Whether you’ve been tending one tomato in a pot on your deck, planted your first “real” vegetable garden this year, or simply aspire to grow gorgeous flowers for a cutting garden, you need the right tools to get the job done. While you don’t have to buy everything on this list right away to start gardening, you do need a few essentials. And this is one time when you definitely don’t want the cheapest, flimsiest products.
Once you do invest in quality items, make sure to hose your tools down and dry after use, which helps them last longer. With pruners, wipe the blades down with a mild bleach solution to prevent transferring any potential disease organisms to another plant.
Here are a few of our favorite must-have tools (tested in our own gardens!) for the newbie gardener:
No matter the garden chore, gloves are a must for protecting your mani and preventing broken nails and cuts. Look for gloves with nitrile or waterproof palms and fingertips so your hands won’t get soaked on early morning garden forays. Plus, they’ll provides a better grip when you’re digging or raking. These guys have adjustable cuffs to keep out debris.
Don’t trash your favorite sneaks or head out to garden in your flip flops. Gardening boots with slip-proof bottoms make chores easier and safer, and you can hose them off when you’re done. We like these mid-height boots because they slip on easily, you can fold down the neoprene top if you want a shorter boot, and they’re cute, to (er) boot.
Whether you’re digging around in beds or containers, planting bulbs, or pulling up stubborn weeds, you need a solid trowel that fits nicely in your hand and won’t break the second time you use it. We like this stainless steel made-in-the-USA version which is has a pointed tip for compacted soils and a hefty feel.
You need a pair of pruners for trimming stray branches, deadheading plants and tidying up shrubs. The bypass design, where the blades pass by each other like scissors as they cut, are versatile and strong. These cut through stems up to 5/8-inches thick, so they’re a good basic size for every gardener’s toolkit at a great price point. They also come with a lifetime warranty
Whether you’re installing a row of shrubs or double-digging your garden plot to turn over the soil, a sturdy shovel is invaluable. You definitely get what you pay for, and you don’t want to break a handle in the middle of the task. This one has an extra-tough fiberglass handle and a D-shaped handle that’s designed to increase leverage. It also comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
If you’re raking out an area to plant grass seed or perennials, a bow rake gets the job done. This isn’t used for raking leaves (you’ll need one of the flat, fan-shaped ones for that task), but it’s helpful for breaking up clods, leveling soil, and adding a layer of compost to beds. This one has a fiberglass handle, a steel head, and a limited lifetime warranty.
A garden hose makes it easier to get water to plants that aren’t near the source (goodbye to dragging the watering can all over the yard!). But the longer they are, the heavier and more unwieldy they become. This lightweight hose comes in various lengths; 25 or 50-feet is a good starting point for small to medium-sized yards. Plus, this is made in the USA in fun colors with brass or stainless fittings. It’s a pricier than those cheapo hoses, but it doesn’t weigh a ton and will last for years.
A garden fork is super-handy for turning over soil, pitching mulch on beds, or mixing up all that yard and kitchen waste in your compost bin. Look for one that’s lightweight with a D-handle, which makes it easier to maneuver. This one weighs a smidge more than 4 pounds, and it comes with a lifetime warranty.
A flexible garden tub is indispensable: Use it to tote plants around the garden, carry mulch, lug water, or harvest veggies. It rinses out and lasts forever, and you’ll probably end up buying one in every color once you discover how awesome and versatile they are.
No, you don’t absolutely need this tool, but once you have one, you won’t know how you gardened without it. Use either the straight or serrated edge to plant bulbs, divide perennials, or dig out weeds. It’s versatile and handy, so you don’t have to tote a lot of different tools around the garden with you. This one comes with a storage sheath and is made in Japan (incidentally, “hori” means “dig” in Japanese).
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