Gardening Tool Gift Ideas - U of I Extension

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Gardening Tool Gift Ideas

This article was originally published on November 22, 2017 and expired on December 15, 2017. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.

Are you searching for the “perfect” gift for a gardener in your family? If so, Rhonda Ferree, extension educator in horticulture, gives ideas for tools and gadgets that every gardener needs.

Gardening is therapeutic, but it can also be hard work. Proper tools help get a garden job done safely, efficiently, and maybe even faster. Always choose the right tool for the job.

Shovels are ideal for digging and lifting materials. Rhonda says that her favorite all-purpose shovel is a flat bottom spade with a shorter handle. “It works well for cutting and digging heavy soil, edging landscape beds, and stripping sod.” “I use a round pointed garden shovel for digging.” Garden forks with thick tines are used to turn the soil and break up clods, such as turning the compost pile and digging potatoes. The longer tine pitchfork is useful for moving light, loose material like straw.

Hoes are necessary for weeding and light cultivation. Like shovels, there are many types available. A flat bottom hoe works in most situations. Rhonda uses a file to keep the hoe’s edge sharp so that she can scrape weeds along the top of the soil instead of digging into the ground. This prevents bringing additional weed seeds to the surface to germinate. Other types of hoes include a triangle shaped hoe, warren hoe with a pointed tip, and a scuffle hoe that resembles a horseshoe.

Some people find that a longer handled hoe provides less fatigue and discomfort. A regular length handle forces the gardener to bend toward the ground. Bending can strain your back, shoulders, arms, and neck. A longer handled hoe lets you work with a straight back.

Your gardener should also have proper hand tools. All gardeners need a good pair of hand pruners. Be sure they have a scissor cut that doesn’t smash stems. For larger branches, lopping shears are needed. Even larger branches need a limb saw, or possibly even a pole pruner. Rhonda’s gift list this year includes grass shears and hand hedge shears, which work better for some perennial plant maintenance.

Consider purchasing your gardener a set of various garden gloves. Cloth gloves work best for light chores like planting, potting, and spreading mulch. Leather gloves protect the hands when cutting, digging, raking, shoveling, and operating power equipment. Rubber and PVC-coated gloves work best in muddy situations, or for light weeding. Nitrile and neoprene gloves offer protection when working with pesticides, oils, and fuel.

Most importantly, select the right-sized glove. Measure the flat of your hand around your knuckles (minus the thumb) to determine your size. Ronda’s is seven inches, so she typically wears a small, which covers 6 ½ to 7 ¼ inches.

Finally, include a tool carrier. A canvas tool belt worn around the waist keeps small tools, writing utensils, plant markers, and such at arm's length. 

Happy shopping! Oh, and if you are the gardener, cut out this article and leave it in a prominent spot for your loved one to see and get the hint!

Source: Rhonda J. Ferree, Extension Educator, Horticulture,

Pull date: December 15, 2017