Untangle from shed. Fill with gas. Pull cord. Pull cord again. Then again. Swear loudly. Throw away. Buy another. Repeat.
This is the familiar pattern repeated every weekend with millions of cheaply-made plastic, fuel-powered lawn and garden tools. As the saying goes "they don't make 'em like they used to." Recently I've been on a quest to find high-quality, hand-crafted garden tools that require no fossil fuels and will last a lifetime . . . maybe several lifetimes.
Before cheap foreign labor, cheap tanker shipping, cheap plastic, and cheap fuel, tools were made with care and craftsmanship. They were as well cared for by the gardeners as the heirloom roses that they tended. They were powered by healthy calories, not smelly petroleum. Most importantly, they were infinitely repairable and more cost effective. A broken handle meant you needed a new handle, not a completely new tool.
The good news is that there is a revival of old school craftsmanship for garden tools. In fact, there are some tool companies that have been making the same premium tools for over a century.
And yes, as you'd expect, the price for better tools is more than what you'll pay in the big box stores for the disposable crap. But the cost is ultimately going to be less. These tools are more durable and they're better quality. They can be sharpened, oiled, and maintained in like-new condition for decades. Simply put, these are the last tools you (and maybe your grandkids) will ever need to buy.
Here are some of the best heirloom lawn and garden tools:
Photo credit of Fisher Blacksmithing
1. Pointed hoe - from Fisher Blacksmithing. This hand-forged hoe is really versatile. You can dig, whack, scrape, weed, or hoe for seeding.
Photo credit of DeWit Garden Tools
2. Grass sickle - from DeWit Garden Tools. This tool is for anyone who's ever had to remove thick grass or weeds from the garden. A few swift whacks with this will clear weeds in less time that it will take you to replace the plastic cord in your weed whacker.
Photo credit of Dewit Garden Tools
3. Edging knife - from DeWit Garden Tools. Best tool ever for cleaning up the grass edge next to the driveway, sidewalk, path, or garden. Simply line up and step on the edge. The knife slides into the soil and gives a gorgeous, clean edge. Your neighbors will be happy too when they are spared the whirring and buzzing of your gas-powered edger.
Photo credit of Joseph Bentley
4. Lawn edging shear - from Joseph Bentley. This is my new favorite tool. It's basically a grab-and-go pair of shears designed to trim that pesky edge of grass along your garden beds or walks.
Photo credit of Red Pig Tools
5. Trowel - from Red Pig Tools. What more can I say. Every gardener needs a good trowel. Why not get the best?
Photo credit of Red Pig Tools
6. Root Saw - from Red Pig Tools. This made in the USA, hand-forged root saw is great for those pesky roots that get in the way of an otherwise easy-to-dig hole. The blade slides right through the dirt without dulling.
Fisher Blacksmithing, Montana, USA https://fisherblacksmithing.com
Red Pig Tools, Oregon, USA http://www.redpigtools.com
DeWit Garden Tools, Holland http://www.dewit.eu/usa.html
Burgon and Ball, United Kingdom http://www.burgonandball.com/