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Some Must-Have Tools

February 12, 2009

Spring is right around the corner, which means it’ll be time for spring cleanups. Over the last year, I’ve invested in a few tools that make the process a lot easier. There are areas where one can save money, but I’m a firm believer that professional tools are important for professional results.

First is my favorite edging shovel ever, the King of Spades. Your reaction may be similar to MJ’s: “Eighty bucks for a shovel? Are you nuts?!” We used them at most of the landscape companies I’ve worked for, and once you’ve used them it’s hard to go back. The handle is lightweight aluminum, but the blade itself is steel. It comes from the factory with a pretty decent edge, but you can really put a great, sharp edge on the blade whenever necessary. In fact, that was part of the days’ procedure during mulching season: while I was loading the trucks with mulch, the junior guys sat at the bench grinders and sharpened all the shovels. The King of Spades cuts a beautifully deep and sharp bed edge; it’s also an excellent tool for digging transplants, dividing tough perennials, and dozens of other landscape tasks.

I also love my soil knife.  Mine’s a little different than the one I linked to, most notably because of the Day-Glo Orange handle (I rely on neon colors to keep my tool replacement costs reasonable). If you’re planting bulbs, annuals, 4″ perennials, or groundcovers- anything too small for a spade- there’s nothing faster. It’s handy for dividing perennials as well.

Wheelbarrows are another worthwhile place to splurge. I bought a cheap one at Lowe’s when we first bought the house. It has a plastic hopper and wood handles, and it is really flimsy. I hate feeling like I’m going to break my tools just by using them. I now buy all-steel wheelbarrows with metal handles. I’m abusing the heck out of my current favorite, and it seems like it’ll last forever. The flat-free tire is the best thing ever, too. You never notice your tire is flat until you go to move a wheelbarrow full to the top with super-loose concrete.

We have a rule at our house: no tool purchases until there’s a valid reason for it. That’s what I love about what I do- there is ALWAYS a valid reason for new tools!

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