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The following article is written by Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteer Madelyn Wilen.
Sometimes it is challenging to come up with a thoughtful gift for a spouse or friend. If a spouse or friend loves gardening, the perfect gift-giving solution may be a tool to make work in the garden more enjoyable. With many options, I have tips to make your decision an easier one.
I am fortunate to have inherited some well-made tools from my family. I have also learned by doing as well as asking advice from independent hardware stores. They taught me and demonstrated the difference in tool quality. Always remember the least expensive tool is not always the most economical.
Tools can be manufactured from numerous types and grades of metal. I like stainless steel because it does not rust, it lasts a lifetime, but it can be the more expensive choice.
Look to see if the tool is tempered (a process of heat treating, which is used to increase the toughness of iron-based alloys) or forged (a manufacturing process involving the shaping of a metal through hammering, pressing, or rolling). Stamped metal tools will not stand up to the same stresses of a forged metal tool.
Tool handles are important. There are many different types of handles. They can be made of wood, metal, or plastic.
Wood handles made from ash wood are a good choice. It’s durable, it absorbs vibration and has a solid feel. A sturdy wooden handle has straight grain. Knots or other imperfections in the wood weaken the handle. Painted tool handles can cover up imperfections so I like natural wood handles. Once I purchase a new garden tool I normally paint my wooden handles a bright color so I can find them easier when I set them down outside.
Holding various garden tools makes it easier to choose the right tool, because I think it is important that the tool has a good secure feel. Match the tool to the person that will be using it. Not everyone has the same size hands or body. Taller people may need to replace a handle if it does not come to their nose especially for rakes, shovels, forks, etc.
If you are still not sure where to start, tools I recommend looking into for gift giving include Korean hoes, loppers, and pruning shears. Korean hoes are a jewel of a tool. It is also called a “hand plow.” Loppers are used to cut branches of bushes or trees two inches or less in diameter. Some are comprised with a ratchet making it easier to grasp and cut the branch.
One more tool to think about may be scissors. A good pair of Fiskars scissors is my next go-to tool after the Korean hoe and hand pruners. I trim all my flowers with these scissors. They can also open cans and the scissors come apart so the blades can be sharpened. Mine came with a good storage case too.
Beyond tools, gloves and hats may be other good gift options. PhD Allen Armitage, a retired professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia, is vehement about wearing a hat when gardening to prevent skin cancer. I heard him speak at a seminar; and when he taught, he told his students, “Any student who comes to an outdoor class without a hat must write an essay on skin cancer.” I automatically collect two items prior to heading outside to my garden: my hat and my garden gloves.
Finally, my last gift idea would be a new watering wand for the 2020 gardening season. My husband and I learned about the Dramm One-Touch wand from our landscape architect in Omaha, Nebraska. This tool comes in many bright colors. The nozzle has an adjustable range from a light sprinkle to a heavy shower. The base of the wand has an easy shut-off valve. It is great for watering hanging baskets or raised-beds. It is a little pricey, but it works great for watering.
We have two of these wands. They have lasted for over 10 years, and they still look brand new.
For garden gift questions or to purchase a Korean hoe or gloves, visit the Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer Association of Caldwell County at the Downtown Lenoir Christmas Tree Festival Saturday, November 23, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Again, gardening tools are the perfect gift for any avid gardener. Good tools really will last a lifetime or more.