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Last Minute Gift Ideas For Gardeners By Jenifer Fishburn

- Looking for a gift for the gardener on your list? A short list of items most gardeners will appreciate might come in handy this holiday season, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.

"There are hundreds of gift ideas for the gardener, and this list will focus on items that are kind to our bodies," said Jennifer Fishburn.

"Many gardeners find that they spend more time outside performing garden chores than they anticipate, often forgetting to protect their skin from the sun's rays," she said. "When possible, gardeners should avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. Sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher is a must-have item for the gardeners toolkit."

Fishburn added that in addition to sunscreen, gardeners should wear clothing with a tight weave or consider clothing containing Sun Protection Factor (SPF) or Ultraviolet Protection Factor (SPF).

"Other items for protecting skin from the sun are a hat and sunglasses," she said. "A wide brim hat with overhangs in the front and back is a great choice for blocking the sun from the face, ears and neck. Consider hats made with natural fibers that are breathable. Some hats also have SPF labeling."

Because many garden chores, such as digging with a trowel or hand weeding, involve kneeling, Fishburn recommends that gardeners use foam kneeling pads at least an inch thick with a washable surface for knee relief. "Kneeling benches with side handles are another alternative," she said. "Many kneeling benches can be flipped over and used as a garden seat.

"Look for benches with sturdy construction. Knee pads found in most home improvement stores can also be used to provide cushion for knees. For better comfort, look for kneepads with gel that are ergonomically designed," she added.

Ergonomically designed tools are also designed to minimize stress and strain on the body. "Gardening can be a strenuous activity resulting in aches and pains. Ergonomic tools are designed for better grip, including features such as large, soft handles, textured handles, or curved handles. Some are also made of lighter-weight materials," Fishburn explained.

Finally, Fishburn said that every gardener needs a good durable set of hand pruners. "A good pair of pruners should fit your hand," she noted. "Look for pruners with replaceable parts. Scissor-type pruners (bypass pruners) are recommended over the anvil type. Anvil pruners (those with a blade on one side and a flat surface on the other) tend to crush the stem rather than provide a sharp cut.

Include a holster with the pruners for easy access, she added.

"A gift from the heart that costs only time is a coupon for weeding, mowing, or raking leaves," Fishburn said.