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Over the Garden Fence

Holiday Gifts for the Gardener in the Family

There are more gardening tools than you can imagine, and once you start looking, it can be hard to choose from all the options out there. There are tools for the vegetable garden, flower beds, trees, shrubs and evergreens. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Pruners: Consider giving the gardener in your life a tool that has several uses, but make sure it fits your gardener’s needs. For example, hand pruners can be used on our ornamentals, in the vegetable garden and for perennial flowers. Generally, bypass pruners can be used on young tender growth through woody stems and branches, while anvil type pruners have limitations as the plant parts become woody. Hand pruners are limited to what you can prune using one hand. Long-handled bypass pruners are the next step up, limited only by cutting head capacity and your own strength. Hand pruners and the smaller long-handled pruners are great additions with newer landscapes and plantings to get any gardener started. If the yard is more established, then larger bigger versions of pruners may be given. Got larger trees to prune? Then consider giving a pole saw or pruner. With a pole saw there is no limitation on branch size (within reason of course), while a pole pruner is again limited by capacity. Other considerations with pruners could be is the gardener left or right handed, can they be sharpened, are there sizes to fit all hands, and are there replacement parts available.

Compost Bin: Perhaps starting a compost pile is in the future, and just piling up the material in the yard is not an option. You can find many kinds of compost bins to keep things looking a lot neater. Some have doors at the base to allow gardeners to remove finished compost, others that you turn to keep the materials mixed and in theory get to a finished product sooner. There are round ones, square ones, ones made out of plastic, ones out of wire and more. A gift card to the local lumber store for making one out of wood along with a design is another possibility.

Rain Barrels: Rain barrels and larger water storage systems also are trending, with all kinds of gardens benefiting apart from the vegetable garden. Recent concerns with pathogens that can make us ill tells us to avoid using rain barrel water on plants we eat, but the serve great purpose for our landscape trees, perennials and plants. Some of these gifts are going to be too big for under the tree so put a picture of the item in a holiday card and hang that from the tree.

Helpful Tools: Garden tools that make it easier on our bodies should also be considered. Kneeling pads help the knees and kneeling stools help us get up and down. Ergonomic cultivation tools use the larger muscles in our arms rather than our hands and wrists. Sun hats shade our eyes from UV rays and keep the sun off our necks avoiding that early spring sunburn. Keeping those garden tools handy also makes the gardening chores go quicker. Consider one of the many “tool bucket helpers” available for that five-gallon bucket you already use, or even a bucket seat for sitting once you get to the garden bed.

Still not sure what to get? One more idea is that of a gift card from your gardener’s favorite garden center for next spring.

About the author: Richard Hentschel’s expertise extends across several subject areas with specialties in lawn care, fruit tree production, woody ornamentals, and home and community gardening. During his 45-year career in horticulture and agriculture, Hentschel became a well-known and respected expert for commercial and homeowner audiences, industry organizations, and media. He retired from University of Illinois Extension in April 2022 with nearly 30 years of service as a Horticulture Specialist and Educator in northern Illinois.