The gardener's toolbox

Barb Callaway
Special to Black Mountain News

If you love gardening but are feeling some aches and pains in your hands, back, wrist and joints here are some tools to make your job easier.

Ergonomic tools are designed to prevent injury and strain with cushioning and proper positioning of the wrist and hand. There are many on the market now. My first one 20 years ago was a spade which uses an arm brace to allow use of the muscles of the arm and shoulder instead of the wrist. The closest I could find currently is a group of tools by Peta Ease.

I constantly use my padded, flip able kneeler to save back strain. Kneel on the padded lower level and flip for a seated break. If weeding, I like the straight tool with the little forked end and rocker to pop weeds out without twisting or pinching.

I couldn’t survive without my Ika Hoe from Town Hardware which works for planting, digging, weeding and serves as a small mattock.

My selection of pruning sheers runs deep. My advice is to try before buying. They should feel good in your hands. Some with the swiveling handle are too challenging.  Watch out for sheers that tend to lock after each use. I try to return my pruner to a small waist holster to keep track of it. It is also useful to have a two handed pruner for up to 1 1/2 inches — and a small Japanese pull-type saw.

The repeated motion of the hand pruner has caused pain in my CMC joints at the base of the thumbs. When that joint needs a rest, I try the Sunjoe electric rechargeable pruner for a while. It slows you down which is probably good.

This year I am trying a 2 in 1 Zen Worx which is a 6-inch trimmer/grass cutter. This tool has been great for a quick trim of spirea, azalea, small woodies; switch blades and take down annual grasses. It weighs only 2 pounds including the rechargeable battery.

Also new this year is our portable electric leaf mulcher. I will use my small rake to collect our tough, damp leaves and mulch in place to reapply around plants. Sounds simple — right?? Maybe I’ll also find some of the buried pruners.

A variety of good quality gloves are a must — Vremi combines breathable bamboo and waterproof nitrile palm. Also buy a pair of the gauntlet style if you have roses or other prickly plants.

Keeping tools clean and sharp is essential. I use fine sandpaper after heavy use. Watch for spring/summer events where tool cleaning is offered.

Have fun gardening, and let me know if you want to borrow a tool!

Stop by the Black Mountain Beautification Committee information table during the annual garden sale at the Monte Vista Hotel to ask our members any questions you have about plants, tools or gardening in general. There will be a variety of vendors who will be eager to answers questions 4-8 p.m. May 17 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. May 18. Come browse, learn and shop for beautiful plants to fill your gardens.

Barb Callaway joined Black Mountain Beautification Committee shortly after moving to Black Mountain in 2011. She works on the downtown containers, serves on the seed grant committee and helps with the annual Garden Show. Spare time is spent playing with her four dogs, practicing yoga and working in the garden.