Gray days, frigid temperatures, rain and snow have me longing for spring. I am anxious for the end of this nasty weather so I can get my yard and garden ready for growing. Pruning, cutting and digging tools are essential to my anticipated cleanup chores.
Oh to be young again. My back, hands and arms lack the strength of younger years, so I tend to favor tools that make gardening easier for me. When it comes to pruning, I depend on ratchet pruners. My trusty hand pruners are a pair of Florian 701 ratchet pruners. Florian touts that their ratchet mechanism multiplies your hand strength up to 700 percent.
I cut out the dead stems of flowering perennials left in the garden, pruning flowering shrubs and trimming flowers. Keep in mind that these light-weight pruners are not meant to tackle the bigger, woodier stems of trees and shrubs. They will only cut wood stems up to 3/4-inch in diameter. The blades have a nonstick coating, and the handles are made of fiberglass reinforced plastic.
I keep thinking about getting another pair, but these are still going strong after 10 years. Plus, the bright yellow handles make them easy to find wherever I lay them down in the garden. Order them at at floriantools.net.
Of course, I occasionally need to cut large stems and branches. When you have small branches that are too big for hand pruners, loppers are the next step. I have a pair of heavy-duty bypass loppers, but they have become harder for me to use effectively. That is why I bought a pair of Ironwood Tools ratchet loppers two years ago at a trade show. This past fall, when I had to cut some tree branches, I could not believe how easy these ratchet loppers made the job for me.
The Ironwood Tools ratchet loppers have a gear action that allows you to cut through wood up to 1.5 inches in diameter. With handles that are made of strong aluminum, they weigh only two pounds. The blade is made of tempered steel, and all the parts are replaceable and have a lifetime replacement guarantee.
Ironwood also offers a telescoping ratchet lopper with extendable handles that go from 19 to 32 inches in length. These heavy-duty loppers can handle branches up to 2.5 inches and have the same guarantee. Ironwood Tools are available at ironwoodtools.com.
I have to admit that when it comes to digging in the garden, I have never been effective at the task. I always thought it was me, but now I am wondering if it was the shovels I was using. I am considering buying a HERShovel from Green Heron Tools.
The HERShovel is a hybrid between a shovel and a spade that has been designed based on women’s bodies and digging styles. (Who knew women dig differently than men?) Green Heron notes that this shovel is designed specifically for women from the “shape and diameter of the handle, to the three shaft lengths (based on the individual woman’s height), to the angle and enlarged step on the blade. It is designed for “maximum comfort and ease of use.”
I think I would need the shortest one designed for women like me who are less than 5 feet, 2 inches tall. Green Heron also offers a HERSpadingfork. They are available at greenheron.com.
Old or young, it makes sense to buy tools that make gardening easier.
Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.