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A Suggested List of Tools for the Gardener

By Blake Schreck (Blake_SchreckJune 23, 2011

While some would tell you that there is some magic list of garden tools that every gardener should have, the simple fact is, gardeners come in all shapes, sizes and needs.

Gardening pictureWe are short and tall, right and left-handed, large vegetable garden, a small flower bed or our favorite plants on the balcony, but one thing we all have in common is, we want our garden tools to work as hard as we do and last even longer. Like us, garden tools come in all shapes, sizes and ways we can use them. A simple hand hoe that may be perfect for someone weeding a flower bed may also be the favorite tool for a vegetable gardener making furrows for seeds in a large vegetable garden.

Below is not a list of garden tools you should have, but "suggestions" on garden tools that many gardeners might find useful for a particular type or size garden.

  • Large Vegetable Garden
  • Raised Bed Garden
  • Flower Beds and Lawn
  • Townhouse or Apartment Garden

Large Vegetable Garden
  For sizable gardens, most gardeners find that the longer handled tools not only save the back, but are able to work more area in less time. Buying good quality garden tools will save you a lot of broken and bent tool headaches. Look for tried and true materials such as thick carbon or stainless steel tool bodies and Ash hardwood tool handles from FSC Certified managed forests.


Click on the image for an expanded view

  • Garden/Digging Fork -Some would call this tool a gardener's favorite tool, but it is really your soil's best friend. Great for turning the soil, aeration and mixing nutrients into the soil.
  • Garden/Digging Spade -Great for digging, turning the soil, soil aeration and its straight blade also makes it a good edging tool. (If you are considering a fork or spade with the traditional "YD" handle and you have a choice of handle lengths, unless you are very vertically challenged, go with the longer one...your back will thank you.)
  • Garden Hoes -The never ending battle with weeds is best tackled with a hoe or cultivator (not chemicals). There are many, many head shapes available and most gardeners have a favorite, but a few of the favorites are: pull hoes, hoes like the diamond shaped hoe that works on the push and pull strokes, Dutch hoe, scuffle hoe, oscillating hoe (also called a hula hoe, action hoe and stirrup hoe), half-moon hoe and the heart shaped hoe. Many gardeners own several hoes for the different chores such as weeding between plantings, cleaning up between crop rows or even turning the hoe on edge to create seed furrows.
  • Garden Rake -If you're making a new garden or adding on to an existing plot, the garden rake is great for leveling and clearing debris from your soil.
  • Garden Hand Tools -Now that you have the workhorse tools, you may find any number of smaller tools handy when you're out in the garden. These tools will probably be specific to your type of gardening.
  • Pruners -Every gardener's go to pruning a good pair and you'll have a lifetime garden tool.
  • Hori Hori knife- this gardener's favorite is great for light digging, weeding, planting and so much more.



Remember, you're unique and the way you garden is too, so choose tools that make your gardening more enjoyable.

Raised Bed Garden This type of gardening is becoming very popular because of ease of maintenance and the ability to grow a lot in a smaller space.

With most raised beds no wider than four feet, it's easy to reach half way across the bed from both sides making shorter garden tools a good option.


Click on the image for an expanded view

  • Garden Spade and/or Fork -great tools for turning the soil, aerating, and mixing nutrients into the soil.
  • Long Handle Hoes - Even with the narrower beds, the longer weeding hoes with their variety of head shapes are very useful.
  • Medium Length Tools -Look for some medium length tools. There are forks, spades and other mid-length tools out there including good quality kids tools. If you have a favorite long tool that is too long, cut the handle to length that suits your needs.
  • Dutch Hand Hoe -At 18 inches long, this is a favorite among many gardeners. Available in right and left handed versions, is great for weeding and making furrows for seeds and can easily reach across the bed.
  • Trowels -With so many different types of trowels available, you may find that a good trowel will handle all your planting needs.
  • Hori Hori Knife -This is the "MacGyver" of garden tools. Great for digging, weeding, planting, cutting bags open and so many more things.
  • Pruning Shears or Pruning Knife -Good for harvesting time or cutting unwanted greenery.
  • As with all gardening, you're different, and a tool that is popular with others might not work for you, so look around and find the right tool for your gardening chore.

Flower Beds and Lawn- If you are maintaining a yard with flower beds, (and maybe a veggie garden too) you'll find that your garden tool list seems to be never ending. The good news is that you can use several of your tools not only in your flower beds, but in you veggie garden and yard as well. The garden fork works just as hard in your flower beds as it does in the garden. Your garden spade that you use to turn soil in the garden also works great for planting large shrubs and small trees as well a lawn edger. Those weeding tools you use in the garden will work just fine in your flower beds. Other tools you might find useful are:


Click on the image for an expanded view

  • Garden Rake -good for leveling and raking debris from your soil.
  • Leaf Rake -those leaves in the trees are going to fall and the leaf rake is a must for gathering them.
  • Rabbiting Spade -this spade has a narrow pointed blade that is great for transplanting shrubs, ditch digging or planting one gallon container plants.
  • Shovels and Specialty spades -You may find that you need sharp pointed shovel for general digging or maybe a border or shrubbery spade for those tight spaces.
  • Edger -More and more gardeners are choosing to loose more of their lawn and plant beds with native drought tolerant plants to save water and the edger is a great garden tool for defining those beds.
  • Loppers or Pruning Saw -Loppers are great for pruning smaller tree and bush limbs that are green and the pruning saw for dead branches.
  • Pruners -Probably the most used tool in the gardeners arsenal. Spend the money to buy a good pair and you'll have a lifetime tool.
  • Water Hose -look around, ask your neighbors to find the best quality water hose you'll save yourself a lot of grief.

Townhouse or Apartment Garden- Though you live in a place where you probably don't have dedicated space to garden, you are just as much a gardener and need tools to tend your container garden. Those tools might include:


Click on the image for an expanded view

  • Trowel -Its small size make it great for planting in containers.
  • Soil Scoop -Great for transferring soil from bag to container.
  • Garden Knife -Great all around tool that is handy for opening bags, weeding.
  • Pruners -Your plants may or may not need some pruning, but if they do, buy a good pair...they'll last a lifetime.
  • Watering Can -While any container will do, a watering can with its rosette distributes the water evenly and gentler, especially for those young seedlings.

There are hundreds of shapes and sizes of garden tools to be found, but most found today are but mere gimmicks or cheap copies of original tried and true designs that old school garden tool companies have been hand making for hundreds of years. These garden tool artisans have been making tools to solve problems in the garden and you can bet that someone through the years has had your problem and made a tool to solve that problem.

  About Blake Schreck  
Head "Tool Geek" at Garden Tool Company

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