Garden Gear - Garden Tools

How to pick the right garden tools

Judith Adam, Carol-Ann Granatstein and Stephen Westcott-Gratton
Photography by
Roger Yip (inset photos)

Gardening experts reveal what they look for when it comes to the right gear

Select a rake that's in scale with your own height; shorter is better, and the top should be about nose level. Appropriate length is key to moving leaves effectively, and it doesn't matter if the tines are metal or plastic.

Stephen: My favourite rake has a bamboo handle and wooden tines; it has served me reliably for 10 years and was very inexpensive. Rakes with metal tines are usually long-lasting, though they have a tendency to spear the leaves. I don't like rakes with plastic tines, as they break easily.

the-right-tools-pruning-shears.jpgPruning shears
The most important criterion for pruning shears is fit. You should be able to grasp the shears with one hand and operate the open/close function with your thumb.

Stephen: I wouldn't enter the garden without my Swiss-made Felco model #2 pruning shears. Comfortable and easy to use, all parts are replaceable and—with reasonable care—should outlive me.

I use my pruning shears constantly, and this is one category of tool I'm prepared to pay top dollar for. Cheap pruners will hurt your hands and break easily; they can also leave ragged cuts on plant tissue—an open invitation to pests and disease. Look for ones with replaceable parts (especially the blade) and keep them clean and well oiled.

Lopping shears
Loppers are similar to pruning shears, but bigger and more powerful. Make sure the lopper arms are a comfortable length to use. If your arms are short, long handles will feel cumbersome.

Stephen: My loppers have adjustable (or telescopic) metal handles—a useful feature. Avoid ones that are extra heavy at the blade end, as they're difficult to wield accurately. Since most pruning is done in early spring or late fall, buy loppers with rubber grips—they'll keep your fingers warmer!


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