December Dreaming About the Yard Tools of Spring

By Steven V. Philips –

Dec-shinkhoseAs a child, of a cloistered life, I was always kept away from tools. Once uncaged, I became a toolaholic, purchasing any and many things to help Mrs. Philips in her yard work. So northern folk in Otis, while your garden lies dead and barren, I’m warning you. All of that stuff is thinking about growing again. For some of us in the South, the beets go on. And even though I’ve plowed (clever garden metaphor) this area before, and quite wittily as you may recall, here are my current favorite tools:


Shrinking Hose by Dap $30. (new and improved version)

Sucker that I am, I bought the TV-flogged-forever-until-you-buy 2012 version hose. Yes it does shrink to almost zero. Won’t scratch your Rolls if you happen to rub the hose against it. Hides easily in the pool box but it’s right there to wash down the pool deck. Drawback? Mine has low flow, so not much scrubbing pressure. And mine ain’t no heirloom to be passed down to future generations. It has plastic fittings and questionable fabric. On the adjoining estate the Madame left her 2012 model outside under the UV of the sun and it soon exploded, injuring several gnats and small butterflies… plus her dignity. I’ve got hopes for this newer version as it seems to correct the hardware deficiencies and flow of the original.


IMG_3775Moving on, you’re going to suspect that Fiskars has flown me first class to Finland to frolic in the fjords by how I’ve blathered/pontificated/kissed-up about their tools. (Pssst, 1: If only and 2: It’s never too late!)


Fiskars (E-x-t-e-n-d-able) lopers $28: Without causing you to gag too much over my enthusiasm, this tool is golly-jinkies fantasmo. First the lever hinge action doubles your already Herculean strength to allow the chopping off of even fat(ter) (2”) branches. Yeah, yeah, I know chopping is why you bought it, but this double-hinge leverages strength without causing a double-hernia. Secondly, a bonus! Those orange flippers that you can see mid-handle let the handles telescope out longer. Gives even more leverage and you can reach in/up/out further. The father (or mother) of your children will be in awe. By-passers will pay to view your work.


Fiskars (Leverage by gears) lopers $18: Same praise, different tool. A smaller (1-1/4′) mouth opening and handles don’t extend. But by using gears, it multiples your efforts thricely, a Princely sum. Great for pruning close-in to more than prune trees. Prune, prunes, get it?


Rubbermaid cart $60 / 4.75 cu ft / (Bigger boy versions up to $300).

Solid whatever plastic. Appears OK to leave outside. Two fat wheels that won’t cut into the lawn/soil. Dumps easily. Washes out quick. Slots for stakes to increase its’ capacity. Tool rack. My only concern was that I owned a similar version that cracked after 6 years of being stored outside.


IMG_5983Tipke Aluminum cart $375 / 5.75 cu ft: This cart was my replacement choice for above. It’s all aluminum, actually made for marine use. Dumps and washes out easily. Weights far less than the Rubbermaid and far more maneuverable. It has 18” chubby pneumatic tires. It folds to take less space in your shed. Mine’s been stored three + years outside with no problems.


Fiskars Watering Can $15. Easily tilted by the moveable mid-point handle. Easily carried too! Offset opening for quick filling. Spout twists for single flow or sprinkle. No rust poly-plastic and UV resistant. 2.6 gallon capacity. The Best. EVER. And I know sprinkling.


Black & Decker / Short shovel $10. Always have had a short shovel for tight work. They have a larger capacity than a trowel. Duh. More length for deeper digging. And more leverage. Bought this one with no wood to rot as I like to hang it outdoors.


Fiskars Plastic trowel $1. Same old advice. Be a big-spender sport and keep these spread there and here in your garden. Good for removing dog gifts or for uprooting deep weeds. Or digging for gold.


  • Though I’m being repetitious here, don’t buy “anvil” cutters. They’re the ones that squeeze what you’re cutting against a flat surface, the opposing blade acting like a guillotine. Buy cutters that by-pass each like a scissors. Ergo!!, each blade is cutting though, versus only one cutting. Case closed.


  • My learned-the-hard-way advice: It’s cheaper to buy a good tool once, than buy cheap twice. Really. And to make your toys last, don’t be a sloth. Clean off the dirt before you hang ’em up. (Mineral spirits remove pitch). Also I do keep a spray can of white lithium grease to fend off premature rusting. Neurotics rule.


  • Two-wheel carts work soooo much better for me than a wheelbarrow, mostly because the wheels are under the load, not ahead of it. Far less effort to push when loaded and dumping is much easier and accurate! I live to dump accurately.


So, to you all –  a tool-full Happy New 2014.


2 thoughts on “December Dreaming About the Yard Tools of Spring”

  1. Mr Phil, how did you know my husband needed help with my Christmas list? I have a pair of anvil cutters that need replacing.
    Great reminders about cleaning those tools! Makes me want to get out and play with the ones I do have while dreaming about the ones I might be getting!

  2. Good info, however, my outside interests include sitting, reading, getting tan. Passing this on to the gardener in the family. Thanks for the tips.

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