for mulch, but also works well for raking things out of grass delicately, without overly harming grass, a tined rake, or garden rake cannot boast this. In the prime season, if things have blown into the yard, I use it to remove the items without ripping up grass, since it has a small, plastic rake head. Also, the long handle is great for evening out mulch in big beds, or under big shrubs, when they are otherwise difficult to get to.

Lastly, a great Wheelbarrow: I bought the Ames True Temper Poly Wheelbarrow, and have not been disappointed. There are many bad reviews on Home depot's site, and I cannot see why. My father in law and I built our 16x32 deck together, and we used this to move a broken up concrete pad, earth, rocks, timber scraps, not to mention, mixing over 70 bags of concrete in the tub. Also, I have used it to mix seed and earth for overseeding, and for transferring and dumping mulch. Only problem I have had is needing to fill the tires a couple of times, which makes sense, since I have put a lot of weight on it. I also love the ergronomic handles.

Good Luck.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 11:00AM
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MFIX, I'm interested in your Mulching Rake. Never saw one. I have most of the other tools, only not the wheelbarrow you mentioned. Next time we go to the box store, we'll look for the Ames True Temper Ply Wheelbarrow. When DH sold his house, most of his tools were part of the deal. So we could use something good.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 3:55PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

MFIX, I have a 'Hand Mattock'. Around here about 30% of people (me included) just call it a pick and 70% call it a 'grub hoe'. I have never heard the term hand mattock before. Regional quirk, I suppose.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 6:20PM
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'Digging Pole' AKA 'Breaker Bar'.....I'm with you guys, I can't live without that.

Don B.
Westminster, CO.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 11:20PM
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"Grub Hoe". I like that. Moccasin, I think that the actual technical term is a "Shrub Rake", if you are looking for one. I always use it to even out mulch in our beds, or to reach around shrubs (hence the name I suppose). But, I really love the fact that it has a very long handle, is light, and has a less aggressive head than metal varieties.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 12:24AM
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gogirlterri(5 IL)

Arkansas-'Rock Bar'
And a mattock is not a pick but sometimes has a pick on one end and the flat hoe-like other end. The hand mattock is just a small version used with one hand. I need it because my arms are rather weak and using a hand trowel to dig is hard for me. Mine has a wooden handle and a 3 pronged cultivater on one end of the head and flat mattock on the other end. The head is cast iron so all I have to do is lift it and when I swing it down the weight gives me power.
It would make a great self-defense weapon against a predator, both two or four legged, for us women if we ever needed it,

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 9:08AM
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ApprenticeGardener(7b or 8)

Adding to my previous list:

DeWit trowel--finally broke enough cheapo tools to warrant dropping a "Jackson" on one good one.

"Japanese" hand weeder--can't translate the brand, but it has an 8" handle and a curved and sharpened blade with "teeth" machined half-way through on the cutting edge. Extremely sharp, light, and tough. Takes some practice to get used to its cutting characteristics, but clears small to medium size areas quickly and cleanly.

Craftsman solid blade gas powered trimmer--gave up on string trimmers and got a Craftsman (yes, Craftsman) gas 4-cycle trimmer power unit and accessory trimmer unit. The straight shaft of the accessory unit means I don't have to bend over. It has operated flawlessly, has started every time, and is well balanced. I'm careful about the fuel I use in it (93 octane with an additive to reduce moisture development) and I don't attempt to use it on heavy brush or sapplings.

Best Wishes--Carl

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 4:07PM
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