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The Top 10 Hand Tools Every Gardener Needs

By Trish
January 29, 2016

We put the question to our members: What are your favorite hand tools? They responded with all their favorites, and after combing through all the nominations, we now present the list of the top hand tools from the ATP members!

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Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Jan 29, 2016 4:15 PM CST
It's good to read the report and now we'll all know where to go when we have a problem that requires a good tool. Thanks to Dave, Trish, and all members who contributed to the list.

Amazon now has the Cobrahead in several sizes so check it out if you prefer a long handled weeding tool.
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Jan 29, 2016 5:41 PM CST
It was fun to read everyone's very biased (in a good way) opinions about their favorite tools. Perhaps I'll try a cobrahead since it garnered the #1 position. I've always looked at them in bewilderment.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Jan 29, 2016 6:33 PM CST
My favorites are my circle hoes. I have both the long and short handled ones.

Karen
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Jan 29, 2016 7:39 PM CST
The expandable rake is my second favorite. It can get in tight spaces as well as performing as usual for raking leaves or spreading mulch.
Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
Bee Lover Garden Photography Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Region: United States of America
Region: Indiana Garden Art Annuals Clematis Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 2
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blue23rose
Jan 30, 2016 7:36 AM CST
I had never heard of the Cobrahead weeder before, but with so many folks singing its' praises, I may have to check it out and get one.

Thanks!
Vickie
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Jan 30, 2016 8:15 AM CST
The tiny weeds and moss, growing between these very heavy slabs, are such a nuisance to weed. Thanks to the Cobrahead, it took less than a minute to clear them out.
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Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
Bonehead
Jan 30, 2016 11:07 AM CST
I can see its use for small spaces (I carry a paint scraper thing in my tool bucket for that), but how is it useful for larger areas? It just seems like such a tiny head to me.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Jan 30, 2016 4:45 PM CST
Some liken it to a steel fingernail and it is. I used it to edge a garden when the old rubber (wavy after 20+ years) was removed. The job went so fast. You can use it for breaking up hard soil, cultivating where you want to plant something, even transplanting. As I get out in spring I'm sure I'll find more uses for it. I'm sure it could also scare away annoying neighbors depending on how menacing you can appear!
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
Seed Starter Cut Flowers Composter Keeper of Poultry Keeps Goats Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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abhege
Jan 30, 2016 4:52 PM CST
I love it because it is versatile. Small spaces, digging (lifting) out transplants, scuffle weeding, and don't forget how good it feels to just swing it into the soil and get some of that frustration out!

Use it sideways, skim weeds, makes getting under some weeds a lot easier to lift them out as well as the digging out transplants. After I got mine I just couldn't imagine how I ever lived without it! I have both short and long handled. LOVE THEM!!!
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
Bonehead
Jan 30, 2016 4:53 PM CST
Well, I love to browse the tool section of the feed store, and need dog and bird food so perhaps I'll pick one up and give it a whirl. I tried one of those wing-hoe things for a couple years but never could make sense of that either and finally put it at the end of the driveway with a free sign on it (love doing that). My gardening style seems to be either (a) go big with a shovel or (b) get on my knees and use the fingers. I keep trying to learn how to use tools.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Rosie
HILLSBOROUGH, NC (Zone 7b)
If it sparkles - I'm there!
Region: North Carolina Bookworm
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MISSINGROSIE
Jan 30, 2016 9:23 PM CST
pirl said:The tiny weeds and moss, growing between these very heavy slabs, are such a nuisance to weed. Thanks to the Cobrahead, it took less than a minute to clear them out.
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Wow...I have been hand weeding. Didn't relish the idea of grating on rock with a too big tool. Will it function for flagstone that is not flush to the ground? Yours looks fairly set ..the hoe would have to descend a bit...like 2-3 inches

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Don't squat with yer spurs on!

People try to turn back their "odometers." Not me. I want people to know 'why' I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Jan 30, 2016 9:28 PM CST
I haven't had the chance to use it as you need it to, but 2-3" wouldn't be a problem. I'll give it a try tomorrow and report back.
Name: Rosie
HILLSBOROUGH, NC (Zone 7b)
If it sparkles - I'm there!
Region: North Carolina Bookworm
Image
MISSINGROSIE
Jan 30, 2016 9:35 PM CST
Appreciate that very much!

Those flagstones very thick and I do try to back fill but it either washes or ...well I don't know.
The weeds "appear" to be at surface but in some spots several inches deep to reach the hoeing surface. So I hand weed...but I really hate it.. Snakes have emerged from under a flagstone or two. I don't see how...but they do .. hate to use my hands --even gloved. Amazing, can grow beautiful thick weeds between those stones but not a strong stand of ground cover.
Don't squat with yer spurs on!

People try to turn back their "odometers." Not me. I want people to know 'why' I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved
[Last edited by MISSINGROSIE - Jan 30, 2016 9:36 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1047284 (13)
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Jan 30, 2016 9:54 PM CST
Mine are also very thick but I guess my work at the sides of each stone loosens the soil enough that it creeps back between them. Then come the weeds and I've been on my trusty, old scatter rug for years using knives to get the weeds out but this Cobrahead makes it so easy. No snakes here but nothing like a "Cobra" head to whack down the snakes.
Name: Rosie
HILLSBOROUGH, NC (Zone 7b)
If it sparkles - I'm there!
Region: North Carolina Bookworm
Image
MISSINGROSIE
Jan 30, 2016 10:19 PM CST

I picked up an entire clutch of baby snakes bare handed years ago while picking up leaves from an inside corner against the chimney...I think I got PTSD from it. Now I can't stand sticking my hands into anything densely growing. I did see a black snake emerging from the underside of a flagstone.

Well......at least no "cobras" here!😳😳 at least not the slithery kind. Thank you for giving it a try. Even if not compatible it sounds like a good investment.

Don't squat with yer spurs on!

People try to turn back their "odometers." Not me. I want people to know 'why' I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Jan 31, 2016 8:32 AM CST
You are far braver than I am!
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Jan 31, 2016 8:37 PM CST
Getting the weeds out is fine, even at 3" deep. The only problem I can see is if there's something underneath that can't be seen. Ran into that today with an old pine root but got a saw and removed it.
Name: Rosie
HILLSBOROUGH, NC (Zone 7b)
If it sparkles - I'm there!
Region: North Carolina Bookworm
Image
MISSINGROSIE
Jan 31, 2016 8:50 PM CST
Thanks! Appreciate it!
Don't squat with yer spurs on!

People try to turn back their "odometers." Not me. I want people to know 'why' I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved
Name: Becky (Boo)
Phoenix, AZ 85022
finding joy one day at a time!
Charter ATP Member Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Art Purslane Garden Ideas: Master Level
Region: Southwest Gardening Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: United States of America Birds Hummingbirder Container Gardener
Image
Boopaints
Feb 3, 2016 1:56 AM CST
What a great article... this will help me in years to come! Hurray!
ALL THINGS PLANTS ~ Garden Art ~ Purslane & Portulaca ~
MY CUBITS ~ Trust in the Lord ~
MY WEB SITE ~ Joyful Times Today
Name: Alice
Saint Helena Island, SC (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Garden Photography Container Gardener Butterflies Bromeliad
Birds Ponds Region: South Carolina Tropicals
Image
ardesia
Feb 4, 2016 9:08 AM CST
Rosie, I love the long handled cobrahead just because you never know what is hiding in the mulch. It is more comfortable working it from a distance.
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.

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