We got back late Monday evening after touring Glacier National Park and Yellowstone. It was a nine-day experience, and of the two, I preferred Glacier National Park hands down. If you haven’t been there, make it a point to see it. What glaciers are left will be gone in about three decades along with all the phenomenal waterfalls that come from them. The views were beyond breathtaking, and I was within a hands reach of a mother and baby mountain goat, and within ten feet of a herd of Bighorn sheep—I have the photos to prove it.
While we were gone, half our yard burned up in the usual summer heat in our clay-based dirt. My grapevine has flourished, a rather hard to find green grape from Germany that is hailed for the Rieslings made from them, and I’ll have quite a crop to turn into wine this year. Last year I ended up with fifty gallons.
All the rest of our fauna gardens blossomed into wild bushes of leaves and flowers and berries. I spent half my week pruning, mowing, picking, watering, weeding, and anything else you can imagine in order to get caught up and straighten things out. In my mind, cultivation, like writing, is an art, and that’s why I practice both. I have found over the years, and I’m betting the same is true of many of you, that in both cases, the quality of your tools chases off many headaches. So here are a couple that you may not have heard of that I have recently put to the test. I purchased the two from Amazon:
The Hoe has worked well beyond my expectations as I found uses for it that had nothing to do with landscaping. Its shape is very versatile, so much so, I used it to navigate our blackberry bushes back by the creek. Normally, I wear a thick glove on one hand and pick with the gloveless one. But this year I was able to reach further in than I would normally be able to and not bleed out from multiple thorn wounds. Poison oak vines wind their way amid that mess; thus, I normally have to cut them off with a set of pruners—but not this year. This year I used the long edges of the landscaping tool which happen to be every bit as sharp as a store sharpened blade. It only took a slight wack and away went the poison oak. I also used it to dig trenches around my rosebushes, so I could put rose food down and cover it up. Usually I do this with my hand because it’s close quarters, but this year I just reached in with the landscaping triangle without having my hands torn up by thorns and easily dug a trench around the base of the rosebush. When I was finished with the food, I just had to reach back in and push the dirt over into the trench—simple.
The only problem I found with it thus far is that the handle is actually quite smooth. If I was barehanded and I was working in the sun, it’s very likely that the handle would slide out of my hand even if I was gripping it tightly. I usually use thermal layer Atlas gloves for any kind of outside work even construction. I like the rubber layer on the fingers and the palms as it helps with grip. My advice for those who don’t like gloves, and thus do not use them, would be to wrap some hockey-stick grip-tape around the lower part of the handle. You shouldn’t have any further problems, and for the record, I’m going to do that anyway myself.
The second tool, Hori Hori, looks like a good-sized knife, and in truth, it is on one side as sharp as the hoe and on the other serrated like a saw blade. You can use it to saw through limbs and the like. The back part of the blade is smooth while the front part concaves enough that you can use it like a trowel. Another nice feature about this tool is that it actually has measurements like a tape measure that tell you how deep in the ground you are going which allows you to plant your bulbs more precisely.
The only problem I have with this is the sheath. Contrary to what they say on the site, it is carried or stored in a thin “black vinyl plastic sheet and belt loop.” Given its size and sharpness, I expected something thicker, and I’ll probably have somebody make me something considerably more durable as they are not kidding about camping applications. It would be a good knife to stroll around in the forest with. Given that, I would put a hole in the bottom of the sheath to slip a thick string through to wrap around my leg and tie off the bottom of the knife.
I don’t normally give five-star-ratings a huge explanation. The reason for that is I’m very picky; I expect high quality in a reasonable price. I’m tired of cheap items designed to break down in short periods of time to maximize profits. But I can tell you in complete honesty these two tools are worth every penny that you’re going to pay, and if for some reason you don’t believe me, hit those links and read the customer reviews. Whether you’re a professional landscaper or just a garden enthusiast, or a casual or serious outdoorsman these two will make your jobs much easier. Who knows what you’ll find them worth using for!