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Best Pruners: FELCO 2 One-Hand Pruning Shear
Owners say it’s worth it to spend a little extra on the Felco F-2 Classic Manual Hand Pruner, and many say they’ll never buy another brand when it’s time to tame small trees and shrubs. They sing the praises of this 8 1/2-inch pruner for its ability to slice through branches up to an inch thick without jamming or dulling the blade.
The Felco F-2 has hardened steel blades, a forged aluminum handle and an adjustable alignment. The rubberized handle has shock-absorbing pads to keep work comfortable, and reviewers say it does that effectively. Some recommend other Felco models for smaller hands—particularly the F-6—or those with joint problems, who will appreciate the rotating and ergonomic handles of the F-7 and F-8 pruners. Another favorite feature is a sap groove that helps prevent sticking. The pruner is backed by a lifetime warranty.
Best Garden Knife: Nisaku Hori-Hori Stainless Steel Tomita Weeding Knife
Though there are cheaper garden knives on the market, reviewers say the Nisaku Japanese Hori Hori Digging Tool is worth the slight splurge because of a durable, 6 1/2-inch stainless steel blade that slices through the soil with ease. Experts with Garden Tool Review say it will stand up to any kind of abuse, even getting lost in inclement weather.
Users love the versatility of the Hori Hori, which they say is extraordinarily effective at uprooting even the toughest weeds. Its slightly concave shape also makes it useful for light planting, dividing flowers and transferring small plants, while others even use it as a hunting and fishing aid. Features include a vinyl plastic sheath with a belt loop, a sturdy wooden handle and measurements on the knife itself that help users track soil depth.
Best Trowel: Wilcox All-Pro Heavy-Duty Digging Trowel
The Wilcox Stainless Steel Garden Trowel earns raves from users for being nearly indestructible, even after years of potting, planting, and light digging. Though many gardeners love the versatility of the largest 14-inch trowel, it is also available in nine, 10, and 12 inches for more delicate tasks such as weeding near delicate plants. Each one is backed with a lifetime warranty.
Experts with The Sweethome attribute the Wilcox trowel’s longevity to its single-piece steel construction, which leaves no joints to break or rust. But beyond being durable, it’s also very effective and can even be used in place of a soil knife, while retaining its skill at more digging-intensive jobs. Users agree, saying it’s sharp enough for effective digging. They also like the easy-to-grip handle and convenient leather wrist loop.
Best Shovel: Bully Tools 82515 14-Gauge Round Point Shovel
Buyers insist that the Bully Tools 82515 14-Gauge Round Point Shovel is the last shovel gardeners will ever have to purchase because it’s durable, versatile, and effective enough for nearly all uses. It’s also American-made and backed by a lifetime warranty.
Users say the Bully 82515 stands up to even heavy-duty tasks like moving large boulders, removing stumps and digging deep trenches. The I-beam construction makes it especially sturdy, allowing users to put more pressure on the blade without fear of breakage. The shovel is just over 59 inches long, with a 48 1/2-inch reinforced fiberglass handle.
Best Spade: Fiskars 46-Inch Garden Spade Shovel
A good spade can help gardeners slice through soil and roots better than a shovel because of the flat, straight, slightly sharpened blade, and users say the Fiskars 46-inch Steel D-Handle Square Garden Spade is no exception. Reviewers agree, saying it makes edging and other tasks a breeze.
The Fiskars D-Handle has a 14-gauge hardened steel blade and an 18-gauge steel shaft that users say help it stand up to tough duty, and a powder-coated finish keeps rust at bay. It’s backed by a lifetime warranty. Reviewers say the large handle and teardrop-shape shaft are both easy to grip, but some warn that the handle can eventually come loose because it’s attached with just a single screw.
Best Rain Gauge: Stratus Precision Rain Gauge with Mounting Bracket
The Stratus RG202 Long-Term Professional Rain and Snow Gauge is made to standards specified by the National Weather Service, and owners say that makes for a reliable instrument for both home and professional use. In fact, the gauge is guaranteed accurate to 1/100th of an inch.
Users can measure both rain and snow with the Stratus RG202, which is made of a weather-resistant polycarbonate. Reviewers say it’s easy to get an accurate number with this well-designed gauge, which consists of a 1-inch inner measuring tube and an overflow cylinder that allows collection of up to 11 inches of rain. The gauge is roughly 5 by 5 by 14 inches and comes with a bracket that allows easy attachment and removal for users who install it on a post.
Best Garden Rake: Razorback Fiberglass Handle Steel Rake
If you live in a woodsy area, a high-quality garden rake is a must-have in your tool shed. The Razor-Back 24-Tine Steel Rake may not look all that special, but it’s designed for comfort and performance, and reviewers can’t say enough good things about it!
The Razor-Back Rake can be used to clean up leaves in the fall or to remove debris from your yard or garden. It boasts 24 steel tines connected to a special head that’s designed to keep the tines from coming loose. The rake’s flexible coil spring enables a smooth raking action, so you won’t be struggling as you clean up your yard, and the 9" cushioned grip will ensure your hands don’t cramp up. The Razor-Back Rake’s handle is 51" long, and it’s made of fiberglass, which is stronger than a standard wooden handle.
If the impressive specs and reasonable price don’t convince you to buy this tool, just take a look at the rake’s glowing reviews. Users say the Razor-Back 24-Tine Steel Rake is more efficient and easy to use than similar products, and more than 95% of users recommend the product.
Best Gardening Gloves: Magid Glove & Safety BE337T Bella Men's Comfort Flex Coated Garden Glove
Made with comfort flex technology and breathable nylon, The Handmaster Bella Comfort Flex garden gloves are a great pick for all of your gardening needs. The glove's water-resistant nylon helps keep hands dry during messy gardening tasks, while the double-coated nitrile palms give you extra durability and grip.
Their stylish yet comfortable design also features a knitted wrist, which helps prevent dirt from collecting inside the cuff of the gloves. They are also available in three different size options to help you find the perfect fit. At 1.92 ounces, these gloves are a great lightweight option to add to your tool shed.
We bought three top-rated gardening tools that our reviewer tested for 25 hours. We asked our tester to consider the most important features when using these tools, from the quality of material to their effectiveness. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
Material Plastic is lightweight and easy to clean but can break under stress. Metal lasts a long time but can rust without proper care. Metal tools also often have wooden handles that are attractive but can dry out over time.
Grip Comfort If holding onto a tool isn’t comfortable, then you won’t be using it for long. Some handles are cushioned to provide more comfort and minimize blistering.
Effectiveness For shovels and trowels, look for a sharp edge and consider how the handle is attached to the head. If the shovel has a metal sleeve that wraps around the handle, make sure it’s reinforced with a screw or rivet.