Each year my company scours the planet in search of the newest, coolest and best gardening gear and gadgets. The longer we do this, the harder it is to find those must-have items. In fact, this year was the first time we didn't certify our usual Top 10 items. But the show must go on. So we revisited a few "Hall of Famers" and I present to you my seven "Best of the Must-haves" for 2009.
- 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 family with "attitude," as the Kombi folks say, and we concur. There are six styles, from the Kombi Forever shovel down to the Kombi Trowel. My favorite application is for digging out shrubs with tough roots or when dealing with hard, rocky soil.
- 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 are 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 really 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.
Joe Lamp'l, host of "GardenSMART" on PBS, is a master gardener and author.