Basic and economical tools for the beginning gardener

Last fall, Caryn Cohen decided to get down and dirty. That is when she became a first-time gardener.

Because her hilly backyard was not an option, Cohen rented a plot in the Dunwoody Community Garden at Brook Run. In her family’s four-foot-by-six-foot, raised-bed garden, Cohen planted broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radishes and lettuce.

Cohen was thrilled to discover she had a green thumb.

“We were excited to eat what we grew,” said Cohen, the working mother of a 10-year-old daughter. “And surprised by how much more lettuce we gave away.”

For Cohen, the costs of her first-time garden were dirt cheap. After the initial purchase of wood for her raised bed, organic soil, plus vegetable seeds and seedlings, Cohen’s must-buy list was complete. At the garden, she wore her old waterproof gloves and used the garden’s community wheelbarrow and hand tools.

Whether you are a new or casual gardener, there is no need to blow your budget on lots of gardening gadgets. A few basic tools will help get the job done.

Now is the time to take advantage of midsummer discounts at garden centers. When you are ready to dig in, look for these garden-smart tools and accessories.

Tub time

The super-strong, two-handled Tubtrug is a useful tool for the yard or garden. Use the tubs for mixing, planting, storing garden supplies and carrying water. They easily bend but pop back into their original shape. Ultra-flexible and lightweight, the plastic tubs come in a variety of sizes and fun colors, like pistachio, orange, pink and red. There is also a line of Tubtrugs, made of recycled materials. A four-gallon Tubtrug is $10.95 and an eight-gallon tub is to $13.95 at Farmer D Organics, 2154 Briarcliff Road, Atlanta, 404-325-0128. Or, order Tubtrugs online at

P.S. Families use Tubtrugs to store and carry beach and pool toys. Horse and pony owners use them for all types of chores in the barn. Big dog lovers like the not-so small bowls for food and water. Many swimming pool and horse supply stores also carry Tubtrugs.

Dig it

When it comes to must-have garden tools, a trowel is on the Top-10 list. It can be used for planting seeds, bulbs and other small plants – or digging up weeds. Before you buy a trowel, hold it in your hand and see how it feels. Consider the Fiskars Softouch (CQ) Trowel. It has a polished aluminum head, a sharp blade and a cushioned grip. Available for $4.97 at area Walmart stores.

Blow green

For help with your lawn and fall leaf cleanup, try Lehr’s new Eco Blower. The green and black propane-powered blowervac and mulcher offers a low-emission alternative to gas-powered blowers. The no-choke, easy-start engine can run up to two hours on one screw-in Twist ‘n’ Go propane cylinder. Alas, it may be green, but it still is noisy like all leaf blowers. Available for $249.99 at area Sears stores or check

For thirsty plants

Hand watering is a smart way to make sure newly planted flowers and vegetables get the right amount of water. It also is a handy way to give container plants a much-needed drink. To get the job done, grab a colorful Dramm watering container. Easy to carry, the U.S.-made watering cans are lightweight and durable. Available in two sizes: two or five liters. Made of high-grade molded plastic, a five-liter watering can is $25.95 at Farmer D Organics, 2154 Briarcliff Road, Atlanta, 404-325-0218. Dramm also makes colorful hoses and the Touch ‘N flow Pro Rain wands, which are helpful for watering hanging plants.


Some gardeners work without gloves. Others would not work without them. If you want a soft and flexible glove to protect your hands in the garden, check the hi-tech work gloves for men and women from West County Gardener. The multipurpose glove is machine washable and features an adjustable cuff, stretch mesh back and light padding. It also comes with your choice of subtle or highly visible modern colors, like plum, teal and brick. The company also offers waterproof gloves (great for gutter cleaning and wet garden tasks) and gloves for rose growers. Available for $19.95 and up at area Whole Foods Market stores.

P.S. Many gardeners also like the Mud Glove (

Pot couture

With a variety of colors and shapes, it is tough to choose a container that will complement your porch, patio – and plants. But if you are on the lookout for a contemporary-looking but lightweight planter, consider the popular Madison planters. Designed to mimic concrete, the plastic planters have a neutral base and come in a variety of colors. Sizes vary from 14 to 48 inches. A 14-inch Madison planter is $47.18 at The Madison collection is also available at or