11 Basic Tools To Help The New Gardener


Gardening takes a bit of work. Sadly, there’s just no getting around that. However, that doesn’t mean your gardening endeavors need to be complicated or burdensome. In this post, I’ve laid out 11 basic tools for the new gardener that will make it easier for you to cultivate your own little patch of sunshine.

Starting Out

My top advice for new gardeners is to keep things simple. You want your backyard and garden spots manageable.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to ask yourself,

  • What time do I have?
  • What’s the length of my growing season?
  • What’s my outdoor space availability?

It’s by answering these types of questions you’ll get a feel for the style of garden and variety of plants best suited for you.

Oval shaped garden bed with a mixture of plants.  The bed is layered with mulch.

And, when speaking of plants, I recommend you start out with hardy, easy care outdoor plants. Whether you’re planting vegetables, flowers, or shrubs, there will be something suitable for your needs.

But, successful gardening is not only about the plants or design. Having the right equipment also plays an essential role in establishing a great garden. With this in mind, let’s take a look at 11 basic tools for the new gardener that will start any gardening adventures off on the right foot!

11 Basic Tools for the New Gardener

A number of long handled tools handing along a shed wall.  The tools include several shovels, a broom, rake, edger and hoe.
PHOTO by JENNIFER C. / CC BY

1. Hand Trowel

A hand trowel is definitely a basic tool for the new gardener. Given that, it’s one that should be on your list. Trowels are great for planting, digging, weeding, and smoothing out soils. You can think of these guys as shovels, only on a smaller scale

Similar to shovels, trowel blades also come in various sizes, and with differing edges. The type of trowel you choose will depend on your needs. Thinner blades are good for weeding. Whereas, serrated edges cut through roots more easily. On the other hand, curved blades are meant for scooping and holding dirt.

Regardless of your choice, make sure the handle fits comfortably in your hand. If you’d like to learn more about trowels and their uses, check out my post on the subject.

2. Hand Fork or Cultivator

Hand forks and cultivators have three or more prongs, which makes them ideal for loosening and aerating the soil. Not only that, they come in handy when distributing materials such as fertilizers and mulch.

In other words, whenever you need to manipulate your soil, you’ll want your cultivator handy.

As with a trowel, find a fork or cultivator that fits comfortably in your hand. Cultivators are also available with long or extendable handles. This comes in handy when you have larger areas to tend to. Personally, when I had my outdoor gardens, my cultivators – both short and long handled – were always within easy reach!

3. Pruners

A hand pruner is a gardening must-have tool for the new gardener. Not only do pruners help remove dead branches, but they also keep your plants in check. Additionally, you can use them to cut live stems, trim bushes or trees. In general, really any shaping task calls for a pruner.

Types of Pruners:

There are basically three types of pruners – anvil pruners, ratchet pruners, and bypass pruners. Anvil pruners are best for dead branches.

Ratchet pruners are similar to anvil pruners but feature a mechanism that allows you to cut in stages.

Lastly, bypass pruners are probably the most popular style of pruner and are used for live stems and branches.

For those more difficult to reach branches, consider a pruner with long or extendable handles.

Remember, you may be doing a bit of work with these guys, so when choosing a pruner it’s important to pick one with a comfortable grip. And don’t forget to keep your pruners clean and sharp.

4. Watering Can

Two metal watering cans hanging on a fence
Image by Alun Davies from Pixabay

Watering cans are usually made of either plastic or metal, and come in a variety of styles and colors. It’s important to look for one that will carry a decent amount of water, but not so heavy when full you’ll struggle to carry it any distance.

Also, you’ll want one with an attachable nozzle that creates a gentle spy. This is especially important for seedlings and young plants.

5. Shovels & Spades

If you’re looking to have an in-ground garden, plant a tree or shrub, or just, in general, work with the dirt in your backyard, then a garden shovel is a must.

Although the terms shovel and spade are often used interchangeably, when it comes to gardening, they in fact actually refer to two different types of digging tools.

Shovels have a rounded or pointed tip, spades have a flat, or straight edge.

I know what you’re thinking – but I always thought a spade was the one with the rounded tip! Me too! Alas, I was wrong. Writing this blog is teaching me a great deal.

Shovel vs Spade:

Let’s take a brief look at these two tools for the new gardener.

Shovels are great for turning the earth, transplanting trees and shrubs, breaking the soil, and many other functions. You really can’t go wrong with a simple, round headed shovel.

On the other hand, spades are the tool for lifting sod, edging, or moving piles of dirt.

Both shovels and spades can have various length handles, and various grip styles. Choose one that is a suitable length for your height and digging needs and one that has a comfortable grip option.

Want to know a little more about when to use a shovel vs a spade? Then check out this article by Epic Gardening.

6. Rake

Bow rake raking a patch of soil.
Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

Rakes come in a wide variety of styles and sizes and have a variety of uses. The tines can be metal or plastic and can range in number.

Bow rakes are usually metal and have short, thick tines. This type of rake is great for leveling out or tamping down your soil, as well as clearing heavier debris.

On the other hand, lawn rakes have a larger, fan-shaped head, making them ideal for clearing leaves and lighter debris from lawns and gardens.

Although similar in design to a lawn rake, a shrub rake has a narrower head. Because of this compact head, you can reach into tighter spaces.

When starting out, choose one that will suit your overall needs.

7. Garden Hose

Gardens need water, and unless you’re in the mood to haul buckets, a good garden hose is a necessity.

Hoses come in various lengths and diameters. in general, the larger the diameter, the greater the flow of water.

Types Of Hoses:

Vinyl hoses are lighter in weight and usually less expensive, but they won’t last as long as a rubber hose.

Another option is an expandable hose. These guys are also lightweight and they’re great for storage as they collapse and easily wind into a tight coil. However, one thing I’ve found with expandable hoses is they have a tendency to spring leaks if left in their expanded state. So, if you do purchase an expandable hose, make sure to drain it after each use.

If you’re short on time, a soaker hose, which has tiny holes throughout the hose to allow water to seep through, might be a good option.

Another easy way to water your garden without you being present is to attach a sprinkler to your hose.

Before purchasing a hose, it’s important to estimate the amount of length you’ll need. As for storing your hose, keep it coiled – without kinks – and out of direct sunlight.

Attachments:

When it comes to attachments, you’ll definitely want to consider an adjustable nozzle for your hose. A nozzle allows you to control the amount of water pressure and type of spray.

One great nozzle option is a water wand. A water wand is an attachable tool that allows you greater reach and the ability to target specific plants, which will help save water.

8. Hoe

Hoes come in handy when shaping and mounding the soil. They’re also great for digging shallow trenches, cutting out weeds, and in general preparing your garden and flower beds. When considering a hoe, look for one with a comfortable handle, long reach, and a sharp blade.

9. Soils and Fertilizers

Just like with houseplants, your outdoor garden and flower beds will benefit from good soils and regular nutrients.

Soils:

Although it’s unlikely you’ll fully replace the soil in your garden, you may want to top it off. Luckily, there are numerous bagged soil options. When considering these options, take a look at the type of garden and the current soil conditions. Doing this will help you determine which soil to look for.

Additionally, keep in mind, if you have a raised bed or potted flowers and vegetables, make sure the soil you’re using is suitable for a container. Otherwise, you risk the soil being too heavy and dense, hindering drainage.

Fertilizers:

Similar to soils, there are a number of choices when it comes to fertilizers. Again, what you choose will depend on a couple of factors. Namely, what you’re fertilizing and the application method of that fertilizer.

Water Soluble vs Slow Release Fertilizer

Fertilizers are usually applied in one of two ways.

Firstly, there are water-soluble fertilizers. Meaning the fertilizer is mixed with water and applied in a liquid form.

Alternately, a fertilizer can remain in a granular state to be worked directly into the soil. Fertilizers that are applied in their granular state are often considered slow-release fertilizers. In other words, they nourish the plant over an extended period of time.

Slow-release fertilizers are convenient and cost-effective since you only need a minimal number of applications. However, you cannot control the amount of fertilizer being released into the soil. Whereas, a water-soluble fertilizer allows you to adjust the fertilizer application rate. Depending on what you’re growing, having this flexibility might be a necessity.

10. Wheelbarrow or Garden Cart

If you intend to have only have a few outdoor planters, or a small raised bed, you can likely get by without a wheelbarrow.

However, if your backyard has multiple or large garden areas, a wheelbarrow will save you a lot of work when transporting soils and mulch, plants (especially trees and shrubs), and debris.

Wheelbarrows and garden carts come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes, with buckets that can be made from plastic, metal, or fabric. In order to pick the right model, assess your needs by taking a look at not only your intended usage but your storage availability as well.

Lastly, you’ll want to store your wheelbarrow clean and dry, and make sure to keep the wheels properly inflated.

11. Gardening Gloves

Although I am a big believer in getting your hands dirty when it comes to gardening, there are times you will need a good pair of gardening gloves.

As we’ve seen with the other tools for new gardeners, gloves also come with a multitude of options. Ultimately, your choice will depend on your usage.

However, regardless of type, you’ll want to ensure the pair fits snugly and is made of a material that suits your purposes. For example, if you’ll be handling thorny plants, you’ll want to make sure the glove is prick proof. If you anticipate multiple purposes, you may want to invest in several different pairs.


Gardening Tools on a Budget

Now, the above tools are of great help to new gardeners, but I know you may be looking at this list and seeing dollar signs. The truth is, gardening tools can add up quickly. Thankfully, there are options for the budget conscious gardener.

Here are a few ways to help keep your wallet in check:

  1. Consider looking into available tool swaps in your area.
  2. Garage sales and auctions are also great places to explore used gardening supplies (just make sure anything you purchase is in decent shape).
  3. You may find good deals on sites like Craigslist or Kijiji, and they often have “free stuff” sections that are worth exploring.
  4. Lastly, pairing up with a gardening friend to purchase and share tools is another fun and social way to curb expenses.

To sum things up, gardening has so many benefits and is a wonderful hobby to pursue. And rest assured, these 11 basic tools for new gardeners, will give your gardening ventures a solid foundation.

Any questions or thoughts? Please leave a comment below. If you enjoyed this article on 11 basic tools to help the new gardener, feel free to share it.

And remember to always have fun when discovering your green thumb!

Angela

Hi! My name is Angela Carr. I started this site to share my love for plants and gardening. My aim is to provide my readers with easy tips and tricks on plant care, fun facts, and encouragement for the new plant owner or anyone questioning the colour of their thumb!

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