Best Garden Tools For Every Gardener

Stock your shed with basic gardening tools to make yard maintenance a breeze. Check out this list of the best must-have garden tools for every gardener.

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Photo By: Gardener’s Supply Co. at

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By:

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: Gardener’s Supply Co. at

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By:

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Wheelbarrows and Garden Carts

Whether you’re tending traditional shrub and tree foundation plantings or your version of a Victory Garden vegetable patch, one of the most essential garden tools is a wheelbarrow or garden cart. This two wheel wheelbarrow updates the classic single-wheel version with a no-tip design that’s still a breeze to maneuver. The polyethylene tub never rusts, no matter what you let sit in it for however long. In addition to a wheeled cart, invest in basic buckets, trugs or tip bags. When you garden, you can’t have enough containers to carry things like soil amendments, water, gardening tools, prunings or harvest. Food grade buckets are often free for the asking from bakeries, donut shops and restaurants.

Garden Trowels

Digging is at the heart of gardening, and one of the quickest ways to tuck seedlings into soil is with a hand trowel. Look for trowels with an ergonomic design to lessen hand and wrist fatigue. Trowel blades with inch markings take the guesswork out of proper planting depth. Trowels that feature a seamless handle-blade design won’t break or fall apart. Other hand tools worth considering are a short handled pick mattock (for rocky soil); a Korean hand plow (often sold as a ho-mi and one of the most versatile garden tools ever conceived); and a sturdy weeder (cobra head type works like a gem).

Garden Gloves

Consider your own comfort as you garden, and invest a good pair of gloves. Nitrile coated gloves wash and wear well (toss in washer, air dry in a few hours) and come closest to bare-hand gardening. Top-quality nitrile gloves allow you to feel stems in your fingertips. Search to find a brand you love, then buy a few in multiple colors. Leather gloves are a must for cold- or wet-weather gardening, as well as dealing with roses or other thorny plants. Other comfort-focused garden tools you’ll grab again and again include a broad-brimmed hat to keep you cool, waterproof boots and shoes, and knee or kneeling pads.

Hand Pruners And Loppers

Cutting tools are vital to successful gardening. Start with the dynamic duo of hand pruners or shears and loppers. Hand pruners are the garden tool of choice for stems up to ¾ inches thick. It’s a go-to garden tool for deadheading or pruning perennials, trimming new growth on shrubs and snipping thick pepper and squash stems. With hand pruners and loppers, a bypass blade design (blades work like scissors) give you more cuts and versatility in the garden. Also invest in a sharpening tool of some type, along with lessons on use. Clean and sharpen cutting blades regularly to keep them in tiptop shape. Last but not least, pick up a good pair of sturdy scissors (bright handles are preferable—helps in not losing them in the yard). You’ll grab those for snipping twine, herbs, flowers for bouquets, greens and a host of other items.

PowerGear Loppers

For pruning branches over ¾ inches thick, you’re going to need a pair of loppers. These cutting tools come in handy for pruning shrubs, trees, roses, tall perennials with woody stems and even full-size sunflowers. If you’re investing in loppers, select bypass cutting blades (not anvil), and multiply your cutting strength up to three times with Fiskars PowerGear brand. The gears in this cutting design let you cut through branches far beyond your natural strength. Look for loppers with extendable handles to increase your reach. Loppers will handle most cutting jobs, but at some point you may need to expand your garden tool base to include a pruning saw and, for out-of-reach limbs, a pole saw.

Plant Dividing Tools

Sharp blades are vital to successful gardening, whether they come in a pair (pruners) or as single blades, like these tools. The large gardening tool is a perennial divider. The heart-shape blade slices through the center of perennials like pudding, and the short handle provides enough space to get some real oomph behind the effort. It also makes quick work of edging a small bed. The big knife (sold as Fiskars Big Grip Knife) makes quick work of weeding, seed planting, dividing small plants and digging holes for bedding plants. A similar tool is the Japanese hori-hori knife (which can easily take the place of a trowel). While these types of bladed garden tools are somewhat specialized, their versatility in the garden makes them worth the investment.

Watering Gear

Getting water to plants is one of the top tasks you’ll tackle. If you grow any container gardens, watering is a daily event in the heat of summer. Invest in a quality hose that’s guaranteed for life, along with some kind of easy-to-use hose storage. Include a hose end watering wand, nozzle with multiple patterns and watering can with a detachable rose (the nozzle part that turns a water stream into a shower). For planting beds and large gardens, choose a sprinkler, or invest in drip irrigation. Last but not least, when buying a hose, pick up a pack of flat washers that fit your hose. Replace washers inside hose ends annually, at the start of every gardening season, to reduce drips and wasted water.

Garden Forks

Garden forks may or may not be must-have garden tools for you, depending on what your grow and how you garden. The digging fork is shorter and has thicker, straight tines. It’s used for digging things like potatoes, garlic, yams, canna rhizomes or dahlia tubers. It allows you to loosen and lift soil while (hopefully) not stabbing the item you’re digging. A curved manure or pitchfork is the handiest tool for moving a bulk delivery of shredded bark mulch. No other tool grabs and lifts mulch quite as easily as a pitchfork. On either of these forks, more tines equates to a heavier tool weight and lifting a heavier load.

Leaf Rakes

A leaf rake comes in handy for moving leaves, pine cones, fallen fruit and other tree-related items. Look for an ergonomic design that makes the task an easy extension of natural body movements. Choose a wide head with springy tines to make quick work of cleaning large areas. For raking leaves from around shrubs, select a rake with a small head and shorter handle. Use a lawn rake with thin tines to gather grass clippings or clean up the lawn after winter. A bow rake is handy for soil prep in vegetable gardens and new beds, as well as raking gravel areas. A small hand rake earns its keep if you have planting beds beneath trees. Its widely spaced tines let you remove leaves without damaging plants.

Shovels and Spades

Shovels and spades are essential tools for any kind of garden. They’re handy for planting and moving items like stones and compost. Technically, a shovel is a scoop (center, above), while a spade is used for digging (outer edges, above). As you stock your tool shed, invest in garden tools with blades that won’t rust (stainless or carbon steel), and look for designs that feature a head and handle socket that’s hand-forged from a single piece of metal. Tool handle material varies. Wood handles absorb more vibration than fiberglass, but choose one that offers a weight you can easily lift and carry. Small spades, like a drain digging spade or this small contractor’s spade (left, above) are handy for digging around established plants, in places where a full-size shovel head won’t fit.

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