Spring is on the horizon, and while there still may be a chill in the air, thankfully, there will soon be sunshine, dew-covered green grass , and warmer days, beckoning the first sightings of spring. While we’re waiting, we can plan ahead by stocking up on the right tools ahead of the planting season. When it comes to nurturing a green thumb, working with the correct tools can help make the job—big or small—easier and help us make the most of the season.
Adam Millhouse of Birmingham, Alabama, a landscape designer and owner of Millhouse Howell Landscape Company , offers his top picks for garden tools and garden gadgets plus tips and tricks of the landscape trade.
Here are our garden gadget picks, according to Millhouse.
FELCO F-2 One-Hand Pruning Shear
Millhouse has had his “Felco #2’s”—as he affectionately calls them—for almost ten years. He keeps the pruners in the driver’s side door of his truck, ready for any pruning job, “prescribed therapy” that is, he says. Made in Switzerland and with a lifetime guarantee, these pruning shears are for professional gardeners and hobbyists alike and are strong enough to tackle heavy-duty pruning jobs. It’s important to keep the pruners sharp before each use and clean after each pruning. If you happen to be pruning diseased plant material, wipe the pruners with a rubbing alcohol solution to prevent any cross-contamination between plants, Millhouse explains.
Price at time of publish: $59
FELCO 912 Leather Holster
If you have shears, then you will want to house them inside the holster when they’re not in use, for safe storage. The cone-like shape of the leather holster holds the Felco 2 shears safely. “Every time I walk a maintenance property, I clip the holster and shears on my belt to access as needed,” he explains.
Price at time of publish: $15
HANDLANDY Rose Pruning Gloves
If you need to do some heavy-duty pruning of bushes and trees, you want to protect your arms and hands from potential thorns and branches. Made with breathable leather, these longer over-the-arm gloves are soft and flexible.
Price at time of publish: $19
Expert Gardener Gardening Basket with Collapsible Handles
While wire-handled vegetable baskets certainly have their nostalgic place in our farmer’s market memories, this gardening basket withstands the test of time with its durability and size. The colander style makes it great for washing vegetables, fruit, or flowers while in the basket. If you need multiple baskets, these are conveniently stackable with collapsible handles.
Price at time of publish: $19
Jackson 6 cu. ft. Heavy Gauge Seamless Steel Wheelbarrow with Steel Handles
If you have a bigger hauling job in your yard or garden, Millhouse recommends the Jackson Steel Wheelbarrow. “Even though it is a sturdy, commercial-grade wheelbarrow, I still use it for personal jobs around my house, and it stands up to the wear and tear of larger loads,” he says. To keep it in good working order, a simple maintenance tip is to periodically check all the bolts and tighten them if needed.
Price at time of publish: $149
Homimp Adjustable 8” Shrub Rake
A smaller-than-average shrub rake is helpful when you are working on a job in a plant bed or in tight spaces between plants. The length of the rake can be adjusted from 34 to 55 inches on this one, which is also especially convenient if you have any younger helping hands who want to get it on the action in your garden or yard space.
Price at time of publish: $20
Bravex Metal Plant Labels
For your herb or vegetable garden, no matter the size, you’ll want to be sure to keep plants organized and identifiable as the growing season takes off. An easy way to do this is to use plant labels with stakes. Just use the enclosed pen to write the plant name, then stake it in the ground right next to the plant.
Price at time of publish: $27
SURE-LOC Straight Blade Nursery Spade with D-Handle
An all-purpose shovel is essential for all gardeners, and this one “goes wherever I go” Millhouse says. It’s versatile and highly durable. “It’s good for planting small plants, scarifying the soil of planting holes, digging out the perimeter of larger holes, and even cutting in sod with the sharp blade,” he says.
Price at time of publish: $130
Husky Folding Lock-Back Utility Knife
A simple, inexpensive utility knife works just as well as any other more expensive one. This one comes with extra blades, so you can quickly change the blades when needed instead of sharpening them. “I try to buy one with a red handle so that if it’s misplaced in the middle of a job, it can be more easily spotted and found,“ says Millhouse.
Price at time of publish: $9
CountyLine Oval Galvanized Stock Tank
A metal trough can have more purposes than just a watering tank for animals. Consider using it as a fun and easy way to start an herb or vegetable garden on a deck or porch, especially if you lack adequate garden or yard space. “Drill holes in the bottom for drainage purposes and fill the bottom half with a layer such as gravel that will allow for adequate drainage, then fill the remaining with potting soil,” Millhouse recommends. Starting small with a galvanized tub is a simple and functional way to begin a simple herb or vegetable garden.
Price at time of publish: $170