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

  3. 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.