Essential Gardening Tools

You don't need to spend a fortune when you start gardening, but a few basic tools are essential if you want to perform more than the smallest tasks.

Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything
  • Garden Fork is Versatile Lawn Tool

    Sturdy Garden Fork

    A beginner's kit should include a watering can, fork, spade, rake, trowel and a hand fork. Add to these as your interest increases, and the list of jobs you carry out diversifies. If you find yourself doing a particular task frequently, such as digging the vegetable patch, invest in one tool of particularly good quality to make the job easier and more pleasurable. A sturdy garden fork is an essential tool, ideal for digging heavy soil and aerating lawns.

  • Lightweight Garden Basket Eases Weeding and Moving Plants

    Lightweight Gardening Basket

    Buy a lightweight gardening basket for weeding and moving plants around the garden.

  • Prepare Land to Plant

    Digging, Planting and Harvesting

    If you are tall, invest in a long-handled shovel and fork, which will help prevent back injuries. Shovels are best for digging holes and trenches, and for shifting large quantities of soil; they cope better with light soils that fall through the prongs of a fork.

  • Hand Trowels


    Trowels are ideal for planting seedlings and filling pots with soil.

  • Removing Weeds With a Small Hand Fork.

    Hand Fork

    Use a hand fork for small planting jobs and removing weeds.

  • Use Rake to Level and Tamp Down Soil

    Standard Rake

    A standard rake is used to level seedbeds and tamp down soil; buy a spring-tined fork for removing moss from lawns.

  • Best Tool for the Job

    Pruning and Cutting

    The cutting tool you require depends on the thickness of the material you need to remove. There are lightweight clippers for cutting flowers and shaping fine topiary, heavier clippers for pruning stems of around pencil thickness, and loppers and pruning saws for larger branches. Choose the right pruning tool for the job because clippers may be damaged by material that is too thick, and a pruning saw will be too rough and unwieldy for small branches. Using the right pruner also makes the job much easier.

  • Cut Small Branches Using a Pruning Saw

    Coping with Larger Branches

    Large branches should be cut with a pruning saw, which has a curved blade to make sawing easier and fits into awkward spaces

  • Using a Watering Can to Soak Roots of Large Plants

    Watering Cans

    In summer, watering becomes the main task in the garden, and a basic watering can is fine if you have only a few containers or small garden. Fit a rose on the spout to sprinkle water on delicate seedlings or new plants after planting. Use a full watering can to soak the roots of new plantings and for large potted trees and shrubs.

  • Efficiently Water Plants with a Garden Sprayer Fitting

    Garden Hose

    In larger gardens, or if you have lots of pots, you may find it necessary to use a hose. Look for one with adjustable settings so that you can gently sprinkle water onto containers or spray established plants. You can also buy long-handled hoses for watering hanging baskets.

  • Hoe to Kill Weeds


    The most useful tool for weeding is a hoe, which you push along the surface of the soil to slice through the necks of weeds, where the stems meet the soil. Although hoeing kills annual weeds instantly, perennials chopped off in this way will survive and regrow. Weeds with tap roots, such as dandelions, are better dealt with using a weed grubber—a long pointed tool that penetrates deep into the soil. Use a spade or trowel to tackle perennials without tap roots, such as dock.

  • Weed Grubber Levers Tap Roots

    Dealing With Deep Roots

    A weed grubber can lever tap roots out of the soil, preventing regrowth.

  • Pruning Tool Cleaning

    Cleaning and Caring

    Clean your tools regularly to keep them in good condition. Oil clippers every few months to prevent them from rusting and check that the blades are tight so they cut efficiently. Brush soil from spades and forks regularly, and apply oil to the blades and prongs once or twice a year to deter rust. Before trimming or pruning a plant, help to prevent the buildup of plant diseases, such as box blight, by cleaning your cutting tools, including saws and clippers, with household disinfectant.

  • Use Brush to Clean Tools

    Oiling Spades

    At the end of the season, clean and oil spades to prevent rust.

  • Cleaning Your Pruning Saw

    Wiping Pruning Saws

    Wipe pruning saws with a soft cloth and oil them.

Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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