Updated: Mar 11, 2022
What will you find in a LadyBug's tool kit? Multi-functional, easily accessible, durable tools.
EarthCare Essentials for Land Stewards + Eco Gardeners
Every time the LadyBugs load up for an EarthCare job, we make sure we have a collection of essential tools on hand. Many of them fit in a small bucket for easy transport on site. Others are donated, upcycled and rescued from ending up in the landfill with a bit of TLC.
Here's a list of our go-to tools, with links, care tips and ideas for where to get your own.
Note: LadyBug EarthCare is not being paid to promote any products in this post. Just sharing recommendations with our community!
Bucket List: Hand Tools
These hand tools will fit in a small 2 gallon bucket, like this one.
Hori hori - Japanese garden knife with 7" concave blade, marked with measurements for easy bulb planting. One edge is smooth, and the other serrated, to aid in cutting into and digging through tough soil, stems and roots. Read more about our favorite garden tool and why we love it!
Gloves - protect your most valuable and versatile tool...your hands! Our favorite are these sustainable, comfortable and durable Bamboo Gardening Gloves.
Hand Pruners - light pruning, cutting aggressive vines near the base
Foldable Tree Saw - pruning small branches, cutting through thicker vines
Tape Measure - accurately measure spaces for garden expansion, sheet mulching, plant placement and more. We use one like this.
Pencil + Notebook
EarthCare is SelfCare
First Aid Kit! A few personal care supplies in a small pouch fits perfectly in the bucket. Pads, wipes, bandaids, antibiotic ointment, etc.
Poison Ivy Scrub + Cloth
Kind Bar / high-in-protein snacks
In The Shed: Eco Garden + Land Steward Tools
Tons of EarthCare work can be done with simple, familiar tools that are easy to find at yard sales, neighborhood swaps, or in community groups like the Susquehanna Garden Share.
Spade - digging bigger holes to plant trees and shrubs, and a variety of things that are hard to predict until you're on site and just really need a shovel...bring at least one per person on the job!
Flat Shovel - ideal for shoveling soil + compost, and scooping mulch off the ground
Pitchfork - our preferred way to load mulch into wheel barrows
Flat-Tine Metal Rake - spreading soil and compost in garden beds
Curved-Tine Metal Rake - spreading mulch and wood chips
Spring Rake - ideal for raking debris from pruning, removing clippings from grass or patches of ground cover, and lots more - try it out!
Leaf Rake - while we always recommend leaving the leaves, it's sometimes useful to move them from grass into garden beds, or collect for an extra layer of organic matter in a sheet mulching project.
Digging Iron - great for removing unwanted or aggressive shrubs, small trees who are out of place, deeply entrenched aggressive vine roots, and more.
Tree Loppers - pruning shrubs, vines, small branches
Root Loppers - designed to cut better through soil, when it's necessary to remove a section of roots to make space for new plantings, gardens, leveling raised bets, digging a rain channel, etc.
Edger - makes lovely clean edges around new garden beds and sheet mulching projects, if aesthetics are a concern (lookin' at you, HOAs...)
Push Broom - works great for clearing soil and mulch from driveways or streets
Buckets - always handy to collect debris, transport mulch and soil to out-of-reach areas, carry materials, and so much more. Have at least 2 per person on site.
Tarps - use to cover ground under soil and mulch piles to prevent waste, collect and haul clippings, debris, piles of leaves for sheet mulching, and much more.
The LadyBug Crew never goes anywhere without our Rebel Garden Tools. These innovative and powerful tools are high quality, handmade, and designed by woodland steward, forager, and citizen-scientist, Wilson Alvarez, with input + feedback from Benjamin Weiss, who also manages the brand under Susquehanna Sustainable Enterprises. While each unique tool excels in its own niche in the forest, field or garden, they're also incredibly versatile, and we wouldn't dream of showing up for a project without them.
5-Tine Broadfork - for breaking up sod, turning soil, prepping to plant trees + gardens
Magna Grecia Field Model - amazing for cutting through roots, breaking up clods, sifting or removing sod + chunky bits, trenching, and even digging in a pinch! One of our most used tools.
Tool Care Tips
With the proper care, even rescued tools can be refurbished and kept in working order for a long time.
Remove dirt after working - keep a few rags in your shed to scrub soil off tools to prevent rust.
Periodically apply coconut oil to metal tools with a clean rag.
Keep tools dry and sheltered from the weather for rust prevention.
Plan to sharpen tools on a regular basis. Use whetstones to sharpen edges on axes, saws and hori horis. Look for loppers and pruners that can be taken apart and sharpened. Pro Tip: Sharpen your spades! Their job is to cut through roots and soil, and they work most efficiently when their edges are kept clean and sharp.
While regular tool maintenance is essential throughout the seasons, winter and summer are ideal times to plan more extensive tool maintenance days.