All of my pre-conceived ideas about what would work for me were W.R.O.N.G.
This part of my research took much longer than expected. Long handled tools as they are designed work great if you are standing or bending over, but they are at a totally wrong angle if you are seated at a raised bed. A trowel with a long handle won't dig down into the soil if your arm is level with the soil. So you will need to decide how you do most of your gardening, or buy a few NEW tools. Extended reach is great with a ground level garden. The tool that works for me in my raised beds wasn't even on my consideration list, but here is the picture of my Warren Hoe. It goes by many names, but it is perfect for weeding, opening and closing a trench, poking a hole for a bulb, well, get one and find out for yourself. The best extended tools I found were adjustable with just a turn of the handle, anywhere from a few inches to 2 extra feet, while remaining light weight. It is sold with different tools on the end and made by GreenThumb.
For raking in the garden, I wanted shorter and adjustable. I found the perfect rake. It is lightweight aluminum and adjusts the width of the tines with the flip of a lever and a slide of a bar. At the smallest, it was about 5 inches across, opened fully it was almost as wide as a full size rake. I was even happier when I saw the price of under $10.
A note about purchasing the wrist supported system of tools. I'm an average height woman at 5'6", and these ran too long for my arms. Before buying, measure from the inside of your thumb to a few inches from your elbow. Make sure the bar can be reduced to that length or smaller. My husband at 6' had to put the bar at the shortest setting. Also measure the girth of your arm. The major brand I tried was too tight to fit over a jacket or coat, and a good part of my year requires layers for gardening. This one went back to the supplier. Don't forget the children's tools when searching for just the right hoe or rake. They may not last as long, but they are often very lightweight and inexpensive. My potting soil scoop came from the plastic kitchen area, a nice big measuring cup with a handle.
Now here is a secret that I've told everyone! If dragging a heavy hose and rolling it back up when you just want to water pots is wearing you out, buy the small plastic hose that is sold in 50' or 100' lengths that is used for setting up drip irrigation. It is less than an inch in diameter. With an adapter on your faucet, you are ready to go! You don't need the little attachments, it puts out a perfect small stream of water for pots and transplants. Add the little mister end to the hose, and you can water a small area without standing there. Watering was so easy this past summer thanks to that tiny black hose.
I'm all set! I have a rolling stool, a digging tool, a rake and a scoop. I already had a tiny black hose and a hose wand that I couldn't manage without, and an old plastic bucket. I was surprised to find that I didn't need a whole pile of tools since I'm working in raised beds now. If you are struggling when you garden, take a few minutes and explore your neighborhood gardening or hardware store, you may find the perfect tool to make life in the garden easier.
Thanks to Brannekey True Value Hardware in Bridgeton, Missouri for allowing me to play in their gardening tools and kitchen supplies. I have no connection to this company or any brands that are mentioned in this article.