7 Essential Must Have Gardening Tools & Tips


Welcome to Julie Orr Landscape Design, where decades of dedication to design and nature converge to create award-winning landscape masterpieces. Our unique blend of expertise in both Interior Design and Horticultural Design, honed through years at prestigious architectural firms, meets a deep love for nature, making us your go-to choice for landscape design. Since 2006, we’ve been shaping the outdoor spaces of Silicon Valley homeowners, leveraging local knowledge for personalized, collaborative designs that harmonize livability and aesthetics. Join us on a journey to elevate your landscape designs, as we unveil the seven essential tools every gardener should have.

1. Know Your Soil: The Foundation of Success

Understanding your soil is key to a thriving landscape. In the Bay Area, clay-based soil is a common challenge, but it’s not insurmountable. There are two tips to remember: either work with the soil given using plants like California natives that thrive in clay soil or amend your existing soil. Amending soil with compost for will produce healthier, friable earth in your garden. Either topdress soil with 2″ of compost and allow time for the compost to sink into the earth or add compost directly to each planting hole to promote good soil in the localized planting areas. in severe cases of compaction, rototilling in new compost to hard clay earth might be required to bring back friable conditions for planting.

2. Professional-Grade Pruning Shears: Sculpting Nature with Precision

Pruning is an art that can transform your landscape. Explore the role of professional-grade pruning shears in shaping your outdoor aesthetic. Keeping tools clean and sharp are the basics to plant health since damage and diseases can be occur when using blunt and infected tools. A good book on pruning or a pruning class can help with most gardening questions on timing and technique.

3. High-Quality Cleaning Hardscape Tools: Maintenance

Maintenance is the key to preserving the beauty of your hardscape. It’s important to keep your outdoor surfaces free from debris and stains using power washers and garden-safe degreasers.  For porcelain tiles, a steam mop can work wonders, ensuring your hardscape shines.

4. Garden Software/Apps: Design in the Digital Age

Step into the digital age of gardening with the help of garden design software and apps. These tools can boost your plant knowledge, assist with plant identification, and make plant maintenance a breeze. Popular garden design software and apps like Plant Master and Plant Net, can help you start designing your dream garden today.

5. Top-Notch Watering Systems: Nurturing Your Creations

Proper watering is the lifeblood of your landscape. High quality watering systems along with smart timers take the guesswork out of irrigation. We recommend Netafim drip irrigation coverage on both sides of the plant for a non clogging drip solution.

6. Landscape Lighting: Transforming Nightscapes

Nightscapes can be as enchanting as your daytime garden. Low voltage LED systems rung with low voltage wiring and a transformer/timer so that you can set it and forget it.  We love a variety of lighting effects such as: wall washers (for a wider beam spread on plants and house), step lights (provide stair safety), path lights or spot lights (to light the circulation paths) and down lighting (hanging lights in a tall tree to create a “moonlight” effect).

7. Eco-Friendly Materials: Sustaining Beauty

In today’s world, sustainability is paramount. Using wood mulch, organic fertilizers, and pet-safe insecticides/herbicides, ensures that your landscape not only looks beautiful but also respects the environment.


In summary, your journey to garden mastery begins with the right tools. We’ve unveiled the seven essential tools every gardener should have, providing you with the knowledge and resources to elevate your outdoor spaces. Using these tools, you can transform your visions into stunning reality.

At Julie Orr Landscape Design, we understand the importance of these tools in creating exceptional landscapes. We invite you to explore and implement these essentials in your own projects. Should you seek professional guidance and expertise, don’t hesitate to contact us. Let’s collaborate to bring your landscape dreams to life, leveraging our years of experience and love for design and nature. Together, we can make your outdoor space a masterpiece of beauty and functionality.