Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Favorite Garden Tools, Part 1

Nothing will say "I love you and appreciate you" this holiday season more than a well-made garden tool. The heft of King of Spades 16” round blade spade or even a 17 lb. pencil point San Angelo bar can communicate the strength and endurance of your love and appreciation to that gardener in your life.

I've been threatening to write a post on my favorite garden tools for a while now. Actually, I guess I have been threatening to write anything for a while. Maybe because it is the gift giving season, or maybe it is because I no longer need for these tools now that it is winter. In any case, I thought I'd write about some tools I like to use. * In the spirit of full disclosure, I have not been paid or received any compensation for the following reviews. However I would really appreciate any endorsements or compensation from these fine companies!

Here are some of my favorite garden tools:

AM Leonard soil knife, my favorite all around garden tool. This is the tool I reach for most often. I use it for transplanting, weeding, and any relatively small digging job. It is very well constructed and stout. You won’t bend or break this- it will last a lifetime. It is made with stainless steel and a orange poly something handle, easy to find, and will last forever, no splinters, and does not need any care. I have used a bunch of hori horis (Japanese soil knife) and other soil knives and this is my favorite. This knife has been redesigned and it is much better than the same model I currently have. The serrations are deeper and sharper, and it even has a twine cutting notch (pretty useful). Mine are several years old and probably have decades more use in them. A close runner up is the Lesche soil knife , it looks really cool and tough with the much more aggressive serrated edge and the hand guard. I have both and I like them. They are both made in the USA, which I also appreciate.

Diggit 2 weeding tool. This tool is nearly indestructible (and comes with a lifetime warranty) , with a bright yellow vinyl handle. It is really narrow to cut through compacted soil to get the deep roots of dandelions and other plants. It is so string and stout, that I use mine to pry up or reset concrete or urbanite pavers. For weeding in a small space it is my favorite, plus it is made in the USA.

Felco #2 pruning shears. I wrote a post about these a while back. A fantastic tool- there is a reason everyone likes these.

17# pencil point San Angelo bar (hard to take a picture of it, but it looks like a bar). Here is my shout out to Texas. The one I have been using for years was a wedding present (no lie, my wife and I registered for it). Around here digging holes does not require a shovel, but rather a digging bar and your hands. My favorite tool for the job is a 72”, hexagonal-shafted, chisel point on one end, pencil point on the other end, carbon steel digging bar. A friend of mine recently dug all the holes for a fence with a screw driver and a coffee can. The coffee can was for the soil. It can be really rocky here.

Drain spades- for general digging and transplanting I use one of these (the green handled one in the picture at the top of the post, and most of mine have been bent from using them as a pry bar or something), but they are light weight and good for general use. But when the digging gets tough, the one to use is this one: The King of Spades 16” rounded blade digging spade. This is a real piece of machinery. Heavy, sharp, unbend-able, with and removable and replaceable foot pad. Although not advertised as a pry bar, you can use it for one, and I have (made in the USA).


  1. Well, that makes two things with us common.. My favorite gardening tool is the Leo Soil Knife and I love Gardening as well! It comes in handy all the time.

  2. Nice guide! thank you!/I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.

    Garden Tools

  3. The A.M. Leonard soil knife if made in Italy.

  4. Just so you know we make several other excellent tools including a soil knife and a stainless steel crack weeding tool. All made in Seattle Wa.