Garden tools 101: Building a Basic Tool Box

February is a great time to purchase any additional tools you may need for the upcoming garden season. If you're feeling fancy, we love this list

If you're looking to build your first garden tool box, we recommend these basics for the beginner. Its not exactly your parent's toolshed, but these tools will tackle the most basic and smaller-scale jobs suited for a novice gardener. You can always look for cheaper options, but be prepared for these to need replacing within a season or two.

1. Start with gloves
   Its great to connect with the earth and feel the dirt between your fingers, but protecting your hands won't only keep them clean but also safe from thorns, irritants and bugs. You'll be a lot more confident and thorough in your work, especially reaching into piles of wet leaves and loosening root balls, if you can't feel the sometimes slimy textures of the garden directly on your skin. We love these gloves because they are fairly priced and allow for a lot more fine-tuned movement than other bulkier gloves. They even work on your touch screen phones! Check the size and be sure to have extras around.

2. Sharp, sturdy hand pruners
   We usually use florist pruners for annuals, grasses and perennials. They are easy to handle, inexpensive and easy to pick up at just about any hardware store. For thicker, woody stems a good pair of Felcos will aways do the trick and with replaceable parts your investment could last a lifetime. 

3. Trowel
    It seems like you could just dig a hole with your new gloves on, but having a sturdy trowel cuts back on so much work. We recommend a broad blade that connects seamlessly to a metal handle sheathed in a rubber, wood or teflon grip. A seamless connection means a sturdier trowel, and more strength cutting through the earth. A depth gage etched into the blade is also very helpful in transplanting and bulb planting. Something like this is perfect!

4. Shovel
    Though this tool is not necessary if you are restricted to window boxes, it is definitely a must if you're planting anything in a gallon pot or bigger. We recommend an ash handle with a rubber or teflon grip. The handle should feel comfortable in your hand and fit your height, or digging will be a lot more work (life hack: digging is a lot of work, its seems like its going to be rewarding but its actually so tiring, so be good to yourself and buy the right shovel for you). As with the trowel, its essential that the handle be securely bolted blade (the digging part of a shovel is called the blade). A sharp steel blade with a slightly pointed tip will help you cut through tough soil. You will see shovels with a flat edge, those are called border shovels, you don't need it right now. We recommend something like this.

5. Folding pruning saw
   A high-quality, foldable pruning saw helps you cut through thicker branches your pruners can't handle (generally anything bigger than 1/2 inch in diameter). Pruning saws are excellent tools for repotting large container plants, cutting through roots to free root-bound trees and shrubs. Be sure to thoroughly clean any dirt and make sure the saw is dry in all the hinges before folding and storing. This is a tool you definitely do not want to leave out in the rain!! We'd recommend this one for the beginner. 

6. Other hardware
  A lot of curating a garden is helping to trellis, stake and train plants to grow a specific way. This list of hardware comes with us on every maintenance and install and will help you Macgyver your way around the unruliest of plants. 
Twine - tie anything to anything
Scissors - heavy duty
Zipties - Use to secure heavy pots, trees and hanging baskets to fences and balconies
Lighter- for quickly disinfecting pruning blades between cuts
Wooden Stakes - assorted widths and heights, great in veggie gardens
Floral wire - fixes everything
Fishing wire or clear picture hanging wire - great for discreet trellising
Insect repellant/sunscreen/bite cream/basic first aid kit

Make sure you take care of your tools and always store them in a clean, dry place.
Remember: Metal tools + lazily leaving them out in the rain = trash
See our previous post for tips on cleaning, sharpening and oiling tools.