Vintage hand tools are assembled into an artful display on the second floor of this Mexican restaurant near the exposed kitchen. The restaurant's design is a sophisticated nod to the burgeoning farm-to-table movement in Tijuana, Mexico.
An old, sturdy golf bag makes a perfect storage station for gardening tools large and small. Rakes and shovels fit it in the top, and the pockets are perfect for gloves, a bulb planter and other hand tools.
Cutting tools are vital to successful gardening. Start with the dynamic duo of hand pruners or shears and loppers. Hand pruners are the tool of choice for stems up to ¾ inches thick. It’s a go-to tool for deadheading or pruning perennials, trimming new growth on shrubs and snipping thick pepper and squash stems. With hand pruners and loppers, a bypass blade design (blades work like scissors) give you more cuts and versatility in the garden. Also invest in a sharpening tool of some type, along with lessons on use. Clean and sharpen cutting blades regularly to keep them in tiptop shape. Last but not least, pick up a good pair of sturdy scissors (bright handles are preferable—helps in not losing them in the yard). You’ll grab those for snipping twine, herbs, flowers for bouquets, greens and a host of other items.
Hand digging or pulling dandelions is the method to use when your lawn has just a few dandelions or you’re working in planting beds where weedkillers could damage other plants. Weed puller tools like this one take the back-breaking labor out of weeding. Always try to dig dandelions when soil is moist. If you have to, before weeding, water the area where you’ll be working.
Offering versatile storage using a system of sturdy, all-steel organization products, the Gridwall wall storage system allows you to organize and store items like small hand tools, bikes and surf boards. Accessories include baskets, shelves and specialty hooks that securely attach to the steel wall grid.
Digging is at the heart of gardening, and one of the quickest ways to tuck seedlings into soil is with a hand trowel. Look for trowels with an ergonomic design to lessen hand and wrist fatigue. Trowel blades with inch markings take the guesswork out of proper planting depth. Trowels that feature a seamless handle-blade design won’t break or fall apart. Other hand tools worth considering are a short handled pick mattock (for rocky soil); a Korean hand plow (often sold as a ho-mi and one of the most versatile tools ever conceived); and a sturdy weeder (cobra head type works like a gem).
You have several options for getting rid of dandelions permanently. The first is hand pulling or digging. When digging a dandelion, use a special dandelion fork or weeding knife, inserting it into soil along the plant. The taproot typically extends straight down from the tuft of leaves, so aim to place your tool alongside that root. Wiggle the tool a bit to loosen the soil around the taproot, grab all of the leaves in your hand, and pull.
The favorite tools of HGTV's Fixer Upper co-hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines? "I'm a fan of the hand sander," Joanna says. "When a piece is painted, I like to distress it to give it more character." Chip's pick? The chain saw. "It's a powerful tool that gets the job done fast," he says.
The word “heirloom” comes from an old English term meaning “inherited tools” but now refers to anything – including plants – passed along or shared with others. Unlike a hand-me-down tool or even a cherished antique statue, which only one person at a time can possess, heirloom plants can be shared and preserved among countless gardeners, who keep the plants going for future generations to enjoy.
Shovels and spades are essential tools for any kind of garden. They’re handy for planting and moving items like stones and compost. Technically, a shovel is a scoop (center, above), while a spade is used for digging (outer edges, above). As you stock your tool shed, invest in tools with blades that won’t rust (stainless or carbon steel), and look for designs that feature a head and handle socket that’s hand-forged from a single piece of metal. Tool handle material varies. Wood handles absorb more vibration than fiberglass, but choose one that offers a weight you can easily lift and carry. Small spades, like a drain digging spade or this small contractor’s spade (left, above) are handy for digging around established plants, in places where a full-size shovel head won’t fit.
There’s a reason family-friendly restaurants hand out paper and crayons for free: They’re invaluable tools for keeping antsiness at bay. “I always carry crayons and paper in my bag,” says Ilana Wiles, creator of Mommy Shorts. “If you want to be the kind of family that goes out to restaurants, you need to have stuff on hand to keep the kids occupied while they wait for their food.”
Storage Dilemma: Doing laundry feels like a constant chore, made worse because your laundry room lacks storage. Solution: Smart tools like slide-out hampers, hanging rods for air-drying clothes and shelves for supplies take advantage of every inch of space available. This way you can focus on the task at hand, instead of searching for supplies.
A magnetized strip keeps cutting tools close at hand in this functional farmhouse kitchen. Natural plank flooring fits with the home's traditional farmhouse architecture, while soft gray trim gives the space an updated feel. A shiplap hood above the Miele range and simple pulls on the flush-mount cabinets and drawers also complement the farmhouse design.
Consider your own comfort as you garden, and invest a good pair of gloves. Nitrile coated gloves wash and wear well (toss in washer, air dry in a few hours) and come closest to bare-hand gardening. Top-quality nitrile gloves allow you to feel stems in your fingertips. Search to find a brand you love, then buy a few in multiple colors. Leather gloves are a must for cold- or wet-weather gardening, as well as dealing with roses or other thorny plants. Other comfort tools you’ll grab again and again include a broad-brimmed hat to keep you cool, waterproof boots and shoes, and knee or kneeling pads.