garden tools and equipment

5 Cool Tools to Make Gardening Easier

Your organic garden toolkit isn’t complete until you’ve added these lesser-known essentials.

By Megan O’Neill

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Every gardener worth his or her salt has a stable of essential tools. Spade? Check. Rake? Check. Pruning shears? Check. Clove Oil? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need the stuff (especially if your garden is overrun with poison ivy). While the following five tools—most of which are favorites of the staff at Organic Gardening magazine—might not top your list of basics, they all deserve a place on even the beginning gardener’s belt. Best of all, they’re each especially handy for striving organic gardeners and anyone aiming to keep as many chemicals out of their yard as possible.

# 1: Hula hoe. Also known as a stirrup hoe, this tool makes weeding a little less of a chore. The stirrup-shaped blade swivels back and forth like the hips of a hula dancer (hence the name), slicing weed roots below the soil line. Because it’s a long-handled tool, you can cut out weeds while standing, which is a huge back saver. And the blade oscillates back and forth, so it works both when you pull it toward you and when you push it away, making it easy to maneuver in tight spaces between plants and along the edge of flower beds. When the blade starts to dull, just pop it off and replace it with a new one.

#2: Zip ties. You won’t find these in the gardening section of your hardware store. Instead, they’ll be in the electrical department, as they’re normally used to secure and organize bundles of wiring or cables. The 14-inch plastic cable ties (as they’re also known) are equally suited to constructing tepees, trellises, and other plant support structures. “I always use 14-inch ties; it’s better that they be too long than too short,” says Organic Gardening research editor Pam Ruch, “ you just cut off the ends after tightening.”

# 3: Anti-poison-ivy oil. Pesky poison ivy is so difficult to kill—and such a cause of potential misery—that even hard-core organic gardeners could be tempted to reach for a chemical pesticide when trying to eliminate it. Fortunately, a mix of the right plant oils, such as clove and citrus, can dissolve the chloroplasts in ivy, yellowing and wilting the leaves within minutes. And it won’t introduce unhealthy chemicals into your backyard.

A good commercial version to try is St. Gabriel Organics Poison Ivy Defoliant. Treated leaves are killed within 24 hours without risk of harm to pets, children, beneficial insects or your garden’s ecostystem. Just be careful not to overspray, as the oils will take out any foliage or flowers it comes into contact with, say the editors at Organic Gardening. And remember that the dead poison ivy still contains itch-inducing oil, so wear gloves when you remove the dead plants (bury them or throw them away). Bonus: Your landscape will smell like a French clove cigarette! Order at

# 4: Rittenhouse Electro Weeder. This device uses heat, not chemicals, to kill weeds. Just plug it in, turn it on, then wait three minutes while the ceramic heating stone warms up to 400 degrees F. When you push the hot spike tip into a weed, the heat disrupts the plant’s ability to function and kills it, all the way down to the roots. Not everyone’s budget has room for an electric weed wiper-outer (that’s what the hula hoe is for), but there is something satisfying about sending a persistent weed to its doom with a single touch. Order at

Photo Credit: Rittenhouse,, 1-800-461-1041

# 5: Tubtrugs. Some days it seems like 90 percent of gardening involves hauling stuff around. But no matter the job, there’s a Tubtrug that can help: Throw in your weeds, clippings, leaves, and stones then haul them away; use one to mix soil; place plants inside for repotting; bathe a small dog. You can even wash one out and use it to hold ice and beer at your next backyard party. They’re flexible—both literally and figuratively—so you can grab both handles in one hand for a light load. The brand offers tubs made from recycled materials, and they come in a rainbow of fun colors so you’ll never lose them in your yard. Order at

Photo Credit: Tubtrugs® LLC,, 1-877-TUB-TRUG (882-8784)


Published on: June 5, 2009

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I spend a lot of time in my garden, but the efforts are not in vain, it is the most beautiful garden from my neighborhood. I use some of these tools, the stirrup hoe is an instruments every gardener should have. Recently I bought some Flower Seeds , planted them and now I am waiting to see how they will grow, I am very inpatient with that, it seems that time is passing too slow..

Oh your garden tools

Oh your garden tools are second to your plants. They in fact can become part of the entire design as I like nothing more than seeing my tools hanging in or near my garden.


The Hula Hoe, has always

The Hula Hoe, has always been the ideal choice when it came to gardening, I must say! There are other tools, in which some resembles Hila Hoe and some with additional features with respect to Hula Hoe as well. However, one thing we can see is that the ease which it offers is simply unparalleled! The main feature is that it protects the lower back as we do not need to bend ourselves which thereby ensures our health as well! Plant Containers

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