Essential Garden Tools for Spring

Fine Gardening – Issue 216
Corona extendable DualLINK bypass loppers

Prune effortlessly with these adjustable loppers

A good pair of loppers can make spring pruning a breeze. However, most loppers seem to make even a strong person feel pathetically weak if the branch is thicker than half an inch. Attempting to cut bigger branches with such inferior loppers, particularly branches in the Goldilocks size of 1 to 2 inches, can be difficult even with all the muscle in the world. The Corona extendable DualLINK bypass loppers allow you to adjust the length of each handle from 29 to 37 inches to gain more leverage from different angles, and the blade-and-hook end is nearly twice as large as those on other loppers I’ve used. I find that I can use these to easily slice through stems up to 2 inches in diameter.


Price: $57


galvanized-steel stake connectors

Assemble plant supports in a snap with steel stake connectors

If you’ve ever tried to assemble a bamboo trellis for your peas or tomatoes, you know how challenging the task can be. In the past I’d cut dozens of strips of twine, which I’d pull from my pockets and then use in an ­attempt to tie the canes together. Inevitably the poles would end up as a pile of sticks before I could recruit some help. I now use these galvanized-steel stake connectors. Not only do they prevent me from having to hand-tie each cane, but their innovative design (which involves simply snapping them on a cane) results in a much stronger structure. Best of all, they are reusable from year to year.


Price: $13 (set of 20)


using the Pullerbear to remove a plant

Uproot unwanted plants painlessly with this tree puller

The Pullerbear is one of those odd but useful tools you never knew you needed. Do you have an infestation of invasive vines or trees that you can’t pull out of the ground? These must be extracted by their roots if you want to get rid of them permanently, and spring is a perfect time to do so before the landscape fills out. The Pullerbear is my go-to tool for removing any unwanted plant with a thick stem. The grip at the bottom of the tool attaches to the base of the stem, and then you push down to use leverage to extract the roots. The Pullerbear comes in seven different sizes that can handle stems from ¾ inch to 3 inches wide. This tool is easy to use and comes from a family-owned company. Plus, it has kind of the best name ever, right?


Price: $75 to $170


C. S. Osborne planting dibble

Use this dibble to plant seedlings with ease

A plant-breeder friend of mine gifted these dibbles to a few of us who volunteered to plant hundreds of seedlings in his fields a few years ago. Sure, we snickered at the funny, weapon-like look, but we quickly learned why the C. S. Osborne planting dibble is the choice of many pros. If you’ve never found a use for a dibble, try planting flats of seedlings without one. It makes that repetitive task much easier. The design of this particular tool (a dibble with a handle) is brilliant, as it reduces blisters. I also use mine for planting water lilies in my pond and injecting aquatic-plant-fertilizer tablets into the pots. Plus, it’s ergonomic, made of rust-free aluminum, and will make you look like a villain in a superhero movie.


Price: $18


leveling rake

Prepare your new beds with a leveling rake

I’m a sucker for obscure tools, often finding new uses for something that professionals might only employ for one specific task. The lawn-leveling rake from Landzie makes flattening areas for planting with fresh soil or loam easy and efficient without having to use a landscape tractor. This tool is lightweight, with five steel bars that are 3 feet wide. With just a few swipes it will create a flat-as-a-pancake surface. It’s also great for spreading sand, soil, or other materials and is essential if you’re seeding a new lawn, planting a wildflower meadow, or preparing a new garden.


Price: $150


Okatsune precision hedge shears

Say goodbye to unsightly leaves with these sharp hedge shears

If you know, you know. And if you don’t, the Okatsune precision hedge shears will change your life. A long-time favorite, these shears are still the preferred tool of professional gardeners, topiary enthusiasts, and, frankly, anyone who appreciates hedges with sharp, clean lines. Made in Japan from quality carbon steel and white oak, this 21-inch-long tool with 7-inch-long blades allows you to make precise cuts with ease. The Okatsune precision hedge shears separate amateurs from the actual pruning ninjas. Keep them well-oiled to avoid rust, and sharpen them using a stone, as you would with your best kitchen knives.


Price: $70

Tested by Matt Mattus, the author of Mastering the Art of Flower Gardening and Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening. Matt, who is also the Northeast regional reporter for, lives and gardens in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Photos: courtesy of Matt Mattus


Find more expert-tested garden tools:

4 Must-Have Tools for Seed Starting

Essential Tools for Pruning

Great Garden Tools for the Season

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