Here is a simplified list of the best gardening tools that every gardener needs to enjoy what you love: 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! Going overboard can be too easy if you think you need one of everything.
Don’t Eat Up Your Budget With Gardening Tools
Purchasing gardening tools can quickly consume your budget, take up a lot of storage space, and 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.
No matter what you hear, you don’t need many gardening tools to have a beautiful garden. You 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 gloves can be hard – I’ve tried every kind and brand out there! I have two different types of gloves that I wear depending on what job I’m doing.
I use grippy latex rubber gloves to work with seeds and things that require a little more finesse. When working with spiky plants like roses or other heavy-duty jobs, I use canvas/suede gloves with long cuffs.
Things to look for in gloves:
- Fabric that’s flexible but heavy-duty.
- It’s a good fit to prevent blisters.
- Long cuffs to protect your arms when working with thorns or scratchy items.
A hand trowel, simply put, is a hand-held shovel. I think it’s one of the best gardening tools, and I use mine nearly every 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 much easier without disturbing nearby plants.
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, which works better for digging weeds. I have both, but I use my wider blade more often.
- Stainless steel vs plastic: I recommend purchasing a stainless steel trowel as it’s of 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 favorite digging tool, after my husband.
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 helps work 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 help shift soil around, scoop mulch, and even churn 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 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 use it like a hoe.
- Comfortable handle. You may use this 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 used in the spring when I’m working to prepare my garden for spring 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 didn’t have enough leverage to cut some of those larger branches. Then, I bought a set with gear technology, and the difference was astounding. If you know you’ll need to cut larger branches, 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 have a set with adjustable handle length, which I find a happy medium.
I use my garden rake the most in the spring and fall – when 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.
With its long handle and flat blade, this tool shapes soil, removes weeds, clears debris, and prepares garden beds.
The hori hori, a Japanese gardening tool, is a versatile instrument for multiple purposes. It is predominantly used for cutting plants, such as trimming stems and branches and dividing perennials. However, its functionality extends beyond that as it is also an excellent tool for planting bulbs and seeds. With a sharp, serrated edge, it can effortlessly cut through soil and roots, making it a must-have for any gardener or plant enthusiast.
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 helpful.
This tool is perfect for providing water to potted plants and seedlings with higher accuracy and tenderness than a regular hose. Its design allows for targeted watering, ensuring that the plants receive just the right amount of moisture needed for their growth and development.
Garden Hose with Adjustable Nozzle
A watering system is a crucial tool for maintaining a healthy garden. It provides the necessary hydration for plants to thrive and ensures they receive the right amount of water at the right time.
With various water pressures and patterns available, you can customize your watering system to meet the needs of different plants and tasks. Whether you need a gentle mist for delicate flowers or a powerful jet for deep-rooted shrubs, a well-designed watering system can help you achieve a lush and vibrant garden.
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 once 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 fit most gardening needs well. 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 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 makes the job easier and more enjoyable! No matter which of these top gardening tools you buy, research and invest in durable items that will last for many years.
Did you know there are specific tools for indoor gardens as well?
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Author: Laura Kennedy
Writer & Owner of Little Yellow Wheelbarrow