Keep Your Garden Tools Looking Like New

We all have our favorite tools to use in the garden. They are extenstions of us. When we need to dig a whole, we grab a trowel or shovel. When we need to cut a branch we grab our favorite pruners.
When the day is done and your tools are caked in dirt and perhaps a little rusty don’t retire them to the shed just yet. l always make sure my tools ready to go for the next days work.
Here is a quick video tip on how I keep my tools looking like new.
Cleaning garden tools

Garden Tools: What Every Gardener Should Have In Their Tool Shed

IMG_1521Garden tools are essential to making any gardening job easy and in some cases painless.  But what are the best tools to have in your garden shed?  Take some time before you head out to the garden center this weekend to make sure you have all the tools you need to tackle any garden project.  Here are five tools in my garden shed that I cannot live without.

1. A good pair of pruners. Pruners are essential if you want to deadhead or cut back any type of plant material, like perennials and shrubs, etc. Choose a pair that are comfortable to grip, such as a ratchet style, which offer more leverage and ease of use for smaller hands. This will save you from any discomfort and fatigue in your hands, wrist and fingers. If you are looking for pruners that provide a quick and accurate cut comfortably use the traditional bypass pruner. It provides a universal fit and is the most popular for both men and woman. I personally use a bypass pruner and have for the past 20 years. I find it easy to handle most garden pruning tasks.

2. Loppers are another essential tool. Loppers are long-handled pruners and are a must for pruning hard to reach tree branches.

3. Digging Spade, has a flat rectangular narrow head made of stainless steel, with a mid size handle. This type of spade is the perfect tool for edging flower beds, digging in the earth, dividing perennials and shrubs. Its razor semi rounded edge allows you to form clean edges and sharp cuts for the toughest of gardening tasks.

4. Hand trowel is an essential tool for gardening with small annuals in flower beds and container gardening. I prefer to use a trowel with curved stainless steel scoop with a serrated edge, perfect for light weeding as well.

5. Long handled cultivator/hoe. A cultivator is great for weeding in-between annual and perennial beds, but most importantly in the vegetable garden. The long handle is easy on the back for large weeds in hard to reach places.

Don’t forget routine maintenance for your tools.  Mid- winter is the perfect time of year to clean and sharpen your tools.  It is important to oil and sharpen pruner and lopper blades so they are ready to go in the spring.  Shovels and spades should be cleaned with steel wool to remove any rust and hard dirt build up.  A great tip is to keep a bucket of sand and mineral oil in the shed.  When you are finished working in the garden place your tools in the bucket.  With an old rag you can wipe off any excess dirt and grime easily.  This keeps tools looking like new.

Let me know what tools are in your garden shed?

Spring into Gardening with Containers


Container gardening is one of the quickest ways to jump start the growing season.  Once the snow has melted and the northerly winds of winter shift slightly to the south, spring is not far behind. Ahead is the rebirth of all that is green and glorious in the garden. Bulbs are bursting with color and Pansies and Primrose are filling the air with their sweet scent of the season.

Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths and Pansies are not exclusive to the garden flower bed anymore, nor are they the only cool weather annuals available.  This spring try combining flowering bulbs together in pots for instant color.  Or, wow your friends with some unique design know-how by grouping different cool weather annuals, perennial, and edible in containers.

When planting any type of container garden begin with a centerpiece or tallest plant in the arrangement.  Consider perennial Columbine and Hellebore both have delicate flowers and soft color palette.  Another alternative is the little known annual bulb Ranunculus.  This beautiful flower has the look of a cabbage rose and continues to bloom throughout the spring.  The colors range from bright orange, to the softest yellow and the hottest red.

Osteospermum, commonly known as African Daisy is beautiful bloomer during the spring.  These vibrant colored flowers can last through the summer.  The ‘Symphony’ series is a great example. The ‘Lemon Symphony’ variety is a soft pale yellow that is the perfect compliment to any color palette you choose.  If you want to add a little fragrance to the garden add Stock, an annual with medium size flower stalks and a delicious spicy fragrance.  Nemesia, another favorite spring annual, adds a sweet fragrance and delicate texture to any container combination.

Pansies are the perennial favorites with there wide range of colors and faces. Primroses are great for early spring planting.  They tolerate the coolest of temps and can be planted later on in the garden. For a softer texture try a pot of Alyssum, an annual that blooms throughout the early summer.  Alyssum adds brightness with its white color  and sweet fragrance flowing over the container.  Even Petunias, Million Bells and lush green English Ivy can make their seasonal debut in the month of April if we are lucky!

Don’t be afraid to add an edible or two.  Cool season starter vegetables and herbs are available now at your local garden center and ready to plant.  I always add a little red and green lettuce or Swiss Chard to my containers. It adds texture and variety, along with being  delicious to eat!

pansy obliskIf you are looking for architectural interest consider adding an obelisk or trellis to the large pot, or bunches of cut curly willow, pussy willow, or forced Forsythia branches,  these can add new dimension to your display.

Remember spring containers should not remain empty waiting to be filled with summer annuals.  Try some of these new ideas to bring your containers to life this spring season.

April Gardening To Do List

bicolor tulipsApril showers will bring May flowers, but don’t let that stop you from getting out to the garden.

What you need to do this month in your garden.

1) Divide and transplant perennials, like iris, daylilies, shasta daisies and phlox.

2) Fertilize Trees and shrubs.

3) Prepare garden beds for spring planting.  Add compost and begin planting spinach, potatoes, onion sets and other cole crops.

4) Cover and protect tender plantings from frost and freeze with row covers.  

5) Begin in late April to harden off
your vegetable seedlings  to prepare for planting outdoors.

6) Begin feeding and apply a systemic fungicide for roses to control blackspot when roses begin to show leaf growth.

7) Plant pansies and spring container gardens.

8) Prune nonflowering shrubs and lightly shear evergreens.

9) Clean up perennial beds, cut down dead stalks and cut back ornamental grasses before they push growth.

10) Cut back butterfly bush.