12 Essential Garden
Tools no Gardener Should be Without!
If you are in the garden like I am every day there comes
a time when
you know which essential garden tools you need and which you don't.
Fads come and go, and that can be said too of the gardening world. You
will find some new gadget that pops up and gets advertised to death
only to find that it really doesn't work as well as those trusty old
garden tools that you have, that have stood the test of time.
But before you go out and buy these essential tools, if you are a
beginner gardener, you really need to know what to look for, because
there is a huge difference in quality and workmanship that goes into
When you buy gardening tools, you really do get what you pay for. Buy
quality and you will have them for several decades. Buy cheap garden
tools and you will be replacing them several times over. So it
pays to make a sound investment from the beginning. But what should you
be looking for in these tools, and how do you know that you are buying
What to Look for When Buying Essential Garden Tools?
Let's look at handles
first, as these are so important, from a comfort
level, as well as a durability level. You don't want blisters every time
you use them, nor do you want them to break soon after purchase.
So what do you look for in handles for garden tools? Well, the best
tools have handles that are comfortable to hold, especially if you are
holding it in a firm grip. A handle that has been forged as part of the
of the tool is better than one that has been added separately.
If you have a handle and shaft that are separate, check to see that all
the screws are present and it is firmly secured.
Finally, to check to see if the spade or fork is the right size for
you, place it on the ground. The top of the handle should come up to
Essential Garden Tools: What to Look for in the Garden Hoe
is definitely at the top of the list of essential garden tools. I
use my little hoe for so many things. I use it to dig small holes to
plant seedlings, I use it to take out weeds from the garden. I also use
it to break up
the soil before getting the fork in to dig down deeper.
My one regret
about the hoe that I bought is that it was made in two parts; the metal
blade, and the
wooden handle. Occasionally, I have to jump up and down onto the blade
to stop it from sliding back and forth along the pole as I use it.
Don't make the same
mistakes as I did. Buy a hoe that is either all in one, or one that has
some form of pinning the blade to the shaft.
The classic garden hoe has a broad, straight, 6-inch steel blade that’s
good for all types of gardening, including digging, weeding, chopping,
hilling, and cultivating. Longer, and narrower-bladed versions, such as
collinear hoe, are good for weeding in tight spots.
hoe is one piece of
gardening equipment that you want with a wooden handle. That
is because in hot weather, when hands can sweat, you want to be sure
that you will have a firm grip on it at all times.
Essential Garden Tools: What to Look for in a Garden Fork
There is no forking around here, the fork is essential to any garden.
There are two kinds of garden forks, the first is the large digging
fork, and the second is the cottage fork, which is much smaller.
matter what the size, garden forks are useful for getting right down
into the soil, with the larger digging fork to a depth of at least 10
inches, and can be used not only to turn the sods over before you
plant, but also can be used to turn your compost piles over and to lift
out those potatoes easily without putting a blade through them if you
were using a spade.
I also use a fork to separate large plants that I want to divide during
the year, such as dahlias or agapanthus. This does a far better
job than a spade.
Buy a fork that has the head forged from a single piece of steel and
have square tines with diamond points for strength and good penetration
of the soil. Tines that are V-shaped are also good.
What you don't want is a cheap garden fork where the central tines have
been welded on as an after thought. These will break over time. You
find with these types of garden forks, that the metal is just clamped
into place over the shaft. Again this is a weakness that will cause you
problems later on.
Essential Garden Tools: What to Look for in a Garden Spade
Now, we are talking, short handled, square bladed spades, not long
handled, heart-shape bladed shovels. You don't need a shovel. You will
hear some gardeners argue that a shovel is invaluable for scooping up
soil and compost, spreading fertilizer or manure, but I have never used
or needed one in all the 35 years I have been gardening, and am not
about to start now.
But a spade is useful. It is great to
get those straight edges on garden beds, good for chopping back grass,
for cutting open bags of potting soil, and for loading compost into
your soil, followed by forking it through.
you want to choose a spade with all the same qualities as the
garden forks. Handles, again should have a comfortable grip, whether
they are metal or wood. You can also get traditional spades made with a
Y-D handle that has been made by splitting the wood of the shaft into 2
and steam-moulding it. These are quite beautiful, and very elegant
Choose a spade or a shovel that has a single piece of metal attached to
a wooden handle with either a single socket or a single socket that
runs 1 foot up the handle (referred to as a solid-strap connection).
These models are heavier, but they’re much more durable.
You want a spade that has a cutting edge so that it will be able to get
through the sod or roots easily. The treads on top of the spade should
be wide enough so that you can place your foot on the spade and work it
downwards. A blade collar should encase the shaft and be firmly
Make sure that the spade head is directly in line with the
handle, because the spade is meant to be driven straight into the
ground. Once in the ground, you need the handle and the shaft to be
strong enough to withstand the force of the handle
being pulled towards you and levering the spade back and forth whilst
in the ground.
Spades are often seen in 2 blade sizes: the digging spade is about
29x30 cm and the smaller cottage spade has a blade of 23x15 cm. The
cottage spade is often used for creating good edges for flower beds,
but a digging, or garden spade will do the same job just as well.
Also when buying your spade make sure that it has blades that are made
of quality alloy steel or stainless steel if you
don't want them to rust years down the track. Steel
D-handle Square Garden Spade
Essential Garden Tools: What to look for in a Garden Rake
Now, there are 2 rakes
that you need to buy:
A garden or landscape
rake used for leveling soil when creating new
vegetable gardens or flower beds.
ii) A leaf rake or lawn
rake used for gathering up that fall bonus of leaves for
composting and making leaf mold, or lawn clippings.
The leaf rake
more often than
not has a plastic head that should have long tines that spring back a
the touch. You can find a leaf rake with metal tines, but these you
should be able to adjust the tension of, which is handy if you are
working with different materials or surfaces.
The landscape rake
is more robust because it allows you to push and
pull material around without bending the tines. Usually a garden rake
has metal tines, but if it doesn't the plastic tines will be very rigid
A 14-inch-diameter, iron-toothed rake should have a long, wooden handle
that’s securely attached to a metal head. You can flip the metal head
over to really smooth a seedbed flat. For a lightweight but less
durable version of an iron rake, try an aluminum rake.
Again check that the handles are good, that the shaft is good, and that
there are no splinters along the handle if it is a wooden handle. If you
are particularly tall person you may find that standard 4 ft (120cm)
handle too short. Buy a 6 ft (180cm) spare handle and then replace it
when you get home. The shorter handle can be used for a house broom.
Essential Garden Tools: What to Look for in Secateurs
or Pruning Shears
Secateurs or pruning shears
can be used for pruning of all garden shrubs, roses, fruit
trees, etc. And gardeners are rather partial to their secateurs, so
don't ask to borrow them, because the answer will be given unwillingly!
Pruning, however, is very repetitive, and therefore when you do invest
in some secateurs make sure that the grip is totally comfortable
otherwise you will end up with wrist and arm
strain. Look for handles
that grip firmly in the hand, won't slip out when wet
and opens and closes easily A good spring that closes the blades
quickly and can be replaced when
they finally give in.
Make sure that you have
quality blades that are sharp for a long time and when
blunt can be easily sharpened. Therefore look for removable blades to
be able to do this.
The locking mechanism
should be easy to operate. You want to be able to
open and lock the pruning shears with one hand.
Essential Garden Tools: What to Look for in a Wheelbarrow or Cart
When I was young and foolish
and thought that I could save myself some
money I bought a canvass wheelbarrow. In addition to the fact that it
was cheap, it was also light in weight, and I thought that it would be
the prefect addition to
my collection of essential garden tools. It wasn't. Instead it became a
pain in the neck.
Every time I filled it up, either with cuttings or compost and wanted to
tip it out in another location, the damn thing used to fold in on
itself quicker than a clam shell. In the end, I went out and bought
myself a real wheelbarrow.
You will find plastic wheelbarrows. Stay away from those too. Over time
the sun will get to them and the plastic will become brittle and
The only wheelbarrow or garden cart you should be
looking at is a metal one. Yes, it
rust over time, but it will take a heck of a long time to do so, as
opposed to all the rest. Pick it up in the shop making sure that it is
well balanced and that the handles feel comfortable.
Essential Mini Garden Tools: What to Look for in a Trowel and a
It is all very well having the large boys around to do the job, but a
small trowel and fork are essential too.
A hand trowel can be used for digging around
plants without worrying
about disturbing the roots, transplanting seedlings, planting out
window boxes and hanging baskets, repotting pot plants,
rooting out weeds, or even spreading small amounts of fertilizer around
The wider-bladed hand trowels, which are scoop shaped and rounded on
the end, are easier to use to loosen soil than the narrower-bladed,
These narrower blades are better for digging tough weeds, such as
A small hand fork can be used for cultivating pot plants or a small
garden area, loosening the soil and getting rid of weeds.
Make sure that your mini-garden tools have comfortable grips that feel
easy to use, and the tools feel well
balanced when you hold them.
You want a strong shaft with no screws sticking out which could injure
using them. and find the tools with the long or extendable handles that
will reduce the need for bending and
will save your back!
8) Essential Garden
Tools: The Hose Pipe
Without water your plants will die. It never seems to rain when you
need it, and so hand watering with a hose pipe is the only option. You
could water with a bucket or a watering can,
and I have done both, but it just takes too darn long, and
life is too short to spend 2 hours watering a garden
with a bucket when you can water it with a hosepipe in a fraction of
Of you want to get really fancy you can get
soaker hoses, or set up an
irrigation system, but a plain old hose pipe works just as well.
Your idea garden hose is a rubber one that won't kink and cut off the
water supply as will happen with the vinyl hoses. When I first moved on
to our current farm, I inherited a vinyl hose.
With one outside tap servicing both the vegetable garden on one side of
the house at the time, and the flower gardens on
the other side, watering every day in the summer became a nightmare.
Every time I watered the garden the hoses kinked leaving me standing
like an idiot with a hose in one hand and no water coming out the other
end. It was also heavy to drag around from one location to the other,
often snagging on roots and rocks, and
as a result lots of swearing could be heard across the valley on a hot
summers day. Believe me, you do not want a vinyl garden hose!
Whatever material you choose, be sure to get a hose that’s long enough
to reach all areas of your garden without having to spray water across
the flower beds to water plants at the back of
beds, or dragging the hose through the beds where you will end up
damaging the plants, especially if they are seedlings.
Have it fitted with a trigger spray for adjustable water output.
So, what to look out for when buying a garden hose?
Buy a rubber
garden hose that is long
enough to reach your flower beds and
veggie gardens. Also, buy one that has brass fittings and a
washer built into the hose.
This will make the hose pipe less likely to fail after prolonged use.
Essential Garden Tools: Watering Can
Watering cans can be made of simple, inexpensive,
plastic or high-end, fancy galvanized metal. Plastic is lighter, but
galvanized metal is rustproof and more attractive.
Watering cans also
come in different sizes, as you can see from the picture, so try a few
out for comfort before buying.
And buy the right watering can for the right purpose.
You should be able to easily remove the sprinkler head, or
cleaning. However, the rose should be screwed on, rather than clipped
on, as the water often escapes through the unsealed areas.
For watering tender seedlings, buy a can with an oval rose that points
upward and applies water with less pressure. The traditional round rose
is better for watering more mature plants. I prefer a galvanized watering can.
Essential Garden Tools: Knee Pads and Gardening Stools
you get to my age, comfort is everything! Now I have to confess,
that when I am kneeling on the ground, I have a hard time getting up!
It is not because I am that old, or
overweight, I am just not as supple as I used to be!
As a result I love my little canvass stool. I can sit on it and weed,
moving it from place to place as I use my little trowel. Not only that,
but it has pockets for my seeds, my mini gardening
tools, a bottle of water, etc.
Some of you however, are happy with knee pads, because you
do not make
an inelegant sprawl into the rose garden when you get off your knees.
They are loved by many gardeners, especially if
you have stony soil like I do!
Essential Garden Tools: Buckets
Buckets are ideal for carrying around small amounts of fertilizers,
potting soil, and even hand tools. A 5 gallon plastic bucket is the
For a more durable but smaller bucket, buy one made
from galvanized steel.
Essential Garden Tools: Baskets, Trugs or Hods
Our last essential garden tool on the list is the
humble basket, hod or
Wicker baskets, hods and wooden trugs are useful for transporting
flowers from your flower beds,
fruit from your orchards, or vegetables from your veggie gardens.
can certainly pack far more into a basket, hod, or trug than you would
in your arms. I have a
lovely handmade wicker basket that I use for all of the above,
including picking mushrooms during the mushroom season. I
wouldn't be without it!
So, get yourself a lovely basket, hod or trug to gather all that great
grow and harvest, invest in a wire or wicker basket.