You don’t need every single gardening tool available to grow your dream garden. Here is a simplified list of the best gardening tools that every gardener really needs so you can enjoy what you love: gardening!
The snow is melting away and the weather is warming up… it’s time to get outside and start gardening! I love being able to get outside in the spring sunshine, hear the birds, and see the new growth peeking out after a cold winter!
And just like any job, gardening is much easier, more enjoyable, and produces better results when you use the right tools. That doesn’t mean you need to buy every gardening tool available! It can be too easy to go overboard if you think you need one of everything.
Purchasing gardening tools can quickly eat up your budget, take up a lot of storage space, and they aren’t always necessary. I thought it would be helpful to create a list of the best gardening tools that every gardener needs so that you know where to focus your time and resources.
Here is my list of must-have best gardening hand tools to start (and maintain) your dream garden.
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Top 10 Best Gardening Tools Every Gardener Needs
No matter what you may hear, you don’t need a huge selection of gardening tools in order to have a beautiful garden. You just need to have the right tools. Here are the top gardening tools that are essential to have on hand.
Although I personally prefer to garden barehanded, I’ve had too many instances of getting poked by plants or running into various bugs I would have liked to avoid.
In the last few years, I’ve started wearing gardening gloves regularly, and while I miss the feel of the dirt in my fingers, I can always get my hands dirty with container gardening!
Finding the right pair of gloves can be hard – I’ve tried just about every kind and brand out there! In fact, I have two different types of gloves that I wear depending on what job I’m doing.
For working with seeds and things that require a little more finesse, I use a pair of grippy latex rubber gloves. When I’m working with spiky plants like roses or other heavy duty jobs, I use a pair of canvas/suede gloves with long cuffs.
Things to look for in gloves:
- Fabric that’s flexible but heavy duty.
- A good fit to prevent getting blisters.
- Long cuffs to protect your arms when working with thorns or scratchy items.
A hand trowel, simply put, is basically a hand-held shovel. I think it’s one of the very best gardening tools, and I use mine nearly every single day I garden.
It has a long pointed blade that makes it perfect for digging in small spaces to make tasks such as transplanting flowers or digging up weeds without disturbing nearby plants much easier.
Things to consider when choosing a hand trowel:
- There are two styles: A broad blade which is great for slightly bigger jobs, and a narrow blade that works better for digging up weeds. I have both but use my wider blade more often.
- Stainless steel vs plastic: I recommend purchasing a stainless steel trowel as it’s higher quality and will last longer.
- Hold the trowels you are considering. Is the handle comfortable for your hand? If not, move on and find one that is.
Besides my hand trowel, my shovel is my favourite digging tool!
A shovel is necessary for bigger jobs such as breaking up dirt or removing roots, unwanted plants, or larger weeds. I have one with a slightly pointy tip and find that helpful when working with hard clay or rocky soil.
I recommend splurging for a heavy-duty shovel with a fibreglass handle. You want something strong because the handle will need to endure some serious torque at times. Although it’s more expensive, with proper care it may be the last shovel you ever need to buy!
Tip: Avoid wood handles that wear down over time and can even give you splinters. Ouch!
Garden Hand Fork
Similar to a hand trowel in size, a hand fork has 3 or 4 sturdy metal tines and is usually bent at a square angle. Its purpose is similar to a pitchfork but is helpful for working in smaller areas.
I use it to loosen small patches of dirt and turn over and aerate soil such as when I am transplanting small plants or planting seeds for my vegetable garden. The curved tines are helpful for shifting soil around, scooping mulch, and even churning up compost piles.
Things to look for:
- Decide on bent or straight tines. Straight tines are slightly better for loosening up compacted soil. However, I really prefer using bent (square) tines as they are more durable and don’t bend when you run into a rock. To loosen up the soil, I simply use it like I would use a hoe.
- Comfortable handle. This is something you may use regularly, so make sure it feels good in your hand before you purchase it or you may end up with very sore hands!
Also called a digging fork or a large garden fork, I use it for loosening up and aerating larger patches of soil and incorporating fresh soil or compost into the existing dirt. Mine gets the most use in the spring when I’m working to get my garden ready for planting.
Things to look for when purchasing a pitch fork:
- Sturdy handle: Just like with a shovel, pitchfork handles need to endure torque when you use them. Avoid wooden handles (and splinters!) as much as possible.
- D-handle: Some have a D handle at the end of the long handle. I find these to be helpful for manoeuvrability when working in tighter spaces and for over-all hand comfort.
Also known as pruning shears or secateurs, hand pruners are a sort of heavy-duty and sharp scissor that’s used to trim back plants. Besides my trowel and gardening gloves, my gardening shears are one of my best gardening tools.
I use them to trim my roses and overgrown plants, deadhead flowers, and clean up the garden for new spring growth. Note: Because these shears are small, they are meant for cutting small items, not branches.
Things to look for:
- A high-quality, sharp, heavy-duty blade to make cutting easy.
- Non-slip, ergonomically designed, and comfortable handles.
For larger cutting jobs, you need a set of loppers. They’re essentially long-handled pruners designed for cutting limbs and other items from the thickness of your finger to a diameter of about 1.5”.
Things to look for:
- Standard handles vs gear technology: I had loppers with standard handles for years but found I didn’t have quite enough leverage to be able to cut some of those larger branches. Then, I bought a set with gear technology and the difference was astounding to me. If you know you’ll need to cut larger branches, just go ahead and invest in the gear technology.
- Handle length: The longer the handle, the more space you need to store and the heavier and more awkward the loppers will be. On the other hand, longer handles mean you can reach farther to cut branches, and have more leverage for cutting. I actually have a set that has adjustable handle length which I find to be a happy medium.
I use my garden rake the most in the spring and fall – when I’m preparing my garden and raking up leaves. However, my garden rake also gets a workout when I need to level out the soil in an area, spread mulch, remove lawn thatch, or loosen dirt to spread seeds.
Pro Tip: Avoid those large plastic rakes. Those won’t do you any good for gardening – the only task they are helpful for is raking up leaves in the fall. Instead, buy a gardening rake that has curved metal tines.
If gardening is hard on your joints, one of the best gardening tools in your arsenal would be to invest in some knee pads or a kneeling pad made from foam. I’ve found a gardening seat with a removable foam kneeling pad to be helpful.
Last, but certainly not least, is a trusty wheelbarrow. Its uses are practically limitless, making it one of the best gardening tools. It’s especially helpful for carrying heavy items such as soil and mulch or multiple items such as several plants at one time to reduce the number of trips you need to make. Of course, I prefer mine in yellow!
What to look for:
- Standard models vs two-wheels: Standard models are a good fit for most gardening needs. Two-wheel models are superior if you regularly haul very heavy loads.
- Tires: We have had a flat tire several times on our standard wheelbarrow. It’s an annoying and time-consuming process. Whether you are purchasing a wheelbarrow or dealing with a flat, I highly recommend spending just a little extra for a never-flat tire.
Having the right tool for the job not only makes the job easier but also more enjoyable! No matter which of these top gardening tools you buy, do a little research and invest in durable items that will last for many years.
Did you know there are specific tools for indoor gardens as well?