If you’re in the market for garden tools, one stroll through the tool section of any garden center or hardware store can make your head spin. What kind of garden tools and equipment do you need, and what are the best tools for garden and lawn?
The best kinds of tools vary widely depending on a huge number of factors, ranging from your physical ability, size of your garden, type of soil and even your gardening style. For example, an urban dweller with a balcony full of containers requires very different tools than a homeowner with a huge vegetable garden or an orchard.
The best way to proceed is to start with a few essential tools that will serve you well for nearly any type of gardening. You can always expand your tool collection with more specialized tools later, especially as your garden grows. This is true for those seeking lawn equipment as well.
While there are essentially all kinds of tools to choose from, here are suggestions for a few basic tools for garden and lawn that are definite must-haves for nearly anyone who gardens and any type of garden.
Gardening gloves – Don’t even think about gardening until you have a good pair of gardening gloves whether you have a big garden area or a few containers. They needn’t be expensive, but a sturdy, comfortable pair will keep your hands clean and blister-free. Gloves will also protect your fingers from thorns, burs and slivers.
Trowel – You’ll definitely need a hand trowel for digging small holes for planting perennials, annuals or bulbs, or a host of other small digging jobs. Garden trowels also come in handy when scooping and moving soil during potting or repotting of plants.
Garden scissors – You may be surprised at just how often you depend on garden scissors for trimming small branches, harvesting herbs, deadheading plants or cutting flowers for floral arrangements. Again, these are useful tools for anyone to have on hand.
Shovel – Although general-purpose shovels are often used for digging, they are best for moving and lifting materials such as mulch, compost, soil or gravel from one area to another.
Spade – A spade is even more important than a shovel, so if your budget is limited, opt for the spade and leave the shovel for later. A good spade is useful for digging heavy soil, breaking up dirt, removing sod, breaking up roots or edging a flower bed.
Hoe – Hoes are used mostly for weeding and cultivating. There are many types of hoes on the market, including triangle hoes that are especially good for working in tight spots and scuffle hoes that slice weeds from the surface of the soil.
Garden fork – Also known as a digging fork, this tool may not be essential if you have a small, tidy yard, but a good garden fork will serve you well if you need to loosen up firmly packed or rocky soil, remove clumps of plants without losing too much soil, or if you need to mix in compost or other soil amendments.
Rake – A leaf rake is a must if you have trees on your property. A steel rake is required if you need to smooth out the soil surface or work in compost or fertilizer. Most vegetable gardeners depend on steel rakes.
Even if your lawn is somewhat small, certain types of equipment are a must for providing adequate lawn care and maintenance. The two most common being the lawn mower and weed eater.
Mower– Among the most essential of all tools for the homeowner is a good quality lawn mower. Whether a traditional push mower, a self-propelled walk-behind mower or a riding mower is up to you, and in many cases, this decision will be based on the size of the property. Those with large lots may want to look into the time-saving benefits of a riding mower, while those with smaller areas to maintain may be just fine with an inexpensive push mower. Options like mulchers and baggers can be great time savers as well. A quality lawn mower should be an investment in the appearance of your lawn, and a well-made mower can last for many years. There are many options to choose from, so it pays to shop around before making a decision.
Weed eater – A weed eater is another must have tool. These handy little machines can cut your workload a great deal, and if you don’t already have one, chances are you will be in the market for one at some point. Weed eaters are the perfect choice for those hard to reach places where the lawn mower will not reach. When shopping for a weed eater, it’s a good idea to consider its weight, power and cost. While a powerful weed eater may be great for making short work of weeds, it may also be quite heavy to carry around.
by Matt Gibson
There are plenty of lists of gardening tools available on the internet geared towards specific areas of interest, including best gardening tools of a specific year, or best gardening tools for a specific task, or must have gardening tools. However, of all the lists we were able to find, we couldn’t locate one that was truly comprehensive, so we decided to make our own.
In this list, we put together every gardening tool that one might possibly need or want to acquire. If we left something out, please let us know in the comment section below the article and we will update the list to include it. So, aside from potting soil, containers, indoor growing equipment (which deserves a list of its own), seeds and plants, here are all the gardening tools you can get your hands on:
Apex sheds are spacious garden workspaces, often made of wood, which are used as a sheltered outdoor workspace for gardening projects and for storing garden equipment.
An auger is a hand tool, drilling device, or drill bit, that is visibly similar to a large screw, which is used for making holes in the ground for planting.
A backpack sprayer (or knapsack sprayer) is a spraying device consisting of a backpack tank with a pressurizing device, line, and sprayer nozzle, which is typically used in the gardening world for treating plants with insecticides and pesticides.
A border spade is a gardening tool that features a flat, thin, rectangular blade, that is used for digging in confined areas, such as in between tight rows of healthy plants. Border spades are useful for jobs that don’t require larger blades, such as those on regular shovels. Border spades are commonly used for moving perennial plants.
Bow rakes are used for raking heavy materials which would cause other garden rakes to break or snap. The bow rake is a flat rake with a bow-shaped metal frame which connects the rake’s teeth to the handle, and can absorb high impact, making it suitable for raking up stray rocks from gravel pathways, for example.
Named for the shape of the frame and blade, the bow saw consists of a C-shaped frame that connects to both ends of a toothed blade which is designed to cut thick branches and prune large bushes. A twisted cord runs parallel to the blade, which can be adjusted to increase or decrease tension in the blade.
A border fork, or ladies’ fork, is a smaller version of a garden fork, with shorter, closer-spaced, thinner tines but a full-sized handle, which is used for lighter work such as weeding amongst other plants.
Designed to be useful when digging landscape borders in a flowerbed, a border spade is smaller than a regular spade, and is equipped with a flat blade to dig down into the soil.
Most home gardeners will not need a sprayer that is quite this heavy-duty. A broadcast sprayer is used for spraying insecticides and pesticides, and is made of industrial-grade materials in order to cover a lot of ground very quickly.
The broadfork (also called U-fork or grelinette) is used to break up densely packed soil to improve aeration and drainage. The tool consists of five or so metal tines, approximately eight inches long spaced a few inches apart on a horizontal bar, with two handles that reach upwards to the chest or shoulder area, forming a U-shape.
The user steps on the crossbar and uses their body weight to drive the tines into the ground, then steps backwards while pulling the handles to cause the tines to move up through the soil, keeping the layers of soil intact and preserving the topsoil structure. Broadforks are used in the garden or in areas that are one to two acres in size. A similar tool is attached to a tractor or chisel-plow for larger areas.
A budding knife is a small knife that is made for delicate budding tasks and grafting with a single eye or bud.
A bulb planter is a gardening tool used to dig holes to plant bulbs and other plants. It is also designed to put soil back into holes to cover bulbs. Long-handled bulb planters allow gardeners to not have to bend when planting.
A device that is designed to hold organic materials and allows them to decompose and break down over time into finished compost.
A compost fork (also known as a manure fork or a mulch fork) is used for loosening, aerating and transplanting compost or manure, as well as turning over and moving other bulk organic material such as mulch.
Designed to aerate the soil, core aerators (also known as lawn aerators) penetrate the earth with hollow spikes which reduce soil compaction by removing small plugs of soil, creating channels that allows air, water, and nutrients to penetrate into the soil.
Designed to aerate the soil, drum aerators penetrate the earth with large spikes attached to a tine wheel that relies on weight for tine penetration. This method is usually used for large scale soil aeration.
Edging shears are designed to help a gardener cut the grass precisely along walkways or around garden beds. They are often mounted on long handles which allow the user to trim while standing up.
An electric edger is a gardening tool that allows landscapers to craft a distinct boundary between the lawn and another ground surface, typically along a sidewalk or curb.
A flat rake (or level head rake) has a rectangular head with 10 to 16 teeth connected centrally with a long handle. The back of the head is flat for leveling, while the rake is generally used for clearing debris and breaking down clumpy soil. Flat rakes are also commonly used to spread fertilizer or compost.
A garden fork (also known as spading fork, digging fork, or graip) is a gardening tool usually equipped with a long handle and several, usually four, short, sturdy tines. It is commonly used for lifting, loosening, and turning over soil.
A garden hoe is a common gardening tool with a long handle and small square blade which is commonly used to shape soil, remove weeds, clear soil, and harvest root crops.
A garden shovel is a tool used for digging, lifting, and moving garden soil. Digging shovels can be round, pointed, or flat for different jobs. The most common garden shovel has a rounded edge with a pointed tip and is shaped to scoop out plenty of soil.
Sheds are an important part of any serious garden. Typically made of wood, a garden tool shed is smaller than an average shed and is used solely for storing garden tools, equipment, and utensils together. This type of shed typically comes as a tower or box with no windows to keep materials stored inside well hidden.
A gas edger is a motorized edge trimmer that forms distinct boundaries between a lawn and another ground surface feature, such as a paved, concreted, or asphalted area.
Gardening gloves are worn for the protection of your hands when doing garden and yard work. Gloves keep your hands clean and typically protect the hands from prickles, caustic substances, minor bites, and sharp objects.
A hand cultivator is a gardening tool that is used to turn and till the soil where you plan on planting and removing all weeds. In small flower or veggie gardens, it can also be used as a mini-plow to help dig the planting rows.
Handheld lawn and garden sprayers are an efficient means of applying liquid fertilizers and pesticides in the home landscape.
A hand seeder is a single row manual seeder designed by field engineers to plant small vegetable or flower seeds in uniform rows.
Hedge shears are large scissorlike devices that are 12 to 28 inches in length, and are made to cut woody material up to one half inch thick. Handles may be wood or metal, with rubber grips. Blades can be straight-edged, curved, serrated, or wavy.
A hoe is a gardening tool with a thin metal blade that is usually used to break up dirt and soil clumps, and a helpful tool to use when weeding a garden bed.
A garden kneeler is a device that prevents sore knees caused by kneeling on the ground and back pain caused by stooping and bending from performing gardening tasks. Garden kneelers allow gardeners to kneel with a cushioned comfort and support, keeping clothes clean and protected from dirt and grass stains.
A lawnmower is a motorized garden tool used for cutting grass on lawns.
A leaf blower, also commonly called a blower, is a gardening tool that shoots air out of a nozzle at a high rate of speed, to move lightweight debris, such as leaves and grass cuttings. Leaf blowers are powered by electric or gasoline motors.
A leaf rake is a lightweight rake that is fan-shaped with flat, springy tines that radiate outward. Leaf rakes are designed to sweep and collect leaves without disturbing much of the soil underneath in the process.
A machete is a long-bladed cutting tool that is used to cut through plants and vines to clear pathways. It can be used to open coconuts and cut down small trees. Oftentimes, the back side has edges for sawing wood.
A manual edger is a non-motorised edge trimmer designed to form distinct boundaries between a lawn and another ground surface such as a paved, concrete, or asphalted area.
A pick mattock is a digging tool with a head which has a point at one end and a transverse blade at the other.
A pitchfork is a garden tool with a long handle and two to three tines which is used to lift and pitch or throw loose material such as straw, hay, or leaves. Also called a garden fork.
A planting dibble is a pointed gardening implement that is used to make holes in soil, especially for planting bulbs or seedlings.
A pointed shovel is a digging shovel with a pointed tip that is generally used for digging and planting in soft, tilled soil, whereas sharp, flat tips of square points are utilized for more heavy-duty hard-packed soils that need more force to penetrate the ground.
Pruners are gardening tools that are used for cutting plants and small branches, such as roses and grapevines. Stems thicker than a pencil will require loppers or saws instead of pruners. A pole pruner is like a pair of pruners but at the end of longer, pole-like handles to increase reach.
A post hole digger is a gardening tool used to dig narrow holes to install posts, such as for fences or signs. A post hole pincer is jabbed into the ground in the open position until the blades are buried. At that point, the handles are pulled apart to close the tool, grabbing the chunk of soil that has been loosened.
A potato fork is a garden tool that is a hand fork featuring several curved tines, which is used exclusively for digging up potatoes.
Potting sheds are made for potting plants specifically and for storing gardening equipment. Potting sheds are large wooden structures that feature a shelving area underneath a large window on one side which are sometimes used in place of a greenhouse. The window allows natural light into the space to help boost the growth of newly potted seedlings. Potting sheds also provide warmth and shelter for plants during the colder winter months.
A powered chainsaw is a portable, electric or gasoline powered mechanical saw that cuts using a set of teeth that are attached to a rotating chain which runs along a guide bar. It is used for activities such as felling trees, removing limbs, bucking, pruning, and harvesting firewood.
A powered edger, or string trimmer is a garden power tool that uses a nylon line that rotates very fast to cut and trim grass. Powered edgers are also sometimes used to trim and shape bushes and hedges.
A pruning knife is a small billhook blade for cutting small branches or performing various tasks that require a light cut.
A pruning saw is a gardening tool that is equipped with the same sharp teeth as saws that are used for cutting lumber, but pruning saws are intended for trimming live shrubs and trees. There are many different types of pruning saws, each made for specific types of branches or stems.
Pruning shears, also called hand pruners or secateurs are a type of scissors for use on plants exclusively. They are strong enough to prune hard woody branches of trees and shrubs, oftentimes up to two centimeters thick.
A long or short handled tool with tines at the end that is designed to collect grass or debris or to loosen soil
A rotary tiller is a gardening tool with a set of curved tines that are attached to a rotating shaft which is powered by a tractor’s PTO to dig into garden soil, churning it into a fine, clod-free seedbed. Rotary tillers are typically used in the spring before planting to help prepare your garden beds for the upcoming growing season.
A round point shovel is a versatile gardening tool with a slightly curved blade that is made for scooping, and a round end, often curving to a point in the center. The edges of the blade are beveled to allow the shovel to easily slice into the dirt. The long handle of a round point shovel can be made of wood or fiberglass.
A scoop shovel is a gardening and lawn tool that has a handle and a broad scoop or blade for digging and moving material, such as dirt or snow.
A scuffle hoe is a garden hoe that has both edges sharpened so that it can be pushed forward or drawn back.
A garden seed row planter is a precision machine that drops individual seeds at a particular spacing along a row. As the planter moves along each row, it opens up the soil to a certain depth, places the seed, and covers the seed, providing some means for pressing the soil into contact with the seed.
Garden shredders or chippers reduce garden waste by shredding it to bits, either for composting or just easy disposal.
A soil scoop is a general purpose digging tool with a deep bowl-shaped head with a sharply pointed tip and serrated edges. The soil scoop is a perfect gardening tool for picking through rocky soil, removing bulbs with limited damage, digging holes, and weeding in tight areas.
Spiked shoes that provide an easy way to aerate and revitalize hard-compacted garden soils to improve drainage.
A broadcast seeder, also called a broadcaster, broadcast spreader or centrifugal fertilizer is a farm implement commonly used for spreading seeds, lime, fertilizer, sand, ice melt, etc.
A sprinkler is a garden device that sprays water streams onto your grass or plants to irrigate them regularly, usually set to a timer. You can attach a small lawn sprinkler to a hose in your yard when your flowers are droopy, or your lawn is underwatered.
A square point shovel is a gardening tool that is perfect for moving loose garden material, such as sand, topsoil or debris. It can also be used to help shape beds, mix concrete, level off areas that need to be flattened, or to scrape stubborn material off driveways or other hard surfaces.
A step edger is a gardening tool that looks like a half-moon on a long handle which is used to create and define lawn edges.
See Powered Edger (String Trimmer)
A trailer sprayer is a large, trailer mounted sprayer used for applying fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides to large areas used in large-scale agricultural applications.
A modified shovel of sorts, a transplant spade has a long handle which makes it easy to use from a standing position. The blade is slender, long, and the same width all the way down, designed to help transplant large plants.
A trench shovel (also called a clean out shovel) is a long, narrow blade with a sharper curve at the end designed to help clean out and define trenches.
Used to prune small trees, a tree pruner (or lopper) is a long-handled pruning saw with a curved blade and sometimes a clipper.
A trowel is a small handheld garden tool with a flat base and a curved scoop, designed for lifting plants or earth. A trowel is used for digging, applying, smoothing, and moving small amounts of soil.
A twist tiller is an odd-looking gardening tool that both tills the soil and removes weeds with a simple twisting action. The tool features twisted lines, a crossbar to step on to help penetrate hard soils, and a long, cushioned handlebar for leverage and comfort.
A warren hoe, also known as a ridging hoe, or drill hoe, is a triangular or heart-shaped hoe designed for digging narrow furrows or shallow trenches for planting seeds or bulbs.
A water hose, or garden hose is a flexible tube used to convey water, commonly used with a sprayer or sprinkler attachment to concentrate water at a particular point or spread it over a large area.
A portable water container with a long spout and perforated cap that is used for watering plants.
A common gardening tool designed to ease the task of removing weeds from gardens and lawns.
A wheelbarrow is a small cart with a single wheel in the front and two support legs and two handles in the back, which is used for carrying loads of materials, such as soil, sand, gravel, etc.
A wheel edger is a manual tool that is used to help landscapers form a distinct boundary between the lawn and an asphalted area or other surface.
These have much shorter handles than other kinds of shovels, making them ideal for using by hand when you are close to the ground. They are perfect for digging holes for planting, but their edge has to be kept sharp enough or they will be very frustrating to use. They can easily be sharpened using a bench grinder. Buying a trowel with an ergonomically designed handle will keep your hand from cramping and help ensure that you don’t get blisters when using this tool.
These shovels have flat tips that are very hard and straight, making them perfect for digging tightly packed dirt, as they will have more force and make it easier to penetrate the ground. They are also great for scooping up and moving the rock, mulch, sand, and soil. Square shovels can be used to edge a lawn, cut roots and sod, and easily divide perennials without causing too much trauma to the plants.
When you are going to be digging into tilled soil that is fairly loose and easy to move, you’ll want to use a pointed shovel, as they will make the job very easy. These shovels don’t have the driving force that square shovels do, but they are helpful to have when planting a garden.
These giant forks have four very strong tines that make it easy to penetrate the soil. They are generally made from a single piece of steel, which ensures that the tines will not break. Use a garden fork when you need to break up soil, turn it over, or work some compost into your garden.
Source: Home Depot
While you can use a garden fork to dig up potatoes, if you want to make sure that you don’t accidentally damage your crop, you will need to use a potato fork. They have multiple tines that are quite thin with blunted ends so that the potatoes aren’t damaged when you dig.
Source: Home Depot
Also known as a “digging fork,” these are fairly lightweight and easy to use. They have tines that are flat on the face, making them perfect for aerating, turning in nutrients, and digging in soil that is loose or sandy.
Source: Home Depot
While one of the smaller types of garden forks available, these still have a great use. They are perfect for digging in garden beds or between plants when you want to make sure that you don’t accidentally injure the plants that are already growing. They are perfect for someone who is a smaller in stature or who is elderly, as they don’t require as much strength or force to lift and use.
Source: Home Depot
This is a fork that has two handles and can which quickly rework broken ground to ensure that it is ready for seeds. The two handles are connected with steel to long tines and will make the work go by very quickly when you are trying to work your ground a little more.
The long tines on this fork are bent slightly to make it very easy to scoop and relocate material from the ground without having to bend over. This is a great way to save your back, especially if you have to turn your compost on a regular basis. These tools are rather lightweight, so it’s important that you don’t turn compost that is too heavy or you will damage the fork. In that case, you will need to buy something that can stand up to a little more weight. While not perfect for digging on their own, they are great for moving clumps and clods of dirt and weeds that have been loosened by your shovel.
These tools are great for digging trenches in your garden to ensure that water can flow where you want it to. It has a pointed edge that is great for breaking through tough or rocky areas in your garden. The chiseled end of the pick can easily cut through roots that you encounter when trying to plant.
These tools are commonly used just to tear unwanted weeds and plants out of the garden, and they are also great for cultivating soil and breaking up larger clumps so that the garden is ready for planting. When the ground is soft enough, they can easily be used to dig trenches for your bulbs or seeds or to make furrows.
When you’re going to be planting shrubs or trees or simply need a hole for a fence post, you will want to grab an auger. These are devices that actually drill into the ground instead of relying on the user to force them into the ground. The end result is a hole that has the material inside removed and is ready for planting.
Source: Home Depot
Designed specifically for clearing and digging trenches, trench shovels have a very sharp tip to cut through the ground. The sides are squared off, which creates a very clean wall on the trench and ensures that you don’t disturb too much of the soil around the trench.
These digging tools actually consist of two shovels that are connected at their tops by a hinge. With two long handles connected to the hinge, it’s easy for the user to open and close the shovels by operating the handles. They are great for quickly digging holes for bulbs or making holes for a fence post. They aren’t ideal for use in very packed dirt and they work much better in soil that is a little loose.
If you don’t have a yard to speak of, or if you hate the great outdoors, it’s still possible to green up your living space with some live plants. Arm yourself with the right gardening tools and a little expert guidance, and it can be almost effortless to cultivate a beautiful garden indoors.
There are a few things to know about indoor gardening before you roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty: Indoor gardening is trending because it has its benefits. Compared to a larger, more complex outdoor garden, indoor gardens are often more attractive to beginner gardeners — because you’re not at the mercy of the seasons. With an indoor garden, you can control the environment of your plants by regulating how much food, water, shade and light they receive. Plants cultivated in this kind of contained setting are likely to last through more than one season.
For many of us city folk, indoor gardening makes perfect sense. As the UGA Extension points out, supported by specialists from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, we spend almost 90 percent of our time indoors. Cultivating a few beautiful interior plants can make your home environment more restful and attractive, and it can prove useful when you grow something you’ll eat. Indoor plants are also natural air purifiers that help to absorb indoor air pollution.
According to the National Gardening Association, you’re most likely to see success in your indoor garden when you pick plants that grow well indoors. The NGA recommends user-friendly indoor favorites like arugula, chives and lettuce and especially herbs like dill, basil, rosemary and sage to get you started.
Once you’ve picked up your preferred potted plants (or seeds), your hard work isn’t done just yet. Keeping up with an indoor garden requires regular care, but no one said it had to be time-consuming. With these handy tools in your toolbox, it’ll be easy to keep your plants alive:
For those newbie gardeners who have no idea what a fork has to do with growing plants, keep right on reading. One key difference between indoor and outdoor plants is that indoor plants may not have the same access to nutrients. Adding fertilizer and compost to an indoor plant can provide it with the minerals it needs — when you use your trusty hand fork to break up soil and make sure it is properly fertilized. The Bulldog Evergreen Hand Fork is a top-rated, UK-manufactured gardening tool that comes with a 10-year guarantee, and you can also find reasonably priced hand forks on Amazon. (Jewson Tools, £5)
If you fondly remember Fiskars scissors from your kindergarten days, you’re in luck. Fiskars makes plenty of grownup tools too — specifically designed to simplify some of the most cumbersome indoor gardening tasks. Add the Fiskars PowerGear2 Pruner, used by Fiskars designer and urban gardener Russell van Kraayenburg, to your indoor gardening tool kit: The inexpensive pruner offers a strong grip with maximum leverage to cut through stems and light branches at up to 3/4-inch thick. (Fiskars, $25)
Cheap, strong and easy to use, it’s hard not to love the ergonomically designed Radius Garden 101 Ergonomic Hand Transplanter. The hand transplanter, designed with a patent-pending Natural Radius Grip to minimize hand and wrist strain, makes it easy to do the dirty work without overextending or wasting energy. This little guy is best used for planting bulbs and transplanting to and from indoor pots. (Amazon, $16)
If you’re the type that gets off on organizing, this tool is definitely going to blow your skirt up. Not only is a label maker fun to play with, but it’s a must for indoor gardening because it helps keep indoor plants, seed packets and supplies organized. The P-Touch label maker — called one of the best tools of all time by Good Housekeeping — covers all the bases. Labels come in a wide variety of tape colors with different fonts, decorative patterns and even garden-themed symbols like flowers and tools. (Amazon, $40)
You can always count on the Swedes to come up with something innovative enough to turn indoor gardening on its head. Winner of the IF Product Design Award in 2010, Born in Sweden’s indoor gardening can is a confirmed work of genius. The functional yet practical stainless steel watering can uses gravity to dispense water — simply move the metal cylinder up or down to stop or start the flow of water. Use this unique watering can to hydrate your potted plants or to entertain your friends at a party. (Amazon, $50)
This is where the line between lazy and brilliant starts to blur just a little bit: The new Aqua Camel is a self-watering plant pot that takes the guesswork out of trying to figure out how much and how often you need to water your indoor plants (often the hardest skill to master as an indoor gardener). Eliminating this under-watering/over-watering dilemma means fewer dead plants on your hands. The patented Aqua Camel pot, backed by University of Florida horticulturists, is designed to give potted plants as much water as they need to stay hydrated for up to 60 days, with no additional watering needed. (Aqua Camel, $15)
If self-watering pots are too futuristic for your taste, and you want to stick to the basics of gardening, there’s a gadget for that too. The Indoor/Outdoor Moisture Sensor Meter offers another way to bypass the common problem of under-watering and over-watering thirsty house plants. The easy-to-read needle meter has a color-coded gauge that reflects a plant’s soil water levels, with no batteries needed. (Amazon, $10)
For those times when you need a professional gardener’s touch, as always, there’s an app for that. The Koubachi (a.k.a., your “smart” plant care personal assistant) uses built-in sensors to monitor the soil temperature, moisture and lighting of indoor and outdoor plants. Through the use of an iPhone or web app, this adorable little device that looks remarkably like a golf club will serve as a direct medium between you and your house plants — you’ll know immediately when your basil needs more water or would prefer a sunnier spot in the kitchen. (Amazon, $100)
Once you’ve got the basics of indoor gardening down, it’s time to think about presentation. Instead of crowding all of your perfectly potted plants on a windowsill or end table, you can organize them nicely and neatly in a central point in your house. An A-frame plant stand can be used indoors or outdoors, with optional galvanized shelf liners to catch water run-off. Set up your plants on their shelves, wait for the first leaves to sprout and congratulate yourself on a job well done. (Gardener’s Supply Company, $80)
What tools do you need for vegetable gardening? Luckily, it doesn’t take much! There are some tools and supplies that can make gardening a lot simpler, though. Here’s an overview of the top gardening tools and other considerations.
When starting a garden for the first time (or the second or third time), you’ll need a few basic tools right away. Here’s where to start:
1. Hand Trowel
A trowel is a small shovel used for digging small holes for planting seeds, measuring depths in the soil, and digging up tough weeds. Look for a trowel with a narrow, sturdy blade (stainless steel is a good option) that will cut into the soil easily, as well as one that has a comfortable grip. It’s a gardener’s best friend!
2. Hand Cultivator
A hand cultivator is like a mini garden fork, often with three tines. It’s useful for removing small weeds and roughing up the soil, both in the garden and in containers.
3. Garden Fork
A garden fork (similar in appearance to a pitch fork) is useful for turning over soil and compost, digging out root crops, and dividing perennials. Its long, metal tines allow it to easily penetrate the soil and avoid the smaller rocks that would get in the way of a shovel.
4. Garden Shovel or Spade
A key tool in a gardener’s arsenal, a shovel has a pointed, rounded blade and is useful for digging holes and moving soil. A spade is a type of shovel that has a straight-edged, flat blade and is good for digging straight-sided holes, cutting roots, removing plants and weeds, and making edgings. When choosing a shovel or spade, the longer the handle, the more leverage you will have. Look for forged metal with a sharp blade edge.
5. Garden Hoe
A hoe is used to remove shallow-rooted weeds. It is also used to create furrows for planting seeds and to break up clumps of soil. Hoe heads come in many different shapes and sizes. Make sure that the metal head is securely attached to the handle. A smooth wooden handle will resist splintering.
6. Garden Rake
A garden rake or ground rake has metal tines and is used for smoothing soil and clearing the garden of debris or small rocks.
7. Gardening Gloves
You might not consider gloves essential, but a good pair of gloves can help to prevent blisters and cuts, and will keep your hands clean. Of course, there is certainly something to be said about feeling the dirt between your fingers! For digging, look for gloves that have waterproofing along the palm and fingers. For pruning, look for thicker gloves that provide more protection.
8. Hand Pruners or Pruning Shears
A hand pruner removes small branches from perennials, shrubs, and trees. Choose a bypass-style pruner, meaning the top blade slices pass the bottom blade, resulting in very quick, clean cuts. (With anvil pruners, the other common variety, the top blade chomps down onto the bottom blade. This can damage the stem or branch that you’re cutting.) Hand pruners can also be useful for harvesting ripe vegetables without damaging the plant. Look for razer-sharp blades and a comfortable grip.
9. Garden Scissors
Garden scissors have very thin, supersharp blades that are used for deadheading (the removal of dead flowers), snipping herbs and flower stems, and pruning delicate plants. It’s not meant to replace a hand pruner, but to complement it. Look for ergonomically-designed handles.
10. Extra: Hori-Hori Knife
This is not an “essential” tool, but worth a splurge. The hori-hori gardening knife is a fairly recent addition to Western gardens. Commonly used in Asia, Hori-hori knives (hori meaning “to dig” in Japanese) are a mix between a knife and trowel, which makes it great for digging small planting holes, harvesting, and cutting down weeds. Some types feature a serrated edge to make cutting even easier, while others feature a ruler printed onto the blade, which helps when measuring planting depth.
To read more about the many different types of pruning tools, including loppers and hand saws, read Pruning 101: Trees and Shrubs!
Besides your basic garden tools mentioned above, think about how you plan to water your plants. You’ll want to have a water source nearby.
11. Garden Hose
A garden hose carries water long distances. Attach two or more together to reach farther. Variable nozzles or sprayer heads adjust to deliver everything from a gentle sprinkle to a hard stream. Brass parts and fittings are more durable than plastic.
12. Soaker Hose
A type of garden hose, soaker hoses are meant to be laid out in the garden around crops. When the water is turned on, they leak water through their permeable material and water the garden slowly. They allow for a steady, consistent watering, which is important to producing healthy crops.
13. Watering Can
Able to evenly water plants anywhere, a watering can is best suited for small watering jobs. It should have a capacity of a least 2 gallons but be easy to carry when full. Select a plastic or metal model with a removable spout. It’s also often beneficial to keep a smaller watering can around, too—especially when it comes to watering around small container plants.
14. Extra: Watering Wand
Unlike a standard hose nozzle, a watering wand delivers a soft, soaking shower. Many wands have a long shaft that makes it easy to reach out to water between and under closely spaced plants as well as water overhead hanging baskets and flower boxes.
15. Padded Kneelers
Padded kneelers (aka kneepads) can help to lessen the pressure on your knees. Kneeling is actually easier on your back than squatting. If both positions are too painful, bring a stool out to the garden to sit on or simply sit on the ground.
16. Leaf Rakes
Rakes are purpose-built: The leaf rake is lightweight and used for raking up leaves and lawn clippings and for spreading mulch. Metal rakes will last longer and perform better than plastic or wooden ones. Buy a rake that is securely attached to the handle none of the parts should wiggle!
17. Wheelbarrow or Yard Cart
No matter the size of your garden plot, a wheelbarrow always comes in handy. A wheelbarrow or yard cart is used for hauling soil or leaves, collecting debris, and countless other tasks. The sturdiest wheelbarrows are made of one piece of heavy steel for heavy loads, but heavy-duty plastic wheelbarrows are a better choice for home gardeners. A wheelbarrow is easier to maneuver than a two-wheel yard cart, but less stable. Using a wheelbarrow or yard cart can also help to preserve your back, which is always at risk of strain from constantly bending to plant and weed your garden.
18. Extra: Soil Monitor
A very handy and inexpensive “extra” is a small soil monitor that you stick in the ground to read water, sun and pH value. You’ll know when it’s time to water, whether the plant is getting enough sun, and if the soil is acidic or alkaline.
What tools are part of your essential gardening toolkit? Share suggestions in the comments!
We’ve gathered all of our best beginner gardening guides into a step-by-step series designed to help you learn how to garden! Visit our complete Gardening for Everyone hub, where you’ll find a series of guides—all free! From selecting the right gardening spot to choosing the best vegetables to grow, our Almanac gardening experts are excited to teach gardening to everyone—whether it’s your 1st or 40th garden.
Who said geeks have to be behind a computer screen? Because all of us green fingered types know only too well that we love nothing better than a good garden gadget. In fact we have our own little garden gadget geek world! So here’s our top 19 cool garden gadgets to get you all hot under the collar this summer!
Love the outdoors? Well don’t waste a moment inside but still catch your favourite films with this giant inflatable screen. They come in all sorts of sizes.
Brilliant for that sneaky cup of tea, these over-your-boot slippers mean you don’t have to take off your boots if you just want to pop indoors quickly. You won’t get your nice clean patio covered in mud from your boots either.
While you’re thinking of lying down, why not get really comfy wherever you go with a super lightweight, portable and inflatable sun lounger. Just relax and enjoy, that’s what summer’s about after all, isn’t it?
Make life that little bit easier this summer if you need to store and transport water. This bag fits in your wheelbarrow and has a spout and cap so watering doesn’t have to be back breaking.
Not keen on our eight legged friends? You’ll love this super easy spider catcher which allows you to grab them without getting too close. Keep one indoors as well and you’ll never need an upturned glass again.
If you’re not a fan of big brother watching over us or haven’t got the time or budget for full CCTV, why not opt for this dummy. Because it’s solar powered a red light comes on at night so it looks realistic but there’s no wiring or complicated installation.
Get up close and personal with the birds with a luxury bird feeder which you can attach to a window. With room for feed, water and seeds balls, birds love it and you can enjoy seeing them really close up. Perfect for the lazy twitcher who wants to stay at home.
This one’s for the passionate barbecuer! A barbecue that saves space, is portable and even comes with a cooler! So whatever you get up to this summer and wherever you get up to it, you’ll have hot sausages but cool drinks to order!
Love Lego? Minecraft mad? You’ll love the Lego planters and however large or small your garden or green space, you can bring a bit of the outdoors in.
Perfect for the lazy garden, you bury these terracotta shaped vases in amongst your plants and fill them with water! The self-watering Oyas do the watering for you and all underneath the surface too! And you? Well put your feet up for a change!
For the more serious gardener, Air-Pots are an exciting new way of getting more from your plants, whether that’s blooms, fruit or veggies. With hundreds of little holes around the pot, they encourage healthier, more productive roots. That can only be good news.
It’s cool, it’s cute, but it’s costly. This little automatic mower will be busy about your lawn while you enjoy the view. This robot friend who starts at £1,000 can manage all weather and tricky terrain. He’s smart too and frees up your time for whatever you fancy!
If you love technology as well as gardening this is the Flowering App is for you. You just stick the little branch shape gizmo in your pots and when your plants needs some love or attention (or water and feed), it sends a message to your phone.
Bring a touch of the Eden Project to your garden with this versatile, light weight and almost space age aviary or chicken coop. It doesn’t come cheap (or is that cheep cheep) but you have to admit that it’s cool.
Save your pond life from those unwanted predators with this interlocking net system. Because it’s a series of cobweb shapes, it’ll fit different shaped ponds and leaves your pond still looking great!
Good things often come in small packages and this easy to use string cutter is small but perfectly formed. Safe too, just clip it on to the top of your finger and away you go. Things don’t get more simple or smaller than that.
It is easy to lose track of time when you’re getting stuck in and this slate looking clock and thermometer will not only keep you on time but gives you the temperatures too, so you can track trends in your garden throughout the year. No more leaving it to chance.
Fancy a water feature with a difference? But don’t want to start digging or installing pumps and complicated water feature systems? The Lily Rain Chain is a simple but delightful take on a water feature with cup shapes hung down a chain, each with a hole in it allowing rain from the gutters to gently drip down.
Run out of space for your planting? Indoors or outdoors why not plant from the sky with this clever little device made from recycled plastic. It looks great, comes in 3 sizes and even has its own reservoir and gives you a great chance to get really creative with your planting.
Stuck for summer storage? This lovely looking sun lounger doubles up as storage meaning you can keep your cushions and towels clean without having to drag them inside every evening. You may have to make it yourself… this one’s a DIY but that means the potential is endless. Paint it green, decorate it with flowers or keep it natural, the decision is yours.
There’s a reason Good Ideas is called what it is and we love this foam kneeler/storage combo which also gives you a hand getting up too. Light weight and weather resistant … now that is a good idea!
So that’s it. From the fun to the functional and for the lazy to the labourer, those were our top 21 cool garden gadgets for this summer. We’d love to know what you think of them and how you get on but better still, we’d love to know what garden gadget you’ve found which you now just can’t live without. Share your garden gadgets with us green gingered geeks at on our social media sites. Let’s get techie this summer!