Whether you have traditional shrub and tree foundation plantings or your version of a Victory Garden vegetable patch, the right tools can make all the difference.
For instance, a good hand trowel makes it easy to dig holes for small plants and to remove weeds. SanSone recommends this stainless steel option that’s sturdy and comfortable to hold.
1. Weeding Fork
A weeding fork is essential for loosening the dirt around plants without damaging the roots. It is similar to a digging shovel, but with straight rather than angled prongs. This durable tool also works well as a general soil cultivator.
This hand-held tool is best for getting to the weeds that sprout close to established flower beds and vegetable patches. Its slender business end looks like a cross between a notched screwdriver and a two-tine fork, allowing the user to gently pry up clumps of dandelion, wood sorrel and annual bluegrass.
Look for quality tools that have a sturdy shaft and a solid union where the head meets the handle. Consider using a weeding fork with ash handles from FSC-certified forests. This ensures that the forest management is environmentally sustainable and socially responsible. This is an important consideration for gardeners who want to limit their carbon footprint.
2. Hand Trowel
A garden trowel is a hand tool for digging and transplanting plants. Look for a sturdy metal body with a comfortable handle. Many come in a set with a hand cultivator and a measuring transplanting trowel that can help you dig holes to precise depths, ideal for planting bulbs.
A prong or rake is another handy hand tool for turning over soil, mixing in compost and breaking up dirt clods. You can also find long-handled weeders to reduce bending and kneeling.
Having the right tools will make gardening easier for experienced and beginner gardeners alike. Keep an eye out for handles that are breathable and designed to reduce wrist strain. The best ones even come with a padded grip to protect your hands. A stainless steel trowel is sturdier than plastic options and will last longer.
3. Garden Fork
There are several types of garden forks, each suited to different tasks. A compost or manure fork, like this one from Fiskars, has a long handle to provide leverage and is great for scooping up heavy materials.
A spading fork, like this from DeWit Welldone, is a bit shorter but works for loosening soil around perennials with deep roots or in rocky ground. It is also good for mixing in amendments and aerating beds.
A border fork, which is similar to a pitch fork but smaller, works best in small spaces where a full sized garden fork might be overkill. They are also great for breaking up compacted soil and can help dig up root vegetables without damaging the plants below. This one has a dual handle for more grip locations and is comfortable to use.
No garden is complete without a good quality rake, and the right tool will help you maintain your lawn and plant beds. The rake is used for a variety of tasks, including removing leaves and debris, making soil smooth, mixing in amendments, loosening dirt clods, breaking up clumps of roots, and even spreading mulch.
Campbell prefers a hard rake, which is sturdier and allows her to get into tight spaces. She also uses the tool for dethatching the lawn and moving large amounts of leaf debris to a compost pile, tarp, or wheelbarrow.
The rake is also useful for loosening and mixing in new soil and compost, and for fine-tuning grading in annual beds. As with all tools, the rake should be cleaned before and after every use to ensure it is free of dirt and other debris that can lead to disease in your plants.
5. Watering Can
Pruning shears are another handheld garden tool that’s essential for anyone who regularly tends to a garden. Also known as secateurs, these bladed hand tools are used to cut the stems and twigs of flower bushes and fruit-bearing plants to encourage new growth and keep things trimmed neatly. (via Advancing Alternatives) Pair them with a pair of leather work gloves to shield your hands from dirt, thorns, and other hazards found in the yard.
Water is the other primary ingredient to a successful garden, so having a good quality watering can is a must. Look for one that has a capacity of at least 2 gallons and a narrow spout that’s easy to control. Choose a plastic or metal model that’s galvanized to resist rust. Then, add a hose and an adjustable nozzle for precise watering and hydration.
6. Pruning Shears
A pair of sturdy pruning shears is a must for gardeners to keep plants looking their best. They’re ideal for trimming hedges, plants and trees to remove overgrowth. Look for comfortable handles to reduce hand strain.
Most experts recommend anvil pruners as they crush husky stems and branches instead of cutting them, which helps preserve the wood for composting or burning. But ratchet pruning shears are also becoming popular with many gardeners because they can cut thicker branches in stages with just a few squeezes.
These tools are just as useful for experienced gardeners as they are for beginner gardeners who are starting small. With their help, gardeners can successfully cultivate a healthy and lush green thumb with ease. And a well-tended garden is one of the most rewarding experiences for any gardener.
7. Garden Knife
Seen here is a versatile tool that’s essential for many gardening tasks. It’s great for digging holes, planting seeds, mixing in fertilizer and weeding. It’s also much more advanced than a trowel and features a blade that makes light work of different cutting jobs.
A hori hori knife is a multi-purpose Japanese tool that’s good for chopping, sowing seeds, transplanting, removing plants and even cutting roots. It’s also a great tool to have handy for cutting vegetables and herbs, plus it can double as a small hand axe.
The tool’s sharp blade is strong enough to cut through roots and heavy weeds, yet it’s safe to use thanks to a guard. It’s easy to use and fits comfortably in your hand. It’s also ideal for opening bags of compost, digging holes and transferring plants to pots.
8. Pruning Scissors
Whether you’re digging holes, removing weeds or transplanting seedlings and bulbs, this handy hand tool allows you to work in small spaces. Look for one with a comfortable, sturdy handle that resists rusting.
Choose a pair of pruning shears that can cut stems and branches up to 3 inches in diameter. They’re also good for trimming indoor plants with thinner stems, such as ferns, prayer plants and dracaenas.
Gardening gloves are a must because prolonged handling of sharp tools can do surprising damage to bare hands. Look for gloves that are durable and protective, especially against thorns, dirt and sap.
9. Pruning Clippers
Pruning plants is important for promoting plant health. It removes dead stems and encourages the growth of new, healthy plants. It also helps maintain plant size and shape. Pruning shears or secateurs are handheld cutting tools that have sharp blades designed to make clean cuts on plants. They are useful for removing unwanted stems, keeping shrubs neat and tidy, and reducing the risk of spreading disease from one plant to another.
The best hand pruners have sharp, high-quality blades that cut easily without causing stress on your hands or wrist. This reduces the strain of pruning, which can be difficult and time consuming with dull tools. Choose from anvil or bypass pruners – the bypass pruners have two sharp blades that move past each other like scissors, while the anvil pruners have a single sharp blade that closes against a flat plate.
10. Watering Wand
Having the right tools will make your gardening experience easier and more enjoyable. A quality set of gardening tools will enable you to complete all the basic garden tasks that are necessary for maintaining a healthy outdoor garden.
Unlike the standard nozzle on a garden hose, a watering wand has a curve that delivers a rainfall effect that is gentle on plants and easy to manage. It’s also great for watering flower boxes or overhead hanging baskets.
Adding a pair of pruning shears to your tool kit will allow you to prune fruit and vegetable plants with ease. Choose shears that are comfortable in your hand and have sharp blades that stay strong throughout use. Knee pads are also a great addition to the gardening tool set as they’ll prevent back pain and strain. They are especially useful when you have to spend a long time on your knees or squatting in the garden.