Best Tools for the Summer Gardener

By Steven V. Philips –

Just when I think I’m going to cut back on the space my flower and herb gardens take up in my yard and opt for the book/hammock approach to summer, a few more great tools appear thus encouraging my addiction to nurturing growing things. Here are some of my new favorite tools, including an ingeniously brilliant (I say modestly) home-made one that I invented through necessity. Isn’t that always the way.


DSCN0199Floral Snips. Stainless blades mean no rusting so you can leave them out in the garden. Very pointy (technical term) so they can cut off only that one evasive stem you’re after. Light weight, spring open like a gazelle, lock shut, and are really sharp and slim. Plus a snug fitting protective cap to prevent  puncturing your aorta. From Fiskars for about $11 depending on where you shop.


Adjustable Squirter.  A simple little thing that increases the water pressure of your normal outside hose so it’s a faux-mini-pressure washer. The company claim is that it uses 40% less water over an equal time, so it’s twice efficient. OK for light stains, bird poop, leaves and surface stuff. Great for a quick cleaning of your concrete pool deck or wood deck. And you can satisfyingly remove mud wasp nests from far, far away! From Bulls-Eye nozzle. Test your accuracy with this tool for bout $5.


Plastic Tub.  When I was young and innocent, I used a canvas tool carrier because when you’re out there in the untamed wilds, seemingly three miles from tools, you never have what you need. Never. Never. Trouble was that the canvas soaked up moisture, got moldy, collected dirt and leaves. Or worse. And that was just the inside. Tres-gross. Obviously this light durable washable tub resists all that jazz. De-gross for $8 from Ames.


Super Pruner. After using this excellent pruner for a while, let me praise this tool and encourage you to get one. This light-weight loper leverages your already awesome arm power by three times. A weapon good for up to a 1 ½ ” diameter branch. Easy to use, these are “bypass” cutters, rather than “anvil” cutters, so I’ve learned these are best for live, rather than dead, wood. Deadwood is my brother-in-law.  From Fiskars. $23.


Watering Wand. As you kids know, watering only the foliage does zip-zippo for your plants’ thirst but does knock them over. Get to the ground/roots using this eighteen inch long extension of your lovely, but powerful (see above) arm. As a plus. this one wears an adjustable spray head. From Melnor. $23.


Squiggly Hose. This hose is best for use in a compact area such as a deck, thirty-foot long but narrow garden bed, pool area: that sort of space. Note: Crummy if you drag it across too much lawn as it acts as a rake. Don’t leave under pressure (he says!) and hang to keep it from tying itself into knots. From Melnor. It doesn’t have a long life, but it’s handy until it springs multiple leeks. $20.



Plastic Trowel. Yes I’ve mentioned these thirty-one times before. Yes, yet again, again, again I repeat, position these all over your garden and they are there when you need them. Much prefer these no-rust plastic version and go big. Ten for $9 dollars or so. Write if you need long-term financing.


Ghosts in the Trees: This brilliant tool addresses my vexation with swinging tree rodents, disguised in cute squirrel suits. More specifically swinging in my fruit tree. In the park, skipping around with their fluffy adorable tails, they’re fetching. Move that cutie fur-ball to my yard, not so adorable.



Well kids, squirrels will not munch and ruin my harvest this year. I invented a ghost, a non violent solution to keeping varmints out of my trees. Here’s how you can create one too. Take a one-liter soda bottle. (Just do this before you have those three gin-and-tonics.) Go with clear. Strip off the label. Spray the center area white. Next come black spots and finally add (evil) red “eyes”. Sharpie draw in the “nose” and “sneer”. Fill the bottle with shredded paper and soak that paper stuffing with a product called Deer-Off, which repels rodents, etc. as well as deer. Punch many 1/8” holes in the bottle to let the Deer-Off odors waft out. Drill a hole in the cap for the wire hook. Send your mother-in-law up a ladder to hang these ghosts hither and yon inside the tree canopy with a few facing the birds for good measure. So far it’s working. Stand by.


Free from the Ghose inventor.

  • When watering a plant, count-to-ten before you stop. S-o-a-k is the word. You want the water to go down to the roots, not tease the roots up to the surface.
  • When pruning, cut on an angle, not flat across, so the water runs off. And “pruning paint” is truly useless. Ask any tree in Yosemite Park.
  • Here’s to saying it again. When you buy cheap stuff you’ll buy it three times. Cheap rusts. Or cheap breaks. Or gets dull in two weeks. So don’t do it. You know that I am famously wealthy and this is how I got that way. However my good looks are natural.
  • Clean quality tools before you put them away. They’ll last longer.



6 thoughts on “Best Tools for the Summer Gardener”

  1. Well, I have never been a gardener, nor will I ever be, but am def passing on the squirrel trick. They are one smart sucker!!

  2. The squirrel idea is great! You should put it on pinterest!
    So totally agree about buying cheap stuff. you end up spending twice as much.

  3. Fernando Santiago

    I eass the gardener for Mr and Mrs Snikrep. They eass very cheep and dey buy me plastic trowels and plastic tubs and plastic pruners and all the rest of the plastic tools. Mr Snikrep says dat good thing cause dey don’t rust…Beeg deel, dey all break. Dey did get me dose plastic bottles, but not soda…The was tequila boottles all painted up and scare me .As for the squiggle hose…I send you ours. Dam thing get all tangled up all the time and make me crazy.I love your story each month. I don’t know how you make up some great storys

  4. Already went out and bought the watering wand, although I’m just using the watering can on the veggie garden right now.

    I’ve found those plastic trowels are also helpful for cleaning up father in law dog rumblings.

  5. susanc

    Your ability to identify the work of a genius is outstanding.
    Fell free to replicate the squirrel/bird ghost and also carry forth the word to the world.


    ps: it appears that the ghosts in the photo were effective in repelling my free lunch crowd…..

  6. I have seen those squirrel ghosts in action! They are no joke! Also, count to ten when watering plants – good to know. I’ve not been watering my plants enough…

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