Swansons' Staff Favorites: Gardening Tools

We're on the forefront of our planting season and we're eager to get our hands back into the soil. Before we can get our gardens going, we're pulling out our favorite tools. Our tools are our back-saving prized possessions, and we want to tell you about our favorite ones!

The first two tools we list are the most popular among Swansons' staff. Everyone loves them! However, with many different gardening tasks, come many different favorite tools. After our top two choices, we share many of our other go-to tools that make gardening easier! Our thoughts on tools are generally ordered by use for smaller projects to larger ones.

Remember, whatever tools you use, it's essential they're kept clean and dry between uses to avoid spreading any diseases. 


#1 Most Popular: Hori Hori Knife

The Hori Hori Knife is by far the most popular gardening tool we reach for. The question is not what it can do, but what can't it do?

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What we have to say about the Hori Hori knife...

"The Hori Hori is a multi-purpose tool. You can dig holes for small plants, measure depth for bulbs, cut and excavate roots, some have bottle openers. It has a great design, being one piece of steel with a wooden handle." - Bram O.

"The Hori Hori!!! It does almost everything - digs holes for bulbs or plants, saws through roots, and digs up weeds!" - Deb Q.

"The Hori knife truly is all purpose - good for digging in the dirt, root pruning, rough sawing, even a decent soil scoop. Also great for stabbing holes in the side of a bale of compost so you can rip the plastic off like a child on Christmas." - Brent K.

"The best! This is a Japanese-made tool, and is great quality. The Hori Hori can be used for many tasks: weeding, digging a planting hole for small perennials and annuals, and opening bags of compost and soil." - Theresa V.

"Great tool for easy digging-in to root balls and small plants that need to be pulled out. It slides and stabs with it's serrated edges and point - better than a trowel!" - Karin

"The Hori Hori does everything including whacking slugs! I have both the carbon and stainless steel versions and I prefer the stainless for ease of care and sharpness" - Kathy C.

"I do lots of container gardening, and it makes it easy to transfer items, remove plants from pots, and plus - you feel like a ninja with a big knife." - Liane S.

"Great for weeding, cutting small roots, breaking up rootballs when planting, and cutting small branches." - Alex L.

"As far as a multi-use tool goes, the Hori Hori truly delivers the all-around needs of basic gardening. You can measure bulb depth, saw roots, dig small holes, and use it as a garden knife." - Travis M.

"The Hori Hori is definitely my favorite tool for all general weeding and small tasks. It does nearly everything! I use it to dig holes, plant bulbs, plant containers, break up root balls, and do root pruning." - Kathy B.


#2 Most Popular: Felco Pruners

The nursery professional's tool of choice! The Felco pruners are pruners of excellent quality, that stand out due to their replaceable parts, sharp blades, and comfortable use. 

What we have to say about Felco Pruners...

"This is a lifetime tool! Felco pruners have the best (Swiss!) quality. Each part can be replaced, including blades that can be sharpened and replaced. I have owned one pair for over 15 years and they still look like new!" - Theresa V.

"I don't go to the garden without them. I missed them horribly when they were getting sharpened last year. They are easy to take apart for cleaning and oiling, and pretty easy to get back together again. You can buy spare parts, including the blade! I use them for large and small tasks, they are incredibly versatile." -Denise R.

"The Felco 2 is my other favorite tool. Great for pruning trees, shrubs, and small woody perennials." - Alex L.

"Felco pruners! These make clean cups, are easy to sharpen, and have replacement parts!" - Deb Q.

"Felco pruners really are the choice tool for the nursery professional. The Felco 6 pruners are my favorite since they are made to be more comfortable in a smaller hand. I've had my own personal Felco 6 pruners for 30 years because I can replace the blades myself, I love them!" - Kathy B.


Swansons' Favorite Tools for Small-Space Gardening

Needle-Nose Pruners & Dandelion Weeder "I love my small clippers for all kinds of trimming and harvesting in my vegetable and cutting gardens. They make it easier to snip in small spaces without accidentally cutting more than I would like! These are great for deadheading flowers as well. My second favorite tool is the dandelion weeder. This long, thin weeder makes quick work of dandelion taproots but I also love it for weeding small spaces in the rockery." - Aimée D. 

Fiskars Micro Tip Pruning Snips

Needle-Nose Pruners "The narrow blades, both of which cut like scissors, are perfect for anything small or finely textured - perennials, lavender, blueberries, Japanese maples. My favorite brand is the ARS." - Dan G. 

Fiskars Micro Snip "I particularly love the snips for clean up of spent orchid blossoms and precise cuts to dead/dying leaves so the orchids continue to look their best. Also great for spent pitchers and small leaves on carnivorous plants." - Matt B. 

Floral Scissors "These are perfect for all y indoor plant maintenance needs. Whether I want to trim the ends of a Dracaena or deadhead, these work wonderfully for making all my houseplants look perfect. Plus, put them next to some trendy garden décor, and it doubles as fine home décor." - Mollie T. 

Hand Claw

Three-Tine Hand Claw "The simple three-tine hand claw is ideal for surface weeding, digging in loose soil, fitting into small spaces, and it's great for root raking while planting or bonsai." - Bram O. 

Five-Tine Hand Claw "Great for container gardening! It is so useful for raking roots, top-level weeding, and spreading mulch." - Travis M. 

EZ Digger

EZ-Digger “These are great for lots of small projects because of the versatile shape. I use these for planting bulbs, pulling up grass, and planting seeds with the tapered side.” - Erich N.

EZ-Digger "The name says it all. Makes it super easy to claw through roots and dig out stones, good for scooping soil out of a hole while you work. With a little practice you can make nice neat trenches for row planting. Also it looks terrifying, which I appreciate. I like to have one in my hand (appropriately caked with mud and chopped-up bits of vegetation) when people start walking toward my front door with clipboards." - Brent K. 

Nejiri Gama Hoe

Nejiri Gama Hoe "This is a Japanese hoe with a long handle and narrow blade that is longer on one side than on the other. It is so handy for weeding especially!" - Claudia T.

Bachi Gata Japanese Hand Hoe "Excellent, ergonomic hand tool for digging (especially in hard, rocky soil), weeding, and chopping roots where necessary. Much easier on hands than trowel or most weeders." -Dan G. 

Sod Sickle/Saw

Japanese Sod Sickle/Saw "Very sharp! Both sizes are so useful for container gardening, root pruning new plants before planting, as well as cutting into planted containers to remove root-bound plants." - Charlo W. 


Swansons' Favorite Gardening Tools for Lawn & All-Purpose

Dramm 9-Pattern Revolver in Berry "A classic never dies. I enjoy this tool due to nine different spray options. Like 'mist' for carrot seeds and 'soak' for tomato starts. The bright color of the revolver keeps me from losing it if it is left attached to the hose laying in the yard (lazy gardener am I)." - Matt B. 

Kneeler/Bench "My favorite 'tool' is my kneeler/bench because without it, I would be found on my knees in the garden hours after I went out there to kneel down and weed! LOL! I am an 'all fours' weeder and planter, and am not able to get up without the use of that kneeler. It's also a handy bench for low-to-the-ground work." - Claudia T. 

Foam Kneeler

Tool Pouch & Foam Kneeler "Like many gardeners, it's easy to set pruners or tools on the ground, only never to find the tools again. I've lost many pruners that way. My favorite tool is the Corona tool pouch. The pouch slips onto my belt and can hold pruners, foldable hand saws, and tool sharpeners. My tools stay within reach and don't get lost! After a long day of kneeling in dirt, my knees and jeans have seen better days so I often use a foam kneeler. The foam kneeler keeps my jeans clean and my knees happy through hours of weeding and planting bulbs." - Jackie W.

Kneeler "You don't usually think of the kneeler as an essential tool when you are shopping, but it is essential. Gardening can be so hard on your body, that these are great. I'd recommend a bright color so its never lose in the lawn!" - Marina B. 

Manual Water Timers & Quick Disconnect Fittings for Garden Hoses "These are my favorites because they make watering much easier for me, and that makes it much more likely that I will do it! Lack of water is the #1 reason for plant deaths during their first year. The manual timer is spring driven, so it does not need batteries. One simply cranks it to the amount of time you want water to come out of the hose and once the time is up, the flow stops. I use it for my drip systems, soaker hoses, and individual sprinklers. The quick disconnects make it really easy for me to move my main garden hose to each of my different watering zone systems. The two pieces push and lock together and are able to be released by simply pulling back on a ring on the female fitting. I don't know how I functioned before the tiny investment into quick disconnects. Looking back I see my like in two halves. There is the before quick disconnect age, BQDC, and the after quick disconnect age AQDC. I'm much happier now." - Gabriel M. 

Rotating Grass Shears "Rotating grass shears are great for trimming the top and sides of my Vinca when it grows too tall and falls over the path." - Gwen P. 

Spading Fork "My very favorite tool is my trusty spading fork. I use it for weeding, planting, turning the soil, digging holes to insert posts or supports, and many other uses. I prefer the shorter handle because it's easier to handle and lighter weight. The brand doesn't seem to matter so long as it's sturdy." - Denise R. 

Convertible Pruner + Lopper

Convertible Pruner + Lopper "This is my new favorite tool because these are so versatile for pruning. They would work for smaller stems, but whereas most other pruners cut up to 1" diameter branches, these cut up to 1.25". What is unique about these is that the handles fold down to transform your pruners into loppers." - Cecil M. 

Folding Pruning Saw "These are incredibly useful, and my favorite tool! The folding pruning saw is very convenient for pruning my apple tree and Laurel. The blade locks into place, it's lightweight, and great for cutting firewood when I'm hiking." - Aaron V. 

Long-Handled (Wood) Round Point Shovel & Square Point Shovel"When you work with plants, you work with dirt. For many of us, our yards are works-in-progress. My favorite aspect of this is in how nothing is permanent. If I plant a shrub and a year later decide I don't quite like it, I move it. If the shape of a bed or slope of an area feels off, I dig or move dirt around until I like it. The round point shovel seems to be involved in nearly every project I do in my yard and would be the first gardening tool I would recommend for any new gardener. Square point shovels are not as versatile as spades in that they are not good for digging into the ground. It does however, shine when it comes to moving material (holds more per scoop), clearing loose material, scooping (dog bombs), and spreading mulches/soils/gravels. In a way, it is a great overall homeowner tool. If you add a wheelbarrow to your two shovel mix, you can do a ton of things yourself and get plenty of real 'natural' exercise." -Brian D. 

D-Handle Trenching Shovel "The longer, narrower blade than a standard shovel is easier to use in tight spaces." - Kathy C. 

Straight Rake & Shovel "My favorite tools are the straight rake and the shovel. These are seemingly simple tools, yet so amazingly useful in such a universal way. The straight rake to me is really the answer to spills, leveling areas, and some hoeing techniques for the garden. The shovel is great for leveraging rocks, creating hedges, as well as digging holes and the like. Love getting down in the dirt with proper tools!" - Geoffery S. 

Hula Hoe"The Hula-hoe is also known as a stirrup or loop hoe. You likely have a regular hoe in your garden shed to help with spreading and smoothing, but this tool is one to add as it's a time and back saver for pulling up small weeds in their infancy between your bed rows. Instead of crouching around on all fours, you can stand and use this tool of genius while scraping up those pesky weeds. The sharp edge of the loop skims off the top of weeds in a sweeping motion, leaving it's insufficient root system to die off. It's fun name doesn't hurt it's appeal, either." - Shelby T.