Starting a garden is exciting, but at the same time can be incredibly overwhelming. If you’re a first-time gardener, everything is new. You have to figure out what you want to grow and where you want to grow it. And then you have to figure out how to make it happen. Unfortunately, gardening isn’t as simple as putting some seeds in the ground and letting nature take its course. You need to work hard and you need tools to help you do that work. With some essential gardening tools in your arsenal, you’ll be ready to kickstart your new garden without breaking the bank.
When you first walk into a home improvement or garden store and check out the aisles of garden and lawn tools you’ll realize they’ve got a tool for everything. However, you don’t need a tool for everything–that’s just wasted money and another unused item gathering dust in the garage. But what garden tools are essential? In this article we break down the tools you’ll use most in your garden. These are tried & true basic garden tools, as well as tools and equipment that have multiple uses when your work in your garden and yard. We break down what you’ll need them for, what to look for when you’re buying garden tools, and give you some recommendations for each tool.
The Best Essential Gardening Tools for Beginners
You may not think of gloves when you think of garden tools, but they are one of the most important accessories you can have since they protect your most important tool: your hands. In addition, your wrists and even arms are sheltered from scratches, callouses, and getting dirty.
The type of gloves you get will depend on the type of work you’re doing. If you deal with a lot of thorny plants, long rose garden gloves will defend against scratches. If heavy yard work callouses your hands, look for leather palmed work gloves. If you’re mostly just digging in soft soil and tending to your vegetable garden, there’s plenty of affordable and lightweight gloves to choose from. There’s even touchscreen compatible garden gloves so you can stay connected while you work.
Hori Hori Garden Knife
A hori hori is always the first tool I recommend to new gardeners because it has so many uses. It’s a Japanese tool designed to work as a knife, a shovel, a ruler, and more.
Use it to dig holes for planting–it’s especially good for when you’re planting seeds since you can measure the depth of the hole with the blade. The shape of the blade is also perfect for transplanting as it can easily slide into the pot to get the seedling out. A hori hori also worked pretty well for weeding and loosening soil. Many models come with a belt holder, which makes sense because gardeners find themselves reaching for this tool again and again.
Round Head Shovel
There are so many shovels and spaces in different designs and sizes available, but a nice quality round head shovel will give you the most bang for your buck and take care of most digging tasks.
Use a shovel to break apart dirt, dig larger holes, and transplant soil. In a pinch, it can easily take the place of a spade or garden hoe.
For Container Gardeners: if you don’t have a need for a shovel, a hand trowel is the perfect digging tool for you. Use it to transfer dirt to containers and transplant seedlings.
Pruning shears are a best of both worlds tool for gardeners. You can easily use them to prune or harvest delicated plants like herbs as well as cutting or trimming light branches.
Look for all steel shears, like the one pictured to the right from Fiskars which can cut branches up to 5/8″ thick. These pruners will be useful in your vegetable garden, with bushes and shrubs, as well as some small tree branches.
There’s a couple different designs and styles of hand rakes to choose from, depending on what kind of work you need to do. For an all-encompassing tool, find a three-pronged cultivator that has sturdy tines.
Use it to clear leaves or spread mulch. A good cultivator is also great for breaking up dirt, turning the soil, and mixing in compost. They’re also fantastic for digging out weeds, especially when working in small places between plants. While you’d need bigger tools for a large patch of yard, a hand cultivator is perfect for flower and garden beds, plus works great in a container garden.
When dealing with bigger spaces, a bow rake is a good tool. Use it to spread soil or compost, clear leaves from a garden bed, or even to break up and turn soil. When you’re first starting out, you may be able to get away with using your bow rake for many tasks that usually require a a spading fork.
For other yard work, a bow rake can also be used to gather leaves or grass clippings on your lawn, saving you the money of buying a yard rake. They’re also great for spreading mulch.
For Container Gardeners: Stick with a hand rake like recommended above. Unless you’re working with raised garden beds, you won’t find many uses for a bow rake.
Hydration is essential, no mater what kind of plants you’re growing. A garden hose makes it easy to water your lawn, flower beds, vegetable gardens, and outdoor container gardens. Look for a hose that is sturdy and long enough to reach from your spigot to all the corners of your yard.
If weight is a concern for you, forgo a traditional rubber hose for a lightweight expandable hose like the Pocket Hose.
For Container Gardeners: A watering can might better meet your needs, especially if you don’t have a traditional yard. They make it easier to water small containers in inconvenient location and houseplants.
These tools will be enough to get started on your gardening adventure. As you discover new needs, you can add on to your collection of yard and gardening tools. When shopping for tools, you want to look for well made, stainless steel tools. You may have to pay a little more money, but it’s an investment for the future. Good tools will last you decades.
Ready to take your gardening to the next level? Check out these 15 common gardening tools and their uses.
Ready to start your first vegetable garden? Learn about the easiest to grow fruits and vegetables for beginners.