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Unusual Garden Gear (That You Didn't Know You Needed)

Updated on June 23, 2010

Yes, you need pruning shears, and a hoe, and some gardeners like to have machines to till for you.  Here are several tools that you may not have considered essential, but which make gardening much easier and fun for me.

Safety glasses

I have asked my husband to help me remember that if I so much as say the word “Wisteria,” he is to remind me to wear my safety glasses.  I have injured my eyes twice trying to cram wisteria trimmings into the green waste bin.  Often, I find myself leaning into a rose bush, wisteria cluster, raspberry stand, or other complex vegetative structure, only to narrowly miss my eyes with a poky stick.  A large pair of sunglasses helps with this.  Better still, a pair of tinted safely glasses.  If you use a string trimmer or blower in your garden, you should have some of these anyway, and should be wearing then when you use these machines 

Knee pads. 

Sure, there are all kinds of little pads and such out there for gardeners, but these are just another object that needs to be moved when you move along.  When you’re crawling along the ground, pulling weeds by hand, you need knee pads, the kind that stay on your knees the whole time.  While you’re getting them, get a good “contractor” pair at the hardware store.  Why not just squat?  Because kneeling is more comfortable over the long haul, and knee pads make kneeling more comfortable.

Sound dock.

We bought a dock for our iPod recently, to take along on a cruise.  We like having our own music in our own space.  It was great for this application, as we had hoped.  What we didn’t imagine, however, was how often we would be carrying it outside at our home, to bring our tunes out to the outdoor dining area, or out to the garden.  If you like your music, then you will love having it with you while you train the tomatoes or trim the vines.  For Mother’s Day, I received four new raised beds, which were lovingly constructed with a Rolling Stones soundtrack.

Holster

Many gardeners will tell you about their pruning shears. I’m a Felco fan myself. At some point, I realized that if I’m walking out into my garden, I should carry my shears, because I may not have a purpose for them in mind, but I will usually see something I want to trim. I went back for them many times before I started simply carrying them with me every time. After I poked holes in the pockets of all of my [already none too flattering] “garden shorts,” I got myself a holster for my shears. Great idea! I just make it a habit to clip it onto my pocket, and stuff a pair of gloves into another pocket before walking outside, and I almost always end up saving myself a trip that way. Once engaged in a pruning task, the holster keeps my shears handy, whatever my posture. Incidentally, keeping the shears in open position in the holster not only makes them ready for a “quick draw,” but also keeps them in place more firmly than closing them does.

Carabineers

These little clips can save you some hassle by holding your keys to your belt loop. Recently, I carefully sorted our sets of keys, identified an example of our house, garden shed, and garage keys, and went down to the hardware store and had three new sets made. I was in a bind, you see, as we had lost both sets of our shed keys. (The shed holds my garden tools, my husband’s wood shop, and several ongoing projects, such as RC airplanes.) Luckily, I had one copy of the shed key left. Predictably, the very next day we found both missing sets of shed keys, and now we had five. We promptly put a couple of our sets on carabineers and decided that they should be clipped to our belts whenever we ventured into the weeds with them.


Drink holder.

Depending on your gardening quaff of choice, this might be an insulated water bottle, thermal coffee mug, or perhaps a foam cylinder in which to put a can or a bottle. These last ones were called “koozies” where I grew up. If you can satisfy your thirst while gardening, you’ll likely stay at it longer and get more done. I have a daydream about owning a greenhouse in which I raise orchids. While I tend my orchids, I sip martinis. Hey, I can dream.

Golf clubs/Frisbees/Sand box

I have an enthusiastic and loud garden partner in my five-year-old son. He sometimes lacks focus, though, and he needs another activity to carry him through a long gardening session. Having some toys available has helped quite a bit when there’s just one more thing I want to get done out there.

Straw bales

These serve two purposes at our house: first, as a climbing structure (see bored child, above) and second, as a source of mulch. Cheap, attractive, and earth friendly.

Bobcat

I’m referring to the small version of a combination payloader, backhoe, and forklift, and I don’t have one, but my friendly neighbor does. We have used this workhorse for hauling soil, rock, and wood. He brought it over to do some smoothing when a topsoil delivery truck tore profound ruts into our driveway. We used it as a mobile raised platform for tree trimming, and we used it to yank a giant wisteria vine out of our walnut tree. Please remember to wear safety glasses. It would be great fun to own one of these.

Other nontraditional garden tools I considered listing were a lawn chair (for the adoring spouse to sit in while keeping you company, and a dump truck.  I don’t have a dump truck, but my brother, who has lots of manure, has just purchased one.  This would come in very handy for larger hauling tasks.  I don’t really need one, but now and then, it would be nice.  

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