K-State Research and Extension News
December 13, 2013
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Give the Gift of Gardening this Holiday Season


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Practical and unique gift ideas for beginning and experienced gardeners

OLATHE, Kan. – As holiday shoppers flock to malls, department stores and websites to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones, they might want to think about the gardeners in their life and how they might create the perfect gift for those people.

Hand tools are perhaps the most thought about gifts for gardeners, particularly beginning gardeners, said Dennis Patton, horticulture agent for K-State Research and Extension in Johnson County. Hand tools might include pruning saws, loppers, clippers and scissors. Many of today’s gardening hand tools come in various sizes to help fit people’s hands better and hopefully put less stress on the muscles.

“Unfortunately, when you’re doing a lot of pruning, sawing, dead-heading and clipping, that’s repetitive motion, which is what causes tendinitis and sore muscles,” Patton said.

In addition to coming in various sizes, Patton said most gardening hand tools today have handles that help people get a better grip on them. Some tools even have longer arms and handles for people to strap on to their arms, which relieves strain on their wrists and hands from doing all of the movement and spreads out the motion to a larger part of the body.

“Anything we can do to protect our bodies, just from the wear and tear, is going to be helpful in the garden,” Patton said. “When you go to the garden, you have to think practicality over fashion. A few people might stop and talk to you in your yard, but really it’s kind of a private time. You need to take care of the body first.”

Another way to take care of the body during gardening includes protecting skin from the sun. Patton said other good gift ideas might include a wide-brimmed hat or a hat that also provides a shield for the back of the neck.

Various types of gloves provide gardeners with protection from the sun, splinters and thorns. Patton said for rose gardeners, he recommends fairly thick leather-type gloves to do pruning work. Thinner gloves are best for doing more detailed tasks, where gardeners need to be able to feel and touch more.

There are many tools that help gardeners get up and down easier as well.

“As a gardener myself, when I was younger I’d just crawl around on the ground and not worry about it, but now when I go to the garden, one of the first things I do is grab my kneeling pads,” Patton said. “They’re so much easier on the knees. A lot of gardeners will have tools to push themselves back up once they get down on the ground.”

Gardeners also need containers to put all of their tools in, Patton said. While many people prefer to carry their tools in inexpensive, re-used 5-gallon buckets, some gardeners like containers and storage devices that are easy to fold up but will expand when used in the garden.

Great stocking stuffers for gardeners, Patton said, might include seed packets, gift certificates to local nurseries or even cash tucked away in an envelope with a note telling the gardener to buy something in the spring when many plants are available.


Think unique

Children and young adults who don’t have much money to spend on gifts for their parents might consider giving gift certificates for garden and lawn work, Patton said. Parents could redeem the certificates in the next year for raking, mowing, picking up sticks in the yard or lending a hand in the garden.

“Having the kids around helping not only helps you, but we have to somehow find a way to turn this young generation into outdoorsy people,” Patton said. “Most kids are so electronically heavy now. Anything we can do to get them outdoors, enjoy gardening and enjoy the environment is going to be better for their health when they become adults.”

Patton said a couple of years ago he didn’t know what to get his parents, so he gave them what he called “mad money” to spend on something they wouldn’t typically spend their own money on.

“My parents went to the store, and they bought a bird bath, a bird feeder and bird seed,” he said. “A couple of weeks later, they called and told me how much fun they were having watching the birds. That’s something my parents would’ve never done if I didn’t give them the OK to spend money on things that aren’t necessities in life.”

Some gardeners might also like decorative items for their lawns and gardens, including wind chimes, flags, solar lanterns and even gnomes.

“(Gnomes) have become one of the best conversation pieces for our extension master gardeners,” Patton said. “We actually have a gnome in one of our demonstration gardens that we move around, and it’s kind of a weekly chore to find out where that gnome is hiding. I think that it is a personal taste. You have to have fun in life, and if the whimsy of a gnome brings joy to you, then I say go for it.”

For more information and gardening tips, log on to Patton’s Kansas City Garden blog.

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K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Katie Allen
katielynn@ksu.edu
K-State Research & Extension News

Dennis Patton – Dennis.Patton@jocogov.org or 913-715-7000