The Tools, Essentials, and Must-Haves Every Gardener Should Own
The bloom may have faded on your old planting gear, but we've dug up the gardening tools, equipment, essentials, and must-haves that will be the sharpest tools in your shed. Consider it your very own garden starter kit, with everything you need (with the help of a few gardening tips) to make your garden really grow. Whether you're caring for outdoor plants or container gardening, this gear will have you covered—just don't forget to water plants, too.
At the end of the day, having a shed (or even just a bucket) full of top-notch gardening tools won't make or break your garden, but it does make weeding, seeding, fertilizing, and more a whole lot easier, especially if you actually enjoy using your gardening equipment. You'll still need to give those greens a lot of TLC—without that, even the hardiest plant won't thrive.
With a little effort, some steady attention, and the help of trusty garden tools, though, you'll be able to nurture your greenspace into whatever you want it to be, whether that's a vertical garden or an edible one. Just don't get caught up in the rat race of gardening tools: Having great tools is important, yes, but that doesn't mean you need the latest and greatest, or that you need to purchase a whole new set of tools every season.
If you've had the same long-handed shovel for years and it's doing just fine, stick with it for as long as you can. (If it ain't broke, right?) But if you're just starting out in the world of plant care, stocking up on helpful essentials—think a hardy hose, an unbreakable trowel, and a sturdy set of gloves—might mean the difference between a successful foray and one that's quickly abandoned. With a little investment in some solid garden tools, you'll be enjoying blooms and fresh veggies or herbs in a snap.
Tips for Buying and Storing
Try tools on for size. You can't dig a hole in the aisle at Home Depot, but you should spend time handling tools, mimicking the actions you perform in the garden. If the tool feels too heavy, you risk injury; if the handle is too long or too big, it won't be comfortable. Look for D-shape handles on short-shafted tools, such as shovels and digging forks: They are easier on the wrists. If you buy online, make sure tools are returnable.
Opt for tools with wood or coated-metal handles. These are strong but not too heavy. Ash and hickory are the most durable woods. Avoid Douglas fir, which is used for lesser-quality tools, and painted handles (paint is often used to disguise inferior wood). The closer and tighter the grain, the stronger the wood. Manufacturers make many confusing claims about quality, but the words "single forged," "solid socket," "carbon steel," "stainless steel," "tempered," and "epoxy coated" are all indicators of well-made tools. Tubular-steel and fiber-glass handles, used on professional tools, are generally too heavy and expensive for use by anyone but professional landscapers.
Store tools properly. Long-handled tools should be hung neatly on a peg rack, which will protect edges from dulling. Short-handled tools can be stored in a garden bag that travels with you as you work.
Best Hand Tools
Hand rake: A hand rake can pick up piles of leaves and garden trash and gently remove debris from under and around plants without damaging roots or crowns. This one has bright orange accents to help you keep it in sight as you work. To buy: $11 (was $16); amazon.com.
Water breaker: For gently irrigating new plantings or soaking established ones. Hundreds of Amazon shoppers recommend this lightweight option. To buy: $17 (was $19); amazon.com.
Japanese gardener's knife (or hori-hori): This favorite of many professionals does five jobs well. Use it instead of a trowel for digging, planting bulbs, and weeding. The saw blade cuts roots and divides small perennials. The pointed end is a crevice tool. To buy: $24 (was $30); amazon.com.
Shears: For trimming grass around tree trunks and shrubs; edging beds and paths; and cutting back ornamental grasses and clumps of perennials. To buy: $13; amazon.com.
Scissors: This handy tool is great for removing dead flowers, cutting soft-stemmed plants like herbs, pruning small or delicate plants, snipping twine, and thinning perennials. This pair is even spring-loaded, making it super easy to use. To buy: $7; amazon.com.
Hand pruner: Use this to cut thin branches less than three-quarters of an inch, prune perennials, and trim the stems of larger flowers. It can also score and slice root balls before planting. To buy: $24 (was $28); amazon.com.
Hand weeder: The thin, sharp blade of this hand weeder removes shallow-rooted weeds, while the ergonomically designed handle helps reduce hand strain. To buy: $13 (was $16); amazon.com.
Best Long-Handled Tools
From left to right:
Long-handled pruner: This is ideal for cutting branches thicker than three-quarters of an inch. This lightweight option is 30 inches long to help you reach high branches. To buy: $58 (was $68); amazon.com.
Round-headed shovel: Perfect for digging holes to plant trees and shrubs and moving loose materials, such as soil, gravel, sand, and compost. This Radius Garden shovel has an extra-wide footstep for better balance, and it comes with a lifetime guarantee. To buy: $60; amazon.com.
Digging fork: For turning and cultivating unbroken soil, mixing amendments into soil, breaking up clods, and lifting bulbs and perennials for transplanting and dividing. To buy: $37; amazon.com.
Leaf rake: This adjustable rake for pulling in leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and other light debris from lawns has earned hundreds of five-star reviews. To buy: $18 (was $20); amazon.com.
Protect Your Hands
Garden gloves are as essential a gardening tool as a shovel or a rake. It may seem extravagant, but owning three pairs will make a multitude of tasks easier. (Your cuticles will thank you, too.)
Washable synthetic gloves: Wear these during general maintenance, such as deadheading, weeding in dry soil, and handling seeds. The thin fabric and snug fit allow your fingers maximum dexterity. This pair has knuckle guards, palm padding, and extra-long forearms for added protection. To buy: $18; amazon.com.
Latex-coated cotton gloves: For dirty, wet jobs, like picking up leaves or planting shrubs, and for working with thorny plants (the latex coating is puncture-resistant). To buy: $14 (was $15); amazon.com.
Heavy-duty leather gloves: This durable pair of gloves will help you with tough jobs like digging holes, clearing brush, and carrying firewood. To buy: $21; amazon.com.
Arm protectors: Consider elasticized sleeves if you often prune brambly shrubs. To buy: $29; amazon.com.
Best Light Work Gloves
Womanswork Weeding Gloves
Made of thin rubber and breathable nylon (your hands won't sweat), these offer ultimate tactility, so you can grasp even tiny, hard-to-get weeds. They range in size from small to large and are available in three colors. Plus, they are machine-washable.
Best Watering Can
Cado Plastic Watering Can
This watering may be spacious, but it's also easy to carry thanks to a straight upper handle. It has a built-in narrow spout for watering plants, and it comes with a wide spout attachment for ground plants. Even better, it holds two gallons of water at a time.
Felco Ergonomic Premium #8
The last pair you'll ever buy. This expert stainless clipper has a divot to whisk away sap, rubber bumpers to absorb shock, and a notch for cutting wire. All parts are replaceable.
Ames Four-Tine Raised Bed Cultivator
This four-tined cultivator is long enough to reach under shrubs, simplifying tasks like turning soil, mixing in fertilizer, and unearthing big weeds.
Best Border Spade
Clarington Forge Border Spade
This spade is hand-forged using a single piece of steel, guaranteeing that this digger is in it for the long haul. It's a great tool for light digging, edging, and uprooting.
Best Coil Garden Hose
Terrain Coil Garden Hose
Compact when not in use, this lightweight coiled hose can extend up to 50 feet to reach all corners of the yard.
Best Hand Fork
Sophie Conran Hand Fork
This ergonomic hand fork will help any gardener till her soil with ease. Beautiful in design, this functional tool is also rust-resistant.
Women's Gardeners Gloves
Skydeer Women's Gardening Gloves
These supple goatskin gloves mold to the gardener's hand and provide protection from thorny branches. Shoppers love how comfortable and flexible the waterproof gloves are and the fact that there are six stylish prints to choose from.
Gardener's Tool Seat
Uncommon Goods Gardener's Tool Seat
Stash hand tools in the pockets of this sturdy gardening bench or remove the tool bag completely to keep the seat separate from the storage spot.