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These aren't your garden-variety tools

For years, we've searched the planet for the newest, coolest and best gardening gear and gadgets. Each year it gets harder to find those must-have items. But the show must go on. So we revisit a few Hall of Famers and present to you nine Best of the Must-Haves.

Joe Lamp'l, Scripps Howard News Service

Espoma All-Natural Weed Preventer

This eco-friendly corn gluten product is safe for children and pets, is a natural pre-emergence weed control and adds nitrogen to the soil, naturally greening your lawn while preventing weeds. Although Espoma isn't the only company selling corn gluten, we liked its recognized brand name in natural and organic products and that they are carried in garden centers and big-box stores across America.

CobraHead

The CobraHead is the king of the hill as far as we're concerned when it comes to the best tool for getting out those deep, tap-rooted weeds, and is even designed for precision weeding around tender plants. Using the CobraHead is like having a "steel fingernail," as the manufacturer likes to say, and we agree. It's just as effective for scraping out hard-to-reach weeds from cracks and crevices in sidewalks and driveways.

Black & Decker 36-Volt String Trimmer

Finally, a rechargeable, battery-operated string trimmer with the power of a professional gasoline-style model but without all the air and noise pollution that goes with it. No more excuses about waiting for power. It's all here and more.

Kombi

This is the shovel with "attitude," as the Kombi folks say, and we concur. Part shovel, cultivator, edger and weeder, this tool has lots of uses. There are six styles, from the Kombi Pro down to the Kombi Trowel. My favorite application is for digging out shrubs with tough roots or when dealing with hard, rocky soil. To have this tool in your arsenal is to love it.

GreenJeans

These are lightweight, nylon, protective chaps, tough enough for even the most demanding gardeners and landscapers. They're water- and wind-resistant, and go on and off easily with non-binding straps. The best part, loved by all who wear them, is the built-in knee pads that provide the protection you need without the discomfort of standard pads held in place by straps. Their washability keeps GreenJeans working well and looking great season after season.

Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard DLX Broadcast Spreader

Keeping chemical products on target is important and made much easier with Scotts' patented technology. This lever, when activated, blocks off the right side of the spreader pattern to prevent fertilizer, granular chemicals or seed from spreading where not intended. At the same time, it adjusts flow rate to ensure even application while saving time and money.

Dual-Flo Nozzle

This sturdy hose-end nozzle delivers a soft stream of water, suitable for gently filling containers or watering tender plants directly. But with one easy twist of a side-mounted knob, it instantly redirects the water into a high-pressure flow, strong enough to clean even the most stubborn mud off your driveway.

West County Gardener Gloves

The snug yet comfortable fit, the stylish design and attractive colors make wearing these tough-duty garden gloves something to look forward to. And with all-new eco-friendly material, each pair keeps one 8-ounce plastic bottle from the landfill.

Wingscapes BirdCam

This is our first venture outside of true gardening, but we know most gardeners love attracting and feeding birds, too. This sturdy, weatherproof, motion-activated camera can mount near your bird feeder or birdbath. Its high-resolution 3.1-megapixel camera focuses from 18 inches to infinity — or so it seems — and it takes still images or video.

• To see pictures and additional information about the Best of the Must-haves program, along with links to each of the companies, go to www.joegardener.com.

Joe Lamp'l, host of GardenSMART on PBS, is a master gardener and author.

These aren't your garden-variety tools 02/20/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 20, 2009 3:30am]

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