National Walking Sprinkler Model B-3

I have used it every summer for 7 years. It has a few signs of weathering (I accidentally left it outside all winter in the snow one year), but it works the same as the day it arrived. I have it hooked up to 125 ft. of hose, and it pulls that entire length with no problem including up a short hill. It has 2 speeds, and puts down about 1″ of water as it travels on the slower speed. It soaks the lawn nicely to encourage deep root growth. It cost me more than double what the Nelson Rain Train costs, but I’ve heard horror stories of the Rain Train stripping the plastic drivetrain in one year. The National Walking Sprinkler shows no signs of slowing down!

Once, the hose got caught on a retaining wall and stalled the sprinkler. Instead of stripping/destroying the drivetrain, it dug 2 trenches under the wheels until the body of the sprinkler bottomed out. It was sitting in place spinning the wheels until I found it and rescued it. My wife was not happy about the muddy ruts in the lawn… I was happy I didn’t wreck my sprinkler!

If something happened or the sprinkler was lost/stolen, I would replace it in a heartbeat.


-- Chris Dykhouse  

National Walking Sprinkler Model B-3
$179 from Lee Valley

Available from Amazon

Rake on Wheels

The Wolf Garden Tools rake scarifier removes moss and thatch from your lawn. The wheels mean the rake maintains the correct penetration. The head swings back and forth to help the rake glide over lawn when pushed, and bite into lawn when pulled. It requires a little strength to rake a lawn effectively – but we all need exercise.

The result obtained by using this tool exceeded my expectations. Within a short space of time, I had raked out quite a lot of moss and thatch. Having one in the tool shed means I can get it out at any time to touch up the lawn. Wolf claim the special hardened blades require no re-sharpening. I have not had it long enough to know if this is true. The handle fits other tools in the Wolf Garden Tools range. The range is extensive and there are plenty of other useful tool heads available. I think it’s brilliant.

-- Alan Readhead  

Wolf Garden Tools Scarifier Rake on Wheels

Requires the Wolf Garten ZMI15 150cm Multi-Change Lightweight Aluminum Handle

Available from Amazon

Husky 3.5 Lb Landscape Axe

The Husky Landscape Axe (a version of a “Pulaski”) is a versatile tool for use in the garden, especially for removing stumps, chopping roots, and to break up compacted soil.

The axe head has two faces, a conventional axe bit with the edge in line with the handle and a smaller mattock-style blade at right angles to the handle. It is mounted on a 34″ fiberglass handle that is sturdy and the assembly is much lighter and easier to handle that the maul I had been using.

The tool can be used to chop thick roots near stumps and roots that interfere with digging holes for planting bushes and small trees. The blades are effective and can be used to loosen soil while digging. Hooking the mattock end under a root or stone and using the tool as a pry bar is also very effective. The mattock is also useful for digging narrow trenches for burying pipe, for example. The more I have it with me, the more uses I find.

-- Mark Barry  

Husky 3.5 Lb Landscape Axe

Ring Weeder

The Ring Weeder is a new gardening tool developed by a 30 year landscaper. I saw it last summer on KickStarter and ordered one immediately. Received it last month and it’s terrific. You start by sliding the Ring Weeder on to your ring (index) finger. Then point with your finger and direct the tip. You can really get under the roots of a weed and then you use your thumb to grab the backside of the weed and out it comes in a pinching motion.

-- Doug Lindal  

[Watch a video of the Ring Weeder.]

Ring Weeder

Dramm’s Breaker Nozzle

I can’t count how many cheap watering implements we’ve gone through since we bought this house fifteen years ago. Big box store watering widgets seem to last just a few weeks before heading to the landfill.

I think I’ve found a solution. During the Garden Blogger’s Fling I attended back in June there was a demo by a Dramm Company representative. What impressed me most at the demo was Dramm’s simplest products, the Heavy-Duty Aluminum Water Breaker Nozzle combined with their Aluminum Shut-Off Valve.

The breaker nozzle provides a gentle shower, much like a Haws Watering Can and would be appropriate to use on seedlings and vegetables. The shut-off valve is extremely durable. Neither item has plastic parts. They are sold separately.

While a lot more expensive than those plastic watering wands at the big box store, I have a feeling that these two high quality Dramm components will last a lot longer.

-- Eric Knutzen  

Dramm 82342 400AL Heavy-Duty Aluminum Water Breaker Nozzle

Dramm 22373 Aluminum Shut-Off Valve

Available from Amazon

Giant Plant-Tray

I have three or four of these incredibly sturdy 17-1/2″ x 25-1/2″ x 3″ deep plastic trays from Lee Valley Tools and could certainly use three or four more. They will hold 24 four-inch pots and can be heaved around and set down with a satisfying thump. Most of the plant trays you come across are thin black plastic that break after only a season or two of use. These trays you can practically stand on, though I wouldn’t recommend such cavalier treatment of a useful thing. They can stand up to freezing cold, and long sun exposure doesn’t do much more than roughen the surface.

Mine mostly live out in the garden shed, where I use them for potting up plants and as trays for seedlings, but they’d be useful for anyone working with beads or small parts that need to be kept corralled. I think they’d be great for messy kid play as well. I’ve run into similar versions of these trays at restaurant supply houses, but the Lee Valley ones are UV stabilized plastic. At $32 each, they’re not cheap, but my ten year-old trays look a bit funky, but work just fine! If you’re going to have something made of plastic, you should at least buy stuff that’s made to last!

My only whinge about these useful trays is that they don’t nest very well. Space is at a premium in my shed, and I simply don’t have room for them. Some day, I’ll get around to building the greenhouse of my dreams, and then I’ll buy a whole fleet of them!

-- Amy Thomson  

Giant Plant Tray

PotLifter Lifting Tool

My wife and I had a very large potted plant on the front porch that we wanted to move indoors. We had resigned ourselves to re-potting it into something smaller that would be light enough that we could lift it over the front door threshold and into a good location in the house. We were at the garden center looking at pots, surprised at what they cost, when I happened upon the PotLifter. If it worked, it would be cheaper and less work than re-potting.

The PotLifter easily strapped around the pot gave us each solid handles that we could grasp without stooping over. Once in place, the straps didn’t slip, and we were not only able to easily move the plant to where we wanted it, but when we decided that we hadn’t chosen the best spot, it was no sweat to move it somewhere else in the house.

The last time we had to move a large pot indoors, I improvised a ramp and we heaved the plant onto a rolling tray and into the house, nearly toppling it over. We left the plant right inside the door because we had barely been able to lift it onto the tray, and were afraid of marring our floors with the rollers. Now that we have PotLifter, we can decide if this pot is in the best place, and if it is not, we will easily move it.


-- Jeff Hoover  

PotLifter 200-Pound Gardening Heavy Lifting Tool

Available from Amazon

Seed spoons

In the course of years of gardening, I have tried a variety of tools to help you plant seeds. Most wound up gathering dust in a drawer. Seed spoons are my go-to device for small garden seed planting (several row feet, or a flat or two at a time).

Basically, it’s a set of two double-ended spoons with a different-sized cup on each end (4 cup sizes in all). As the catalog copy says, you stick the spoon into a pile of seeds and come up with one seed at a time. The narrow-pointed end helps you place it precisely where you want it.

It’s wonderful for planting carrots, or flats of veggie seed. It only takes a minute or two to find the appropriate size spoon for the seed you’re planting. I scoop up a seed, set it where I want it, and push it into the planting medium with the back of the spoon.

I find them especially useful for planting carrot seeds, which is an exercise in anal retentive frustration. A packet of carrot seed goes twice as far and there’s much less thinning needed. There are no special tips to lose, and the one at a time planting method is a huge saving on seed. They pay for themselves in just a few plantings.

-- Amy Thomson  

Seed Spoon, set of 2

Level Legs Wheelbarrow Stand

My property is on a slope, so placing a wheelbarrow on the hill is a risky proposition. It often turns over. Level Legs stops this. I’ve used it for three months. Not only can it keep the wheelbarrow self-leveled on a 20-degree grade, I can also use it to tilt the barrow left or right by dropping one leg eight inches closer to the ground, making it easy to rake or shovel over the side. It’s easy to install — just remove the factory legs, and bolt Level Legs in their place.

-- Bob Ethridge  

[This video on Amazon does a good job of showing how it works. - Mark Frauenfelder]

Prevent wheelbarrows from tipping

Available from Amazon

Vacuum Seeder

I erected a 10×12 greenhouse in my backyard two years ago, with the intent to start all my herbs and vegetables from seed. This year, I expanded into starting all my annual bedding flowers for both summer and winter.

With what is now a year round hobby, I had the need to plant a lot of seeds, very many of which are so small that it’s nearly impossible to both see and pick up just one seed.

I found this compact, reasonably inexpensive, vacuum seeder that does the job perfectly. I start most of my seeds in mini soil blocks (reviewed here on Cool Tools). Because most seeds are dark in color, I empty them into a small, white, plastic tray. Here’s how it works:

1. Squeeze the bulb of the pro-seeder
2. Place the vacuum tip next to a seed.
3. Release the bulb. This creates suction on the seed and holds the seed against the tip of the seeder.
4. Transfer the seed to the starter block by squeezing the bulb.

In a short time, I developed the coordination of squeezing and releasing the bulb perfectly, to plant hundreds of seeds in a very short time. I’ve found nothing on the market that is easier to use, and, for about $20, nothing that compares on price.

I would also like to share a something that I’ve found to work very well for seed starting using the mini-blocks and pro-seeder. The mini-block compresses and forms a square of 20 starter cubes. I occasionally buy sushi at the grocery store. The packaging tray consists of a channeled bottom, and a snap-on clear top. Each tray holds 40 starter cubes. Once the cubes are made and the seeds are planted, mist the blocks with water, snap on the top, and you have the perfect mini-greenhouse for starting seeds. Germination is faster because of the heat and moisture held inside the tray. Even without a greenhouse, these small trays can sit in a sunny window in late winter to give you a head start on your spring planting. The manager at my local grocery store sold them to me for 50 cents each when I asked.


-- Wayne Wittke  


Available from Amazon