Starting a garden requires more than just a few plants, so you’ll need some basic tools to help maintain and expand your outdoor space. These tools are must-haves for all new gardeners, whether container-only or planting quote annuals and perennials.
5 Must-Have Gardening Tools
A trowel is a hand tool essential for digging small holes, transplanting seedlings, and uprooting weeds. We recommend a quality, lightweight model.
Every grower needs effective, safe, and comfortable gardening tools stores like Home Depot provide, from novice home gardeners to landscape designers. The right gear makes all the difference in cultivating an attractive indoor houseplant collection or bountiful front-door garden.
A rake is one of the most versatile tools in any garden. A good-quality rake will get the job done if you need to level soil or clear leaves and debris. A bow rake has sharp tines that penetrate deep into the ground to uproot weeds and spread mulch or compost. It’s also helpful for removing large clumps of leaves.
Hand rakes are scaled-down versions of full-sized rakes and are ideal for fine work like tilling the soil or pulling weeds in flowerbeds. They are also suitable for breaking up the ground in pots and containers before you plant them. Look for a garden trowel with a heavy-duty, unbreakable handle for precise digging.
This ergonomically designed tool comes in a set with three other essential handhelds: a digging fork, which helps loosen compacted soil and aerate small areas, and a transplanting trowel, which can dig holes to precise depths when working with young plants.
If there’s one tool that every gardener needs, no matter their experience level, it’s a simple hand trowel. It’s ideal for planting bulbs and small plants, digging holes, and pulling weeds. Plus, you can use it for tasks like loosening soil, raking and smoothing, or removing thatch and moss from your lawn.
Another must-have is a billhook saw, designed for trimming vines, severing roots, and cutting branches. It’s also an excellent tool for chopping and thinning perennials.
Lastly, consider getting a gardening shovel with a rounded blade for gardening jobs that require digging larger holes and transplanting. It's an excellent choice for working with clay soils or having limited space to garden. A good quality shovel is made of rust-proof steel, and its ergonomic handle provides comfortable use for long periods. Using this tool can help prevent wrist strain and other injuries when gardening.
As gardeners become more seasoned, their tool collection tends to grow. While beginners usually start with just a spade, trowel, and pruners, more experienced gardeners find that other gardening tools can make their job much more manageable.
For example, a fork is perfect for digging into dense or compacted soil. It can break the thick clumps of dirt, making weeds more accessible to pull and stir up your compost.
Many gardening forks are on the market, from heavy-duty digging to lightweight border forks. While a border fork might look less impressive than a digging fork, it can help you with almost all of the same tasks. These gardening forks are lighter, which can reduce back strain, and they have a narrower head to allow you to reach into tight spaces. This makes them the ideal tool for weeding, and they can be handy when you need to lift large perennial clumps from cramped borders.
There’s no better tool for loosening soil in the spring garden than a broad fork. This heavy-duty, hand-operated tool, sometimes called a U-fork or grelinette, is designed to break up densely packed garden soil (like a hardpan) to improve aeration and drainage.
It consists of a series of metallic tines arranged in shape on a horizontal bar with two handles that extend to chest height. You can use it to dig beds, incorporate organic matter, or even pull up weeds, but its primary purpose is to aerate the soil deeply.
Loosening the soil instead of flipping it over like a tiller allows you to preserve the soil’s natural layers and their associated microorganisms, which helps maintain healthy plant roots while improving soil structure, water infiltration, and general quality.
And unlike rototillers requiring gas, oil, and regular maintenance, a broad fork is relatively easy on the back and arms. Moreover, you don’t have to wait for a dry spell to work the soil with one, so you can get your gardens into production sooner.
Whether you’re a beginner or a self-sufficient homesteader, the basics are the same: gardening gloves, a bladed tool for pruning, and something to move dirt around. The best gardening tools are lightweight but sturdy and can perform multiple functions.
Miller suggests this anvil pruner for cutting woody stems and bushes because it reduces stress on hands and wrists with its cushioned shock absorber and flat lower jaw that lets you cut undergrowth without bending. The blade is replaceable, and the bolt and nut allow you to align the cutting edge for maximum efficiency.
Another multitasking essential is this soil knife that Blackmore says cuts through roots to remove weeds and dig holes for planting. It’s also helpful for severing vines and coarse ornamental grasses. It even has a notch for cutting twine, but you should always wear gardening gloves.