Gardening tools are essential not only for your safety and comfort but also for productivity. With the right tools in hand, you’ll be able to work more efficiently and effectively, yielding bigger and healthier harvests.
What’s more, the ease and peace of mind they provide will allow you to reap all of gardening’s physical and psychological health benefits.
As you move through this checklist of essential gardening tools, keep in mind that different products offer a wide selection of features, as well as varying degrees of quality.
How tall are you? Can you kneel to work? How large is your garden?
These are just a few questions to ask yourself as you move through all your options.
1. Gardening Gloves
A good pair of gardening gloves will protect your hands from a number of hazards, including thorns, chemicals, and adverse weather conditions. They’ll also keep your hands and nails clean.
Choose gloves based on the task you’ll be performing — for instance, pruning roses and planting seeds make for two very different gardening experiences.
So, if you’re an avid gardener, you’ll want to have different pairs of gloves to tackle various jobs.
2. Pruning Shears
This handy gardening tool will prove invaluable for cutting smaller vines and branches. Even vegetable gardeners like to use pruning shears to harvest tomatoes, peppers, melons and other yields that don’t easily pop off the vine.
When choosing your pruning shears, make sure the grips are comfortable and the blades are sharp.
It takes just a few minutes to sharpen shears with grinders, files or sharpening stones. You just need to disassemble the tool, clean it, sharpen it, reassemble it, and clean the assembled tool for optimal performance.
And once you start using pruning shears, you might be surprised at how many miles you put on these handy little devices!
3. Garden Hose
Your plants will need water — and unless you plan on hauling it in buckets, you’ll need a hose that reaches the farthest end of your garden.
Some plants, particularly perennials, don’t thrive with wet foliage, so you’ll also want a soaker hose, which slowly releases water so it soaks deeply into the soil.
Best of all? You can hide a soaker hose beneath your mulch and set it with a timer to turn on and off as needed.
Chances are you’ll need to move dirt, clippings, compost, rocks — and the tools listed in this article. A wheelbarrow (or a garden cart or sled) will come in handy. Choose one that feels sturdy and balanced.
• Replace the wheelbarrow’s tire with a solid, universal tire that’s not inflated with air and can never go flat.
• Before you load up a wheelbarrow, point it toward the direction of travel. This will prevent you from pivoting with a heavy load
5. Garden Shears
Lawn/shrub/garden shears, which are larger than pruning shears, are designed to trim shrubs and cut larger vines and branches. Choose a model that’s sturdy, yet light enough to be ergonomic.
Whether you’re digging out old shrubs, root balls or rocks, transplanting seedlings or filling a bed with soil or mulch, you’ll need a shovel or spade.
Choose one with a sharp edge, comfortable handle and a shaft that’s the right height for you.
7. Hand Trowel
This is much like a shovel, but it’s small enough to fit in one hand. Select a hand trowel that feels good in your grip, with a steady blade that won’t bend. Then use it to carve out holes for small plants, dig up weeds and extract plants for overwintering.
8. Garden Rake
Whether you need to smooth out soil after it’s been tilled, comb rocks from the dirt or level out mulch, a garden rake with metal tines is a necessity.
You may need multiple rakes, depending on your lawn and garden’s needs. The three most common options are bow, leaf and shrub rakes.
Bow rakes help with smoothing out soil in a garden; leaf rakes are perfect for gathering leaves or pine straw; and small shrub rakes come in handy for placing mulch in tight spaces.
Pro Tip: Rake leaves fast with a tarp and two wooden dowels that make it easy to transport piles of leaves to a garbage can.
9. Garden Hoe
When it’s time to create furrows, plant seeds, mound up soil and dig weeds or root vegetables, a garden hoe is the tool you’ll need.
Choosing the right garden hoe will require a bit of research. If eliminating weeds is at the top of your list, a scuffle hoe, swoe or serpentine hoe might be the best choice.
For planting seeds, go with a warren hoe; and for tougher jobs that require more earth-moving, the draw hoe will be your multi-purpose friend.
10. Garden Fork
This tool is great for breaking up compacted soil. Choose a garden fork with sturdy tines that won’t bend if you hit a rock. If you plan to move mulch or compost, pick one with curved tines so you can use it as a shovel.
When you have just the right gardening tool for every job, you will move quickly through tasks, your garden will look beautiful, and you’ll be better equipped to care for plants.
Choose tools that will work best for you and your garden, but also those you can expect to last for years to come.
And remember: Inexpensive tools might seem attractive at first, but nothing beats reliability and longevity.
Barb Abrahms is the CEO and co-founder of PalmFlex. Abrahms has over 20 years of experience consulting her team and customers on their ideal personal protective equipment needs for a variety of industries and applications.