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How Many Garden Tools Do You Really Need?

After my talk at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show last month, I received a swag, or a bag of goodies to take home and enjoy, as a gift from the Show planners.

To my surprise I found in the bag a new hand garden trowel with a metal end and wooden handle. It looked like a wonderful addition to my collection of garden tools.

Do you have the garden tools you need to do the work? Or are you like me, in possession of many tools you no longer use?

Allison Kyle Leopold writes in her book The Victorian Garden about the effort of nineteenth century seed companies and nurseries to sell garden tools to the Victorian gardener. She says, “While gardeners of the early nineteenth century could get by with just Leopold, Allison VicGara simple spade, a rake, a fork, a hoe, shears, a watering pot, and a wheel barrel, the average gardener of the 1870s was advised to invest in more than 30 different tools – pruning knives and budding knives, seed servers and hand-weeders, wooden rakes for the lawn and steel ones for the beds.”

By the mid nineteenth century mass production made garden tools available cheaply. Machines in large factories produced the tools instead of the local metal worker or carpenter.

Advertising and marketing of garden tools took off after 1860 when colorful chromolithographs caught the attention of the consumer. The back pages of seed and nursey catalogs carried the ads.

No wonder the Victorian gardener had to have so many tools.

How many garden tools do you really need?


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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. How much do the gardening tools cost today? Just the basic one or the necessary tools that are needed for a beginner in gardening like me. I am considering my budget though. Hope you help me. Thank you

  2. The Dawn of the Age of Modern Marketing…. I too make do with a handful of tools (my Hori Hori, shovel, rake, secateurs, hedge shears and hoe, as well as hoses and watering cans — and two sizes of wheelbarrows), but then I don’t have a garden staff of 50 like the Victorian country house gardens had. But we should celebrate the age in which a plethora of tools could be made cheaply enough that ordinary middle class gardeners could be tempted by them. Hurray for the Age of Plenty! -Beth

    1. Your are right on target. One thing is true and that is that prices came down when garden tools were mass produced. Gardening advertising then focused on middle class, suburban home owners who did not have teams of gardeners.

    1. Donna, the same thing happens to me. My current search for a tool centers around something that would me with pruning. Which one? How much do I spend?

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