Gail Morrell on Garden Tools at January Meeting

Gail Morrell kicked off MGAWC’s 2016 educational programming with an outstanding talk on garden tools. Gail brought her own collection of tools for show and tell. She also offered suggestions from other professional gardeners.

NOTE:  Neither Gail nor MGAWC are endorsing specific products. Listed suppliers are provided for reference only. Prices are approximates as of late 2015. All figures are in US dollars.

Hand-held Weeder – Gail loves the Gertrude Jekyll two-pronged container/indoor weeder. Weight matters. Lighter weight tools are easier to use for longer periods of time. Shorter prongs are less likely to bend.

  • 4.25 ounce Jekyll weeder $22.50 at (800-267-8767)
  • Soil knife, perhaps a more macho choice, $19 at A. M. Leonard Horticultural Tool & Supply Co., (800-543-8955), weighs more than the Jekyll weeder.

Pruners -- A long-time user of Felco products, #2 classic at $54 or #6 for smaller hands at $57, Gail is now using Okatsune 7 1/8" and 8" hand-held pruners for $55 and $64, all available from A. M. Leonard.

Weed Bucket -- Five-gallon buckets are often available for free. Gail prefers a seven-gallon Tubtrug for $13 from Gardener's Supply Company, (800-876-5520). Because the Tubtrug is more flexible, Gail can use it as a watering can to pour water slower to avoid washing away newly planted items and she can carry loads without banging the bucket into her leg. Tubtrugs come in lots of colors so you can color-code your crew and know who left the bucket behind.

Gloves -- Gail is not much of a glove wearer, but her professional counterparts suggest Atlas Nitrile for $9 at and Mudd gloves for $10 at various stores. The Atlas gloves are thinner than the Mudd gloves.

Gail buys disposable gloves for $20 (400-count pack from Costco). Disposable gloves are especially helpful when dealing with poison ivy. It can't hurt to put a pair of disposable gloves in your back pocket just in case you need them.

Three-prong Cultivator -- $10 at various stores or a hand hoe/handy weeder for $15 from The handy weeder is hand-specific, designed for either right-handed or left-handed use.

Soil Scoop -- $20 from The hand-held Soil Scoop is great for detailed digging, especially working around irrigation systems without cutting lines, or planting annuals.

Pruning Saw -- Corona 7" razor tooth folding saw for $20 or Corona 6 3/4" folding saw for $34, both from Gail buys new saws every year and uses old pruning saws to divide ornamental grasses.

Loppers -- Bahco loppers with 1 1/4" cutting capacity and bumpers for $73 from

Hedge Shears -- Okatsune 7" blade for $110 or Bahco 9 1/2" blade for $84, both from The Okatsune shears cut hedges like butter but the tool lacks bumpers. Depending on how you are pruning hedges, try using them upside down.

Root Knife -- serrated sod knife for $28.50 (or the discontinued serrated root knife with a curved tip, kinda looked like a kitchen knife on steroids) from

For the larger tools, Gail recommends stainless steel for longer use.

Shovel -- Radius-brand ergonomic stainless steel digging spade, 43 1/2", 5 pounds and 4 ounces, for $62.50 at have the circle on the top instead of the traditional handle. It also has a small ledge for your foot to apply more force when digging.

Bed Edger -- Radius-brand ergonomic stainless steel bed edger, 38", 4 pounds, for $54.50 at

Fork -- Throw away forks with broken tines. Try Radius-brand ergonomic stainless steel digging fork, 43", 4 pounds and 13 ounces, for $109 at

Rake -- metal tines with a wood handle for most work, around $18, or plastic teeth with a wood handle for some projects, around $15 at various stores, also adjustable tine rakes and/or hand-held rakes

Watering Can -- galvanized 1.5 gallon, for $29 at Galvanized because the plastic ones break. Gail uses watering cans instead of hoses so she knows how much water she's getting on the plant. She recommends watering cans with the rose (sprinkler end) that screws on and off.

Dust Pan -- A large aluminum dust pan, probably larger that you might use in your kitchen, can be useful for a variety of tasks. Various options at stores including Duke's Hardware or one for $18 from For larger dust pans, check that the material is stiff enough that it does not bend.


  • Most of these tools are sharp and dangerous and--duh--not suitable for use by children or others who require supervision for their own protection. Please take all appropriate precautions.
  • If your tools frequently hide in your garden, you might want to consider painting them a color that will make them easier to find.
  • Don't forget to wear sturdy boots or shoes, insect repellant and sun protection including sun screen and hat.

DISCLAIMER:  Neither Gail nor MGAWC are endorsing specific products. Listed suppliers are provided for reference only.