Photography by John O’Donnell
Mark Mariani started digging garden beds, planting flowers, and pruning shrubs—for hire—at the age of 11. Today, he’s the driving force behind his spectacular eponymous Armonk garden center—it includes a nursery, orchard, design boutique, floral shop, and café. Here, Mariani shares his must-have list of tools that everyone—whether bona-fide green thumbs or nervous novices—should use to help make their gardens blossom.
1) Cultivator ($48) Also known as a potato hook, this tool is perfect for tilling soil—in order to aerate and freshen it—and pulling out pesky weeds. A nice plus? “It can get into tight places without damaging the plants,” Mariani says.
2) Pitch Fork ($65) You might think you need one of these only if you’re pitching hay on the back forty. Actually, it’s also useful for spreading mulch on suburban gardens. “It’s particularly helpful for clean up and those times between seasons,” Mariani says.
3) Spade ($69) This basic gardening implement earns top billing for its versatility. “You can use it for just about any gardening chore,” says Mariani. Plus, he notes, a quick sharpening will always keep it working just like new.
4) Small Hand Trowel ($15.50) Mariani recommends keeping this useful gardening tool on hand for potting and transplanting small plants, edging flower beds, and pulling out weeds. “It’s especially handy for getting into tight places.”
5) Pruning Shears ($25) Every gardener should own a good pair of pruning shears, Mariani says. “They’re great for sculpting your garden.”