While it is easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest garden tools, there is a reason why a few standard tools have stood the test of time. That reason is because they have been proven to work efficiently in the garden. In many gardens, there is no need to go beyond a few essential tools used for gardening.
Whether you are starting your first garden or looking for a refresher on the essential garden tools, here are the 11 must-have garden tools.
11 Essential Tools Used for Gardening
The spading garden fork is often overlooked for its importance in the garden. Its heavy-duty tines and short overall length make it ideal for for turning, digging, and aerating soil while also being easy to maneuver. The spading fork is different from the longer pitchfork, which is used for moving material such as mulch, straw, and hay.
Spade and Shovel
The spade and shovel are tools that often get confused. We completed an article on the difference between the two (read: spade vs shovel) if you are interested in learning more.
In summary, a shovel is best used for scooping and transporting soil from one location to the next. A spade with its flat, sharp blade is designed for such tasks as digging, edging, and cutting through roots.
If you are debating on whether to get a spade or shovel, consider purchasing a hybrid spade/shovel. The highly rated Spear Head Spade on Amazon is an excellent choice for not only digging but also for separating perennials and cutting into tough soil or turf.
One of most favorite tools used for gardening is the soil knife because of its versatility. It can be used as a trowel, knife, twine cutter, weeder, and more. We recommended the A.M. Leonard Deluxe Soil Knife which features serrated and tapered edges, a durable stainless steel blade, and a lifetime warranty. View the below video to see this soil knife in action.
A wheelbarrow takes up a lot of space and is used only occasionally by most gardeners. However, it is an enormous time and energy saver when hauling material to and from the garden. Additionally, it is useful outside of the garden for task such as mixing concrete or moving mulch into the landscape.
Check out our article on the best wheelbarrows under $100 if you are looking for a quality wheelbarrow that is also budget-friendly. We prefer steel tray wheelbarrows for their ability to take a beating. However, plastic tray wheelbarrows are generally useful for people looking for a lighter weight to haul around.
Water irrigation is essential to a growing a healthy a garden. Unfortunately, there are many hoses out there that can make watering an unpleasant task due to kinking, leaks, and other problems.
We recommend purchasing a commercial or heavy-duty hose that is known to last. You will pay a bit extra for this type of hose, but it worth not dealing with the headaches that come with cheaper hoses. The Flexzilla Garden Hose is an example of a high-quality hose that will not kink and is built with leak free connections.
Garden hoses typically range in length from 10 to 100 feet. A measurement from the outdoor faucet spigot to the farthest area you want to reach should be calculated before purchase.
Shears are an essential tool used for gardening because there will undoubtedly come a time where plants need to be pruned or clipped. A pair of anvil or bypass shears work great for pruning plants such as rose bushes, small plant branches, and vegetables.
Bypass pruners work best for clean cuts on plants you wish to keep alive. Anvil shears provide an efficient but rougher cut compared to the bypass shears. They are best for trimming down plants that are already dead.
Check out our picks for the best pruning shears that may be ideal for your garden.
Credit: Dvortygirl – CC BY-SA 3.0,
Lopping shears are useful for cutting branches that pruning shears cannot handle. Generally, they can cut a branch thickness from 1.5 to 2 inches. The longer handles allow the user to reach hard to access areas while also providing leverage. Similar to the pruning shears, the common types of lopping shears are anvil and bypass. The disadvantage of using these shears is that both hands are required to operate the tool.
The hand trowel is a must-have in almost any garden, especially for the purpose of transplanting plants from one location to another. It is also an efficient tool for digging and weeding.
A traditional large rake that you might use for lawn debris cleanup is impractical for use in most home gardens where plants can easily be uprooted or damaged. A hand rake is a much better option for maneuvering around tight spaces. These rakes are manufactured in are variety of styles including flexible, lightweight tines for debris cleanup and stiff, thick tines for cultivating or turning the soil.
There a few dozen different types of garden hoes available. Take a look at easydigging.com for an overview of these numerous hoes. However, the most popular and maybe iconic hoe is the draw hoe. A draw hoe works best for scraping the top layer of soil to loosen it and to pull small weeds.
The garden can often be an unfriendly place for the hands. Garden gloves not only keep the hands clean but they help protect them from injury.
A good pair of gloves will allow the hands to move with limited restrictions. They also will not easily puncture. The gloves should keep the hands dry while also being breathable.
Gloves with wrist and arm protection should be considered when working in challenging areas. We recommend these Magid Glove & Safety Long Forearm Gloves from Amazon. They are not only puncture-resistant but also provide ample protection on the arms.
Bonus – Garden Tool Bag
A garden tool bag is a great way to organize your garden tools so that they are easy to find and grab when needed. The bag makes carrying and storing garden tools a convenient task. We suggest a garden tool bag for people who have built up their tool arsenal beyond a couple of basics.