Knives, Trugs, and Gloves: Tools of the Trade

Meredith, a professional gardener at Ladew Topiary Gardens, sporting practical and stylish garden fashion

Visiting gardens around the country is a passion of mine and I always look for the gardeners who maintain these places. Gardening full-time, these garden warriors have tried many things over the years and come up with practical and winning solutions for gardening in comfort.

Womans Work Gloves

Women in particular are inventive and sew up some innovative accessories like the apron above. Meredith, who is a professional gardener at Ladew Topiary Gardens, in Monkton, Maryland, sewed her tough utilitarian apron out of upholstery fabric from an apron pattern that she modified to have deep pockets. How many times are you in the garden and you pick up something and have nowhere to place it? Or maybe to stuff gardeners twine into? Or a nifty pouch to hold your phone?

Soil Knife

A gardener at Chanticleer is using a soil knife like a pick ax to make divots
A gardener at Chanticleer is using a soil knife like a pick ax to make divots

A requirement for every gardener in the field is a utilitarian sharp-pointed soil knife with a cutting serrated edge which Meredith holds in her hand. Replacing the old-fashioned trowel, the soil knife slices through soil and saws right through tough roots.

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Some old-fashioned trowels


Variety of tools includes a soil knife – my indispensable tool

Using a soil knife like a miniature pickax, a gardener can make small divots in the ground to plant plugs or small bulbs quickly. It slices and dices and has become my most useful implement in the tool shed.

Using a soil knife, I can cut through old roots in containers
Using a soil knife, I can cut through old roots in containers

Trugs and Gloves

My friend Gretchen is using an old plant container from a nursery for a trug-sturdy and with handles; her gloves are inexpensive nitrile rubber-coated gloves
Trugs galore
Trugs galore
My set up in a rolling cart; red West County gloves, trug and soil knife
My set up in a rolling cart; red West County gloves, Felcos, trug and soil knife

Why spend a lot on trugs and gloves? There are tons of fancy and expensive gloves specifically made for gardeners. You could drop a lot of cash on these necessities in the garden but there are too many high-priced gloves that don’t last long. I usually won’t spend more than $5 to $8 per pair as I like to rotate what I am using and I go through them fast as the fingers always wear out on my right hand. If I could buy just ‘right hand’ gloves, that would be perfect!

My West County gloves are a couple years old
My West County gloves are a couple years old

Cheap gloves that are coated in the nitrile rubber coating work just fine. I do break down and buy  some very good pairs that I might spend $20 on –  namely ‘West County Gloves’. Using them for cold wet weather, the West County gloves are tough and hold up to lots of abuse. I have had some for several years that are still wearable.

I like utilitarian gloves for a variety of purposes

Washing them is important once in a while but this seems to shorten the life so I try to do it infrequently.

Mesh back gloves are good for hot weather


Handled trugs are essential equipmentl
Handled trugs are essential equipment


High on my list is a good garden hose. I am really tough on my tools and need something nearly indestructible. Dramm makes the ColorStorm series and it is crackless, resistant to kinking and extremely tough. Plus, it comes in an array of colors! I really appreciate when my equipment looks as good as it is useful.

Dramm makes hoses in a rainbow of colors
Dramm makes hoses in a rainbow of colors

The most hated job on my gardening list is wrangling cumbersome hoses that tangle and kink. And I always used to run over my hose end with my car and end up with a flattened fitting. No longer with the Dramm hose –  it won’t crush under the weight of my car. Plus there is a lifetime guarantee. Made in the U.S.A, this is the only hose I use now.

The blue Dramm hose is my favorite


7 Replies to “Knives, Trugs, and Gloves: Tools of the Trade”

  1. Thanks for all the tips. The hose is the hardest to decide on what is good and what is not. Have not seen the Dramm hoses as yet. I was my gloves in a lingerie bag to keep them from getting rough treatment. I need a good place to store my tools but right now they stay in the carport. I use old empty paint buckets to keep in different parts of the yard for collecting weeds. That will start shortly.

  2. We have bought several different hoses. All kink and kink and kink!!! ug!!! I will look for Dramm next time. I use Atlas gloves (inexpensive) and do wash them once in a while in a lingerie bag! Thanks for all the tips on this blog. Good information.

  3. You can also cover the tips of your gloves with duct or gorilla tape. I ALWAYS tear a hole in the right index finger but since I started tipping it with the tape, no holes

  4. What brand of trugs are best? I hate the ones that are more plastic than rubbery, but I cannot remember the name of the good brand.

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