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Gardening takes a bit of work.
Sadly, there’s just no getting around that. However, that doesn’t mean gardening has to be complicated or backbreaking.
In this post, I’ve laid out 11 basic tools for the new gardener that will make it easier for you to have your own little patch of sunshine.
Basic Tools for the New Gardener
1. Hand Trowel
A hand trowel is definitely a basic tool for the new gardener. And one that should be on your must-have 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.
Trowel blades also come in various sizes and designs. 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.
This makes them ideal for loosening and aerating soil. They also come in handy when spreading materials such as fertilizers and mulch.
Whenever you need to manipulate your soil, you’ll want your cultivator nearby.
Make sure to find one 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 it came to my outdoor gardens, both my short and long-handled cultivators were always within easy reach!
A hand pruner is another 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 and trim bushes or trees.
In general, 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 the most popular style of pruner and are used for live stems and branches. My article on pruners goes into greater detail on these three types.
4. Watering Can
Watering cans are usually made of either plastic or metal, and come in a variety of styles and colors.
Look for one that carries a decent amount of water, but is not so heavy you’ll struggle to carry it when full.
Also, pick one with an attachable nozzle that creates a gentle spray. 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 generally work with the dirt in your backyard, then a garden shovel is a must.
Although the words shovel and spade are often used interchangeably, when it comes to gardening, they actually refer to two different types of digging tools.
Shovels have rounded or pointed tips. Spades, on the other hand, have a flat, or straight edge. (I know, I always thought it was the other way around too!)
Shovels are great for turning the earth, transplanting trees and shrubs, breaking the soil, and many other functions. You can’t go wrong with a simple, round-headed shovel.
Spades, on the other hand, are for lifting sod, edging, or moving piles of dirt.
Both shovels and spades can have various handle lengths and various grip styles. Choose one that has a comfortable grip and is a good length for your height.
I’ve written a post all about garden shovels. Take a look at it to learn more about these digging tools.
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.
Lawn rakes have a larger, fan-shaped head. This makes 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 rubber hoses.
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 tend to spring leaks if left in their expanded state. So, if you purchase an expandable hose, make sure to drain it after each use.
A soaker hose has tiny holes throughout the hose to allow water to seep through. This might be a good option if you’re short on time.
Another easy way to water your garden 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.
When it comes to hose attachments, you’ll want to consider an adjustable nozzle. 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.
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
Your outdoor garden and flower beds will benefit from good soils and regular nutrients.
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. I’ve written an article that goes into greater detail about soil choices.
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.
Also, keep in mind, for raised beds or potted flowers and vegetables, you’ll need soil suitable for container gardening. Otherwise, you risk the soil being too heavy and dense for the pot.
Similar to soils, there are a number of choices when it comes to fertilizers. What you choose will depend on what you’re fertilizing and how you want to apply that fertilizer.
Fertilizers are either water soluble or slow release.
Water soluble fertilizers are mixed with water and applied in a liquid form. They give your plant a quicker boost.
Slow release fertilizers are usually granular and are worked directly into the soil. They nourish the plant over an extended period of time.
Slow-release fertilizers are convenient and cost-effective since you need to fertilize less often. However, you cannot control the amount of fertilizer being released into the soil.
Water soluble fertilizers allow 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 only have a few outdoor planters or a small raised bed, you can likely get by without a wheelbarrow.
But, if your backyard has multiple or large garden areas, a wheelbarrow will save you a lot of work. Transporting soils, mulch, plants (especially trees and shrubs), and debris can be backbreaking.
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, take a look at your intended usage and your storage availability.
Lastly, 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, sometimes you’ll 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.
Regardless of type, though, pick a pair that fits snugly and is made from 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
The above tools are of great help to new gardeners, but 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:
- Consider looking into available tool swaps in your area.
- Garage sales and auctions are also great places to explore used gardening supplies (just make sure anything you purchase is in decent shape).
- You may find good deals on sites like Craigslist or Kijiji, and they often have “free stuff” sections that are worth exploring.
- Lastly, pairing up with a gardening friend to purchase and share tools is another fun and social way to curb expenses.
I hope you enjoyed this article on basic gardening tools. If you did, feel free to share it.