Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Essential Tools in My Rose Garden

There are three main tasks in the rose garden- planting, pruning and weeding. I’ve been doing a lot of that over the past thirty years or so, using a variety of tools and have some ideas on which ones work best.

For planting, I swear by the King of Spades Nursery Spade. It is all steel with a zinc plated rust resistant finish. The blade is 13” long. This spade has a D grip handle and a rubber foot pad that can be mounted on either side of the spade adding more cushion to protect your foot. It takes all the abuse you can give it and is none the worse for wear. I’ve gone through so many “lifetime guaranteed” spades. This spade will outlast me! I like the weight and size. You can order it through A.M. Leonard, (

When I first started pruning roses, I didn’t know the difference between an anvil and a by-pass pruner. In case you didn't know, you never want to use an anvil pruner. It will compress and damage plant tissue. I don’t know why anyone would ever use one. There are so many different brands and styles of by-pass pruner. Like shoes you have to try them on for size. The cheap ones are just that - cheap and not worth using. You can spend way too much money though, on a pair of good pruners. I’ve found the Corona ¾ inch capacity 7 7/8 inch overall length to be the best buy for the money. This brand and style has served me well. You can order it through A.M. Leonard as well, ( I am hoping to try out some of the newer ergonomically designed pruners this summer and will let you know what I think of them.

I spend countless hours on my knees weeding hundreds of feet of rose beds despite my best mulching efforts. I used to swear by the Hori-Hori Knife for weeding. The name means “dig-dig.” This knife was long enough and strong enough to dig out the taproots of dandelions. It came with a leather sheath that fastened to my belt. I wore it every day through the gardening season. One problem was that even when wearing gloves, I’d often develop a blister in the palm of my hand after using it for extended periods of time. This spring, I discovered the Perennial Planter. What a joy. It is hand-made in Holland and the most efficient weeder I’ve ever laid my hands on. Weeding goes so much faster. No blisters in my palms. The long T handle is comfortable and lets me apply greater force using my whole arm. Not only can I easily dig out dandelion roots, but curly dock and burdock come out relatively easily as well! You can order one online at

Recently, I heard about bionic rose gardening gloves. They look interesting. I think I might have to order a pair… By the way, what tools have you found to be essential in your rose garden?


  1. the time it was the spade to be had. I bought one in 1984 or so and have used it since then for most of my gardening work including edging beds and removing weeds. A few weeks ago it fell short, I could not sever the last two taproots of a Burr oak that Der Rosenmeister had given me 5 years ago and I nursed until I had a site. This solid steel nursery spade did the job admirably! Now, do I get this for father's day?

  2. For planting in our rocky soil, I like the serrated edge "super shovel" (carried by gardener's supply). It is also a bit shorter than our spades and fits my height (or lack thereof) better. For weeding, I graduated from a large common screwdriver to a wood handled dandelion weeder with a forked end. However, now that I read your early June tool comment I plan to order the one you mentioned as the blisters are a huge problem this year.

  3. Stepina- Please let me know how you like the perennial planter. I sure don't miss those blisters in the middle of my palm. Happy weeding!