Best Hand Tools
Hand rake: For picking up piles of leaves and garden trash and gently removing debris from under and around plants without damaging roots or crowns. Choose one in bright colors to help you keep it in sight as you work. Lee Valley Tools (similar to what's shown bottom left), $22, amazon.com.
Water breaker: For gently irrigating new plantings or soaking established ones. Dramm Handi-Wand (similar to what's shown bottom right), $18, amazon.com.
Japanese gardener's knife (or hori-hori): This favorite of many professionals does five jobs well. Use it instead of a trowel for digging, planting bulbs, and weeding. The saw blade cuts roots and divides small perennials. The pointed end is a crevice tool. Lee Valley Tools (second from bottom, right), $27.50, leevalley.com.
Shears: For trimming grass around tree trunks and shrubs; edging beds and paths; and cutting back ornamental grasses and clumps of perennials. Fiskars Softtouch Shears (second from top, right), $18, amazon.com.
Scissors: For deadheading (removing dead flowers); cutting soft-stemmed plants, such as herbs; pruning small or delicate plants; snipping twine; and thinning perennials. For ease of use, look for one with a spring action. Fiskars Multi-Snip Snip (second from top, left), $13, amazon.com.
Hand pruner: For cutting branches less than ¾-inch thick; cutting back clumps of perennials; cutting larger flowers; and scoring and slicing root balls before planting. A.M. Leonard Felco Traditional Pruner (third from top, with red handles), $33, amleo.com.
Hand weeder: The thin, sharp blade removes shallow-rooted weeds; the long handle lets you reach far into beds. Grampa's Weeder (similar to what's shown above), $25, gemplers.com.