Last Updated on 13/07/2023 by Barney
With so many gardening tools on the market, it can be hard to know which ones needed for various gardening tasks. But don’t worry, I’m here to share my knowledge!
In this article I will discuss the essential gardening tools that every gardener should have in their arsenal. From garden trowels to wheelbarrows, I’ve got you covered! Read on to find the right tools to get started in gardening today!
Combined, we have been gardening professionally for nearly 40 years and have been through our fair share of gardening tools. Some we find to be invaluable, other tools ‘just why did I ever think I needed that?’
Having the right gardening tools can make all the difference. Allowing you to maximise your time planting, pruning & performing those maintenance tasks that come with owning a garden and keeping it looking beautiful .
Just starting out in the world of gardening or a seasoned pro ? Here are my best gardening tools that are always found in my gardening trug.
#1. Gardening tools for cutting & pruning
Garden Shears & Pruners
Gardening shears is an all-encompassing term used for the description of these important gardening tools. Within this category of gardening tools you have secateurs (pruning shears), hedge shears, lawn shears, topiary shears, and and something else.
Secateurs are used for the pruning of plants, climbers, shrubs, and light tree work.
Don’t expect pruning to be a pleasure without a decent set of secateurs, otherwise known as pruners. A cheap pair with rubbish blades will leave you frustrated. Believe me, I have thrown many across the garden in a temper tantrum.
There are 2 different types of secateur .
The bypass secateur is the most popular type of garden tool used for the pruning of plants, shrubs and climbing plants.
A bit like scissors, bypass secateurs have a sharp blade that passes an anvil to create a clean cut through plant material.
Secateurs are available for small and large handed gardeners, left-handed secateurs and for gardeners with problems such as arthritis & weak hands. It is worth spending some time in researching the best secateurs for your hand type for comfortable pruning.
Brands to look out for are from garden tools suppliers Fiskars, Felco, Gardena and Okatsune.
Fiskars & Felco have all hand types catered for in their ranged. Be in left handed, small-large handed and secateurs for arthritic hands.
One advantage of buying the best secateurs for your budget is in the blade. When pruning, sharp blades = healthy plants. Blades that are strong and stay sharp are only found on quality secateurs.
As a professional gardener I use Felco hand pruners as they have a very sharp blade & are a real work horse.
One of the great features of the Felco secateurs range is that spares are readily available for them . Mine are 20 years old. They have only required a new blade and spring in the entire time and they still have a long way to go.
- Anvil secateurs
Unlike bypass secateurs, anvil secateurs have one straight cutting blade that comes down on a flat anvil creating a cutting &crushing effect. This design is easier to use when cutting thicker branches as the anvil provides extra support allowing more force to be asserted .
Anvil secateurs are not an essential gardening tool, especially if you are just setting out. Think about getting a pair if you find yourself needing to do a lot of shrub and tree work where the cutting out of dead branches is needed.
They can be particularly useful when clearing large brambles as anvil secateurs are more suited at cutting thicker and dead branches.
The clue is in the name but hedge shears can also be used for shaping shrubs and cutting down ornamental grasses in late winter.
Hedge shears come in a variety of sizes with telescopic versions available for getting to those hard to reach places. This is useful for not having to resort to a step ladder or over extending yourself over a wide hedge.
Lawn Edging Shears
For the perfect-looking lawn you’ll need lawn edging shears. Using an edging shear before or after mowing really defines the lawn and gives that cared-for, neat, professional look.
They come in different sizes and shapes. From hand-held to taller versions to use whilst standing. The standing versions are ideal for larger lawns and the small hand-held shears are great at tidying up long grass around steps, washing line poles and any other obstacles.
A tree pruner is an essential tool for any gardener if you have tall hedges & trees. A long handled tree pruner allows you to reach those higher branches with ease, and the telescopic feature means you can adjust the length of the pole to suit the cutting height.
There are a few things to consider when choosing a tree pruner. Firstly, think about the size of the branches you need to cut – a smaller cutting diameter is fine for thinner branches, but you’ll need a larger cutting diameter version for thicker branches.
Secondly, consider the type of handle you want – some tree pruners have extendable handles which can be handy if you’re taller or have long arms. Finally, think about the blade – you’ll want a sharp blade that can make clean cuts through branches.
Look out for the multi-change telescopic tree pruner. The heads on these models are interchangeable with branch saws. This allows for the cutting of much larger branches.
Loppers are one of the most important tools for gardening, and yet they are often overlooked. Loppers are essentially long-handled secateurs that can be used to trim branches up to two inches in diameter.
They are available in both anvil and bypass models, but bypass loppers are generally considered more versatile since they can be used on both thick and thin branches. That being said anvil loppers are the preferred choice if needing to remove overgrown bramble patches.
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a pair of loppers.
First, consider the size of the handles. If you have small hands, you may want to choose a pair with smaller handles. Second, think about the type of blades you need. Anvil loppers are best for cutting through thick branches, while bypass loppers are better for thinner branches. Finally, make sure to choose a pair that is comfortable for you to use.
With the right pair of loppers, you can easily trim branches and keep your garden looking neat and tidy. Be sure to add a pair of loppers to your gardening toolkit today!
#2. Digging & Working with the Soil
Forks & Spades
Garden forks and spades are essential when improving soil quality, moving perennial plants around the garden and for removing perennial weeds.
Within this range gardening tools there are different options.
A hand fork is essential when working in garden beds & weeding between plants and vegetables.
Handles are either be made from composite plastic or traditional wooden style . The tines (the pointy forky bits) are usually made from coated or stainless Steel
In our experience a stainless steel fork is easier to work with on heavy clay soils when removing weeds. Handles can be a matter of preference, I happen to prefer a traditional wooden handle.
When I mentioned above about tools not to own, a totally plastic fork is on that list (yes, you can buy them) and they are about as much use as a chocolate teapot.
Garden Border Fork
Usually about 1 m in length a border fork is used for working in between plants when improving soil with compost, transplanting plants or digging over the soil.
A border fork is also handy for removing deeply rooted perennial weeds where you need to remove the entire root.
If working on a clay soil I find a the smaller border fork easier to handle than a digging fork owing to its smaller head size. Digging over a clay soil with a larger digging fork can be back breaking.
Border forks can have stainless steel or coated steel forks with wooden or metal shafts.
Garden Digging forks
As the name suggests this type of forks primary purpose is the digging and working of soil. They are particularly useful for breaking up dense soil to incorporate organic matter and moving perennial plants.
The difference between a digging fork and a border fork is the size of the head. A digging fork has a wider head allowing you to work a larger quantity of soil at a time. A border fork, with its small head is more at home when moving perennial plants around in the dormant season.
Digging forks can be made from coated Steel or stainless steel with traditional wood, steel or lightweight aluminium.
My personal preference for heavy-duty work is a coated Steel garden fork with a solid steel handle. I have found stainless steel forks tend to bend and not really suited for heavy graft.
Unless you grow potatoes this is not a gardening tools essential.
If you do grow potatoes and like me, fed up with damaging your harvest when digging up with a garden fork then a potato fork makes harvest time a real joy.
Garden spades come into their own when moving or cultivating soil.
A garden spade is best when improving and cultivating a heavy clay soil and I recommend one with a stainless steel head for this purpose.
Smaller border spades are useful for planting (see transplanting spade below)
#3. Gardening Gloves
Soil has an incredible drying affect of the skin, not to mention many plant saps are an irritant when in contact with bare skin. Avoid cracked and sore hands with a quality pair of gardening gloves.
There are a multitude of gardening gloves available. Women’s, men’s, waterproof, thornproof and even long sleeved gauntlets for attacking bramble bushes etc.
Gardening in winter? No problem, keep your hands warm and dry with thermally insulated gloves.
Gardening gloves should definitely be on your gardening tools list.
#4 Garden Hand Trowels
Think of a hand trowel as a mini shovel. This handheld tool is great for breaking up soil, planting bulbs and small bedding plants, weeding and transplanting, a very useful garden tool.
Hand trowels come in many shapes and sizes. Find one that is comfortable for you to use.
I find a hand trowel especially useful when transplanting bedding plants and planting containers up
#5. Garden Tools for Planting
Garden dibbers are a really handy tool to own if you want to get into gardening. They’re great for creating small holes for planting seeds and small plants, they also make it easy to create neat rows or patterns.
Either solid wood or with wooded handle and stainless steel tip. Watch out for versions that have handy measurement guides printed on the dibber. This takes the guesswork out of planting depths for seeds and vegetable sets such as when growing garlic & planting onion sets . You can usually pick one up from most garden centres or online retailers.
If you’re not sure what a dibber is, it’s basically a pointed stick that has a handle. You use it to create holes in the ground, which you then drop your seeds or plants into. Some dibbers have measurements on them, so you can ensure that your seeds & plants are planted to the right depth.
I find a dibber is also an invaluable tool for planting onion and garlic sets.
When faced with many bulbs to plant then a bulb planter is an excellent tool to have. This will make light work of planting bulbs and help you to get them in the ground quickly. The bulb planter will take the guesswork out of bulb planting depth and spacing and create the right sized planting holes, meaning that your bulbs are more likely to thrive.
There are many different types available , so it is important to choose one that is suitable for the type of bulb that you are planting. If you are unsure, then ask for advice at your local garden center.
You will only need to use once a year but definitely a garden tool worth owning.
Whilst planting can be done with a regular spade it is far easier to use a transplanting spade when planting shrubs and perennials.
A planting spade, or transplanting spade as they are known has a head that goes to a narrow point. This creates less soil resistance meaning easier digging.
What I really love about planting spades is you do not end up with a huge hole just to plant a 2 litre plant.
#6. Tools to make weeding easier
When it comes to keeping on top of annual weeds then a garden hoe is an efficient tool & an absolute must. Used regularly, before annual weeds get to set seed will keep your flower beds and vegetable garden looking their best.
There are different types of hoe however they all work in the same way by cutting off the weed just below the soil level.
The most popular type of garden hoe is the Dutch Hoe. It has a narrow blade attached to long handle and is used in a push pull fashion just under the soil surface to detach the weed from its roots .
This might take some practise but you’ll soon been whipping around your garden beds with ease.
Give one a go before resulting to harmful weed killers, you’ll be surprised of the results with little effort
If you want that perfect lawn without resulting in harmful weeding chemicals then a daisy grubber is the weeding tool for you.
This weeder works by loosening the soil around weeds so you can then pull them out easily by hand. The U-shaped blade of the daisy grubber goes deep under the weed to remove its taproot, preventing it from growing back. You can use a daisy grubber on all types of lawns, utility or ornamental.
Despite its name a Daisy Grubber works not only on daisies but all tap-rooted weeds in the lawn
Get rid of those pesky lawn weeds for good with a daisy grubber gardening tool!
Some what new to garden tools are weed pullers.
These nifty little gadgets are perfect for removing lawn weeds without getting on your hands and knees!
There are a few variations available however they operate in pretty much the same fashion.
A typical weed puller has 3 claws which are pushed into the lawn. These claws are then closed around the weed allowing you to pull it out in one action.
When using one I recommend using it after rain as it makes it easier to remove the long tap roots of deep rooted weeds such as dandelions.
Hand forks are great for weeding perennial weeds around plants. Using a hoe can be unsuitable when perennials are closely planted as there is the risk of being a bit gung-ho and severing off the plants at soil level.
I find hand forks are especially useful when vegetable gardening especially when growing garlic as these need to be gently prized from the ground come harvest time.
Garden Hose with Adjustable Nozzle
Anything larger than a tiny garden where watering cans will suffice then you will need garden hose on your gardening tools list.
Whether a standalone reel unit, wall mounted version or one of new expandable hoses that remind me of a bungee rope, a garden hose is invaluable for keeping your plants and lawn alive during hot summer months.
There are 2 accessories I recommend buying for a garden hose.
Firstly, for watering plants and borders an attachment with an adjustable nozzle to control to force and spray pattern of the water.
Secondly, a lawn sprinkler attachment . Lawns take time to water correctly and unless for have time to kill then positioning a lawn sprinkler on the lawn can free your time up to do other things.
When looking for lawn sprinklers its a good idea to check the spray radius. Looks out for ones with a spray radius that matches your lawn size or one that is adjustable, this is handy for smaller lawns.
In a world where we have to be mindful of wasting water a watering wand will cut down on your water use by allowing you to water plants where needed, at the base of the plant.
A watering wand is especi
ally useful for precision watering on raised beds, vegetable gardens and tall, hard to reach displays such as hanging baskets .
#8. Lawn Mowers
If you have a lawn, you will need a lawn mower.
With so many to choose from it is important to do your research and pick one that suits you and your lawn.
Things to look for when buying a lawn mower
- Is it from a reputable garden tools & machinery brand?
- Adjustable cutting height?
- Suited for your lawn size. Most manufacturers will state this on their sales literature
- Petrol, petrol powered, electric cable, rechargeable battery or robotic lawn mowers?
- Grass collection box size.
Which ever style of lawn mower you choose always ensure you have the blade sharpened once year. A blunt lawn mower blade damages the grass and will not give the clean, freshly cut look us gardeners all crave.
So, when it comes to gardening tools, don’t forget the rake! It is a versatile tool that no gardener should be without.
Whether the need to clean up grass clippings or Autumn leaves a rake is a must-have for any gardener. Rakes come in different sizes, shapes and with various numbers of tines but the basic rake will have a long handle with metal tines at one end.
The rake can also be used to loosen or aerate the soil in garden beds as well as to create furrows for planting.
A rake is also handy for gathering up leaves and debris from around the garden and lawn area and makes light work of what would otherwise be a back breaking task.
Every garden tools list should include a soil rake. This rake is useful for leveling soil, removing stones and debris, breaking up clumps of dirt & tidying up borders after hoeing.
You can also use it to create furrows for planting seeds. The soil rake is a versatile tool that no gardener should be without.
Part of maintaining a healthy lawn is the yearly removal of moss & any thatch build up.
Lawn rakes differ from soil & leaf rakes as they have steel tines that when firmly brushed over the lawns surface remove moss & debris
If you have a large lawn it might be worth considering a scarifier for this task as they are much better at covering large areas with less effort.
Whilst you can use a lawn rake in sweeping up those autumn leaves a leaf rake is a far better garden tool for this.
A leaf rake should be light weight and with a large head allowing you to easily cover large areas quickly.
#10. Accessories & tools to keep your garden tidy.
Battery Leaf Blower
Why make life difficult for yourself when there are battery-powered leaf blowers that can make light work of a big job? Owning one will save you time and energy when it comes to clearing leaves, dust and debris from your garden, patio & driveway.
There are many battery leaf blowers on the market, so it’s important to choose one that is right for you. Consider the size of the area you need to clear and how often you will be using the leaf blower. Battery life is also an important factor to consider as well as the charging time.
A battery-operated leaf blower makes short work of leaves on patios, driveways, walkways and decks without up setting your neighbours with a gas emitting, noisy petrol version.
Large brush & pan
When clearing up patios and drives a heavy duty dust pan and brush should be in your gardener’s arsenal of tools.
Whether it’s clearing soil & compost when planting up planters or sodden clumps of leaves a heavy duty pan & brush will not snap on you, unlike the household versions.
Heavy duty green waste bags
It is frustrating, and wasteful to be constantly going through not fit for purpose plastic bags when moving garden waste to your compost bin, council recycling bin or taking green waste to the dump.
Investing in a few decent heavy duty garden waste bags will keep you going for years.
#11. Pump Action Sprayer
A pump action sprayer has many uses in the garden. From feeding plants to getting rid of weeds, a pump action sprayer is a versatile tool that every gardener should have.
A pump action sprayer is used to apply foliar feed to struggling plants & liquid lawn feeds.
A pump action sprayer is also useful when disinfecting the greenhouse.
#12. Lawn Edging Tool
Crisp, clean edges make all the difference to how the lawn looks.
These are manual tools and are simple to use. Quickly create neat edges either by eye or with a string guide between two points.
Lawn edging tools are also known as half-moon edgers.