HELLO, SPRING. I have officially survived my first east coast winter since 2012 and guys, I have to tell you the controversial truth: I did not care for it one bit. If you can truck through freezing temperatures year-after-year, you’re a stronger person than me and you deserve some sort of special commendation.
But the weather has finally started warming up over here, and now I feel like I have a newfound understanding for my mom’s love of gardening. Y’all, Brenda is a PRO when it comes to the outdoors. Sure, our house is filled with plants, but she’s also landscaped the front yard, the back yard, AND she has a plot in a local community garden where she grows fruits and vegetables. (Brenda also sits on the board-equivalent of this community garden and helps them plan events for things like “bee awareness,” which is very cute, but tragically not the point of this post. Onward!) This year, as the temperatures have risen, I’ve found myself accompanying her more and more on her outside adventures.
And as it turns out, she’s right – gardening IS pretty great! The chance to be outside, enjoying the sun, after months of snow? Designing and planting and watching your ideas grow and unfurl in real life? I’M FINALLY SOLD! Now, since I have perennial access to this lady with the greenest of green thumbs, I wanted a second to pick her brain on the must-have tools for any burgeoning gardener. What would I need to get me started? What tools have been most helpful, and what would you recommend to others? Do beautiful, functional tools actually exist? Did she hate all the gardening-related gifts I’ve given her, or have some of them been useful?
So below, you’ll find some field-tested and approved gardening essentials, straight from the yard/garage/basement/general vicinity of the Higgins household. Also included: watering cans that are beautiful enough to keep out on display in your home, gloves that turn your hands into talons, the first-ever EHD endorsement of Crocs, and a garden cart that is PERFECT for pulling double duty at the flea market. Let’s just DIG IN, shall we???
1. Everyday Gardening Gloves: These sell out every year right before Mother’s Day. I know this from experience.
2. Apron & Glove Set: HOW CUTE AND NANCY MEYERS IS THIS??? Click through to get the close up – there’s a super simple yet elevated crossed back. Like, this apron gives me extreme “Diane Keaton taking a lemonade break in a gorgeous kitchen before a mysterious suitor knocks on her door” vibes. LOVE IT.
3. Leather Gardening Gloves: At only $20, these all-leather gloves are a steal.
4. Khaki Garden Apron: If you’re heading outside with a lot of tiny packets or hand tools, this is a great apron choice.
5. Gloves with Claws: I know these look absolutely terrifying, but they’re a dream for tiny projects – you can dig, till, or aerate soil without having to break out any handheld tools.
6. Crocs: A confession: I think Crocs are great and I’m tired of pretending they’re not!!! They’re affordable, sublimely comfy, and super easy to clean (the trifecta for outdoor labor).
7. Rubber Garden Clogs: If style is really important to you, these are classic and similarly durable.
8. Garden Waist Apron: A lifesaver for those folks who seem genetically predisposed to constantly wiping their hands on their pants (i.e. me).
9. Hat: I mean, honestly, any hat works, but there’s something so official about committing to a straw gardening hat. This one has a stretchy inside band inside, so it can stay in place while you’re leaning down.
1. Hori Hori Knife: This is the be-all, end-all tool and my mom’s number one suggestion for new gardeners. If you’re going to invest in one piece, this should be it. A hori hori knife can saw, dig, cut, and more. 10/10, highly recommended.
2. Rubber Mallet: A surprise favorite – use to hammer stakes into the ground or even to like, reattach gutters to your house (just speaking from experience here).
3. Pruners: These are THE MOST beautiful pruners out there.
4. Dutch Hoe: You can weed quickly without breaking your back! These are especially awesome for large raised beds – if you can’t reach with your arms, you can reach with this hoe.
5. Garden Cultivator: This is a surprisingly high-quality piece for the $5 price tag. It’s sturdy and great for mixing in fertilizer or breaking up hard winter soil in preparation for spring planting.
6. Potting Scoop: Potting scoops have big sides to help transport soil from bag to pot. Like, sure, you can grab potting mix with your hands, but this is a lot quicker and cleaner.
7. Steel Bulb Planter: A little niche, but oh my gosh, THIS IS A GAME-CHANGER. Digging perfectly-sized bulb holes with precise depth and accuracy? SIGN ME UP.
8. Ambidextrous Pruning Shears: Okay, these are very ~traditional garden tool~ looking, but they’re great for right- and left-handed folks.
9. Spade Transplanter: Basically, this is a tiny shovel made by a company who’s been manufacturing garden tools since 1780 – you’ll have this forever.
1. Foldable Wheelbarrow: Do not buy a full wheelbarrow when you can have this awesome, compact, transportable version instead!
2. Garden Tool Tote Bag: Haul around a lot of things in an organized way with separate pockets for seeds, tools, and general miscellany.
3. Plant Dolly: I was raised with a DEEP LOVE for plant dollies. Roll your outside plants indoors for the winter! Roll your heavy plants in and out of the light that they love! Balance heavy furniture on top and roll it around so you don’t need to ask anyone for help! Some dollies can be flimsy or garish, so this is a sturdy and unobtrusive option.
4. Garden Bucket Bag: This guy is collapsible, so it’s great for folks with limited garage or storage space.
5. Cart with Tubtrug: I gifted this for Mother’s Day last year and it’s a total winner!!! The cart and tub are awesome for hauling weeds or newly-picked vegetables.
6. Stair-Climbing Rolling Cart: This is my secret weapon. It can climb stairs, which is already incredible, but it’s so multifunctional. Sure, you can use this guy for garden stuff, but it’s also awesome for hauling clothes to the laundromat or for flea market finds.
1. Garden Kneeler: Another Mother’s Day gift win!!! My mom broke her femur a few years back and I worry about her non-stop, so I wanted to grab her something with arm bars to help her get up (despite the fact that she’s like, totally fine, way stronger than me, and was crushing Orange Theory classes with her broken femur). In any case, this is deep and comfortable and it turns out that everyone likes arm bars when given the option!
2. Knee Pads: If you’d rather just wear knee pads instead of hauling around a separate piece of equipment, these are SO. FREAKING. CUSHY.
3. Garden Kneeler with Pouch: In full transparency, I haven’t actually tried this one out…but it does seem to be a more affordable dupe of the one I got my mom and it has a pouch for your tools/seeds, so I figured it was worth passing on.
1. Large Watering Can: My mom has over 40 plants inside her home, so this is the one we use inside. It holds a ton of water – we can get all the plants done with about 3 1/2 trips.
2. Small Watering Can: How tiny and cute, and it comes with a sweet warm wood handle! This would look great in any Scandi/minimalist home.
3. Pastel Glass Watering Can: This watering can comes in pink, yellow, and blue and the shapes are SO COOL AND SPECIAL. I bought the pink for myself 🙂
4. Self-Watering Plant Globe: Procrastinators or frequent forgetters, this is for you!!! Keep those plants alive with a self-watering globe!
6. Glass Watering Can: So fun and graphic and clean, all at once! A few years ago I lamented that I couldn’t find a single watering can that fit the earlier description, and now there are SO MANY GOOD PICKS. We are living in the golden age of plant accessories!
1. Vertical Canvas Organizer: The size of this is so awesome for making use of empty wall space. Bonus: it’d be an awesome choice for wrangling laundry or bathroom bits and bobs!
2. Storage Strap: At $6, this is a GAME CHANGER for cords, hoses, wires of all kinds. Tears will be prevented at Christmas if each of your outdoor extension cords is wrapped in one of these, instead of thrown akimbo on a random decor piece in the garage. (Hanging up holiday lights is VERY STRESSFUL for me, you guys.)
3. Potting Bench: A potting bench with tons of shelving space and additional side hooks and it can work with nearly any decor style.
4. Corner Double Tool Rack: This thing is AWESOME because you can use it in a semi-circle, as shown, but you can also split it in half and shove each portion into a corner of the garage. So, so, so helpful for storing any rakes/shovels/brooms.
5. Wall Organizer and Apron: I love a multifunctional piece!!! Y’all, the bottom part of this is an apron!!! Pack everything up and get organized while it’s still hanging on the wall before removing what you need and heading out to the garden. SO GOOD.
6. Hose Cabinet: Never get your hose tangled again! And when it’s time to get your hose back into the box, this crank is actually not annoying or painful to use.
OH BOY, THAT WAS A LOT. Obviously, you don’t need all of these things to get started – all it takes is some dirt and seeds 🙂 – but if you’re interested in diving deeper into gardening, these are the things that have made it easier, more enjoyable, and more fruitful in our experience.
To that end – what tools do you love? Has anyone started planning their 2021 gardens? Can you name a tool better than a hori hori knife? Is anyone else as excited as I am about the new market proliferation of beautiful watering cans? Can someone prompt me to write more about Brenda’s bee initiatives? LET’S CHAT??? xx