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Gardening tool gift ideas

Written by Rhonda Ferree, retired horticulture educator

Are you searching for the "perfect" gift for a gardener in your family? As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, here are some tools and gadgets that every gardener needs.

Gardening is therapeutic, but it can also be hard work. Proper tools help get a garden job done safely, efficiently, and maybe even faster. Always choose the right tool for the job.

Shovels are used for digging and lifting materials. My favorite all-purpose shovel is a flat bottom spade with a shorter handle. It works well for cutting and digging heavy soil, edging landscape beds, and stripping sod. I use a round pointed garden shovel for digging. Garden forks with thick tines are used to turn the soil and break up clods, such as turning the compost pile and digging potatoes. The longer tine pitchfork is useful for moving light, loose material like straw.

Hoes are used for weeding and light cultivation. Like shovels, there are many types available. A flat bottom hoe works in most situations. I use a file to keep the hoe's edge sharp so that I can scrape weeds along the top of the soil instead of digging into the ground. This prevents bringing additional weed seeds to the surface to germinate. Other types of hoes include a triangle shaped hoe, warren hoe with a pointed tip, and a scuffle hoe that resembles a horseshoe.

Some people find that a longer handled hoe provides less fatigue and discomfort. A regular length handle that is 54 to 57 inches long forces you to bend to reach the ground. This strains your back, shoulders, arms, and neck. A longer handled hoe lets you work with a straight back.

Your gardener should also have proper hand tools. All gardeners need a good pair of hand pruners. Be sure they have a scissor cut that doesn't smash stems. For larger branches, a lopping shear is required. Even larger branches need a limb saw, or possibly even a pole pruner. My gift list this year includes grass shears and hand hedge shears, which work better for some perennial plant maintenance.

Consider purchasing your gardener a set of various garden gloves. Cloth gloves work best for light chores like planting, potting, and spreading mulch. Leather gloves protect the hands when cutting, digging, raking, shoveling, and operating power equipment. Rubber and PVC-coated gloves work best in muddy situations, though I also use them for light weeding. Nitrile and neoprene gloves offer protection when working with pesticides, oils, and fuel.

Most importantly, select the right-sized glove. Measure the flat of your hand around your knuckles (minus the thumb) to determine your size. Mine is seven inches, so I typically wear a small, which covers 6 ½ to 7 ¼ inches.

Finally, include a tool carrier. My list this year includes a canvas tool belt that I can wear around my waist to carry small tools, writing utensils, plant markers, and such.

Happy shopping! Oh, and if you are the gardener, cut out this article and leave it in a prominent spot for your loved one to see and get the hint! View my YouTube video on this topic at



As horticulture educator, Rhonda Ferree inspired citizens in local communities to grow their own food and improve their home landscapes. She focused on high quality, impactful programs that taught homeowners how to create energy-efficient landscapes using sustainable practices that increase property values and help the environment.

After 30 years with University of Illinois Extension, Rhonda retired in 2018. She continues to share her passion for horticulture related topics as “Retro Rhonda” on social media.

ILRiverHort is a blog that helps people connect to nature and grow.