Radius PRO Digging Spade: Product Review

I’m usually pretty skeptical about so-called “ergonomic” gardening tools. They’re usually just the same old tool but with a bent handle (which makes it almost impossible to hold the tool comfortably) or some sort of add-on attachment (which promptly falls off or breaks). But when I saw the NRG Pro Digging Tools from Radius Garden Products, I thought I’d give the spade a try. You may have noticed the Radius tools – it’s hard to miss the big “O”-shaped and bright green handles. Radius Garden Products introduced the NRG line of hand tools several years ago but only recently brought out digging and long-handled tools. “NRG” stands for “natural radius grip.” This is the large “O”-shaped handle that allows your wrist to be held in a more natural position while the large muscles of your arms can use their full strength and power for gardening. The large size of the handle, with four times the gripping surface of traditional tools, also means that you’ve got many options for hand positions and you don’t have to squeeze so hard to hold the tool. While I’ll admit that it does look and feel a little odd at first, I noticed after a…

Lifetime Two-Wheeled Wheelbarrow: Product Review

When I first saw the Lifetime Wheelbarrow (a two-wheeled wheelbarrow) I wasn’t convinced that it would be anything special. And the price tag seemed a little high (ranging from $169 to $179, depending on source). After all, you can buy a traditional wheelbarrow at your local hardware store for less than $60. But after using it to move 18 cubic yards of soil, two tons of rocks, and several very large, heavy shrubs, I’m a convert. In fact, I plan to donate my existing wheelbarrow to anyone who’ll take it! So, what’s so good about this wheelbarrow? Let’s start with its construction. I like the fact that the tub is made of 100% post-consumer recycled material yet is strong enough to stand up to having boulders dropped into it from 5’ or higher. The frame and handles are made of powder- coated steel—they’re not likely to break like wooden handles and they won’t splinter. There’s even a rubber grip on the handle ends so you can hold it securely and comfortably. Finally, the tires are large (15.5 inches), easily inflated, and strong (2-ply), with powder-coated steel rims and metal bearings. This wheelbarrow is built to last. After a lot of…

ARS HP-VS8R Pruning Shears Review

I’ve been a fan of Felco pruners for a long time. But lately I’ve become somewhat frustrated with the blade quality (it requires frequent – way too frequent – sharpening) and general “looseness” of the adjustment system (and before you ask, yes, I do know how to tighten and adjust my pruning shears!). So I was intrigued by the HP-VS8R pruning shears from ARS. The HP-VS8R pruners have a rotating handle (similar to the Felco #12 pruners that I had been using) which reduces the effort required to make pruning cuts and relieves stress on the fingers and wrist. If, like me, you do a lot of pruning, a rotating handle is practically a must-have – although it does take a bit of getting used to. ARS also offers the VS9R which at 9″, is a slightly larger version of the 8″ VS8R pruner, similar to the Felco #7. There are a few other things about the ARS V-Series pruners that I especially like. Single-handed “squeeze-to-open” only needs a flick of the thumb Single-handed “Squeeze-Open-Lock System” – Most pruning shears have a locking mechanism that keeps the pruners closed when not in use. For example, Corona pruners have a latch between the two…

Lesche Digging Tool: Product Review

Digging smaller holes with a trowel, especially when you have a lot of them to dig (such as when planting bulbs in fall), can quickly get tiring. But with the Lesche Digging Tool from W.W. Manufacturing Co. Inc.,the job becomes much easier. And it does much more than just dig holes. For years, my go-to multi-purpose gardening tool was a hori hori (Japanese digging knife). But it’s been supplanted by the Lesche Digging Tool. Here’s why … Easy to Hold With a large, comfortable, plastic handle, it’s easy to get a good grip on the Lesche tool. The handle is ribbed so your hand doesn’t slide up and down while you’re digging. And the handle is bright red. That’s perfect for someone like me who’s always forgetting tools out in the garden – it’s easy to find it amidst the greenery. Blade Guard to Protect Your Hand With other digging knives, it’s easy for your hand to slip down onto the blade. With the Lesche Digging Tool, the blade guard prevents that. Plus, it protects your hand from sharp objects in the soil when you’re digging. At first, I thought the blade guard would get in the way or be cumbersome….

Best Hand Pruners / Pruning Shears: Guide & Recommendations

Pruners (also called clippers, pruning shears, or secateurs) are used to trim and shape plants, deadhead, prune out dead or damaged foliage and small branches, and cut back perennials. They’re one of the most-used gardening tools so it’s important to get a pair that works best for you. Pruning shears generally won’t cut through anything that’s over .5 inches in diameter (some will cut up to .75 inch, but that will take a fair bit of grip strength). If you’re cutting something thicker than that, you’ll need a pair of loppers (see our Best Loppers for Pruning review) or a pruning saw. Pruning tools come in a variety of styles and price points and it can be confusing trying to choose the right one. In this article, we review the features to consider when buying pruning shears so that you’ll know what to look for in choosing a quality tool. If you’re just looking for our recommendations on the best pruning shears, skip down to the end for details on dozens of hand pruners and a description of the major brands and models. >> Skip to Recommendations Or, if you’re simply looking for a comparison of a variety of recommended pruning shears (including…

5-in-1 ProPlugger Bulb Planter: Product Review

The ProPlugger XL 5-in-1 long-handled bulb planter was originally designed to remove plugs of sod (from creeping grasses) that could be used to replant bare patches or plug a new lawn. However, it also works very well as a long-handled bulb planter – as well as a weed remover, annual planter, and soil sampler. You’ll find lots of useful information about how to plant and care for bulbs on our Resources pages. Basically, the ProPlugger is a 34-inch long, metal tube with foot pegs welded onto the sides about 6 inches from the bottom, and padded handles sticking out about an inch below the top. The bottom edge is slightly sharpened; you can sharpen it further with a mill file when needed (it’s much easier to use when the edge is sharpened). Weighing in at just under 5 lbs (for the XL model), it’s about a pound heavier than other long-handled bulb planters. The ProPlugger 5-in-1 long-handled bulb planter comes with lots of useful instructions It’s used in much the same way as other bulb planters, other than the fact that the soil plugs are stored inside the tube (which means that it gets a little heavier with each plug) until you turn it upside-down…

Long-Handled Bulb Planter from Joseph Bentley: Product Review

Joseph Bentley is a British company that makes a range of traditional garden tools using primarily hardwoods and stainless steel. Their tools have been available in the UK for over 100 years, but are only now coming to America. We previously reviewed the ProPlugger bulb planter, which we found we useful when planting small to mid-sized bulbs. However, we needed something a little larger for big daffodil bulbs, and the long-handled bulb planter from Joseph Bentley did the trick. Personally, when I have ample space to work with, I prefer to remove a large patch of soil with a sharp spade, place the bulbs, and then settle them in with my Lesche digging tool before simply pushing the soil back over the bulbs. But if you’re working in tight spaces where it’s not feasible to dig out the soil, a bulb planter is a necessity. There are all kinds of bulb planting tools available, but the cylindrical planter (with either a short or a long handle) is the most common. This long-handled model from Joseph Bentley is a pleasure to work with. Lightweight But Heavy Duty Weighing in at less than 5 lbs, it’s light enough to handle with ease over an…

Dramm 18061 ColorPoint Telescoping Lopper: Product Review

Specifications Cutting capacity: 1 ½” Length: handles extend from 24″ to 31″ Blades: heat treated steel, replaceable Dramm makes some nice tools for lighter-duty work, including the ColorPoint Telescoping Lopper. Over several years of heavy use, these have become my favorite loppers for just about all of my pruning needs. Adjustable blades ensure a close, even cut The Dramm lopper has heat treated steel bypass blades that cut branches up to 1 ½” thick. In our tests, we had no problem cutting through 1 ½” deadwood with the handles at full extension.  It took more effort with the handles retracted, but we did manage to cut through 1 ½” branches without damaging the blades or bending the handles. The blades are adjustable; you can change the tension and spacing between blades (to ensure a close, even cut) by turning the “gear” on the face of the non-cutting blade. There’s also a deep sap groove that comes in handy if you’re cutting sticky or sappy trees, like pines or maples. Another nice feature is the availability of replacement blades, although this isn’t something that Dramm mentions on their website or marketing material. Replacement blades can be purchased directly from Dramm by contacting them by phone at 1-800-258-0848 or sending…