5 Time-Saver Gardening Tools

A pole saw pruning a tree limb.

Gardening is by nature a laborious, time consuming task. However, having the right tools eases the work of planting, maintaining, and beautifying your outdoor space. The right tool for the task reduces the burden on your back and can save time that would be better spent relaxing in your garden, rather than laboring at it.

Here are a few often overlooked tools that are among the top garden time savers, some of which have been around in one form or another for centuries, if not millennia, and others that are relatively modern inventions.

1. Hori-Hori Knife

A hori-hori is an ancient Japanese tool that is part trowel and part knife and was traditionally used for transplanting bonsai specimens and digging tubers in rocky mountainous areas.

5 Time-Saver Gardening Tools

Unlike most trowels that bend if you apply pressure to the blade while trying to pry up a stubborn root or rock, a bomb proof hori-hori does not bend or break easily. It's made with a heavy gauge steel shank, which is sandwiched inside a durable wooden handle. The narrow blade is good for getting in tight places, while the serrated edge is useful for cutting through matted roots. Modern hori-horis also come with inch markings in the back of the blade which is useful in bulb planting.

2. Edging Knife

Another type of gardening "knife" is used to cut through mats of turf to prevent grass from creeping into flower beds.

5 Time-Saver Gardening Tools

Edging knives have a long handle like a shovel with a flat blade at the bottom designed to be stepped on to provide the oomph to push it through the thick rhizomes of lawn grasses. Edging knives are a quick and easy way to maintain a clean line around the edge of your lawn - one of the little tricks to making the yard look really sharp!

3. Leaf Shredder

These come in various forms - there are stand alone models and ones designed to attach to a leaf blower or lawnmower.

5 Time-Saver Gardening Tools

The idea is that instead of bagging up all your leaves and putting them on the curb, you can shred them up into a ready made soil amendment. Feed fallen leaves through the shredder - or even better, suck them up with a shredder attachment on one of your gas-powered lawn tools - and they will have the right texture to break down quickly in a compost pile, to be used as a tidy, nutritive mulch for flower beds or to be blended directly into poor soil as a form of soil conditioner.

4. Pole Pruners

Depending on the task at hand there are several types of pole pruners to choose from, all of which allow you to work on your trees without getting onto a ladder.

5 Time-Saver Gardening Tools

The most common is a telescoping pruner with a combination lopping blade (for cutting limbs up to an inch in diameter) and short saw (for larger limbs). The lopper is activated by pulling on a rope that dangles alongside the pole, which can reach up to 15 feet or more depending on the model. There are also gas and electric-powered versions for heavier tree work, as well as smaller versions with a blade like a pair of hand pruners for fine scale pruning work on fruit trees.

5. Cherry Picker

Speaking of fruit trees and pole-mounted tools, the "cherry picker" is intended for picking fruit without climbing the tree or getting on a ladder.

5 Time-Saver Gardening Tools

Cherry pickers consist of a metal claw with a basket that catches the fruit as you pull it down and can be found in various lengths and sizes depending on the size of the tree and the type of fruit being harvested. So while it's traditionally called a cherry picker, this tool comes in handy for harvesting almost any type of fruit - and is arguably the one garden tool that not only saves time, but is fun to use.

photos by Home Depot