Must Have Tools for the Garden

Along with the arrival of spring comes thoughts about spring gardening. Working in a garden is a great way to relax and forget the troubles of the outside world while at the same time getting some much needed exercise. However, like any other job, having the right tools will make gardening more fun and less work. Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of tools to grow a great garden - a few inexpensive basics will be enough to get you going and you can decide if your want to add more later on. Here’s some thoughts on ‘must have tools’ for your garden.

Tools you need

  • Spading fork – this is a shorter handled version of the traditional farmer’s pitchfork. The tines are shorter and stronger, designed to dig into compacted soil so you can turn it over and break up lumps.
  • Rake – a strong bow rake (short metal tines attached to a metal frame or bow. It can be used to level the ground once you’ve turned it with your spading fork as well as gathering up leaves and rocks leveling the soil in preparation for planting.
  • Round point shovel – a round point shove/spade will allow you to dig holes and make it possible for you to plant (or transplant) shrubs or trees.
  • Garden trowel – After you’ve turned and leveled you garden, you’ll need a trowel to plant the seeds or small plants.
  • Watering can or hose – A hose with a spray nozzle works well for watering your plants but if you want to give them a little more TLC, a long necked watering can provide gentle watering to seedlings.
  • Hoe – a long handled hoe makes it possible to get rid of weeds that grow close to your plants.
  • Garden shears (clippers) – allow you to trim plants as they grow as well as shape trees and bushes.
  • Garden gloves – Protect your hands from cuts, nicks and scratches by wearing sturdy garden gloves.
  • Kneepads – A lot of gardening is done at ‘ground level’. Having some cushioning on your knees will make gardening much more pleasurable.

Some ‘nice to haves’

  • A wheelbarrow to carry your garden tools and supplies.
  • Square ended edging shovel to give your garden’s edges a professional look.
  • A cultivator can get close to growing plants to loosen soil and dig out weeds.

A few other thoughts

  • This list of basic tools (even if bought new) should only cost around $200. However, you can often find good quality tools at yard or garage sales, estate sales or consignment stores. As well, retailers often clear out good quality tools at the end of the season or near the beginning of the season to entice people to come into their stores. If you shop around you can probably get everything you need for even less.
  • Knowledgeable people know buying quality tools isn’t an expense, it’s an investment. Saving money now by buying cheap tools is a false economy and just means you are going to replace them a few years down the road. Your goal should be to buy high quality, durable tools that will last a lifetime with a little care (Simply clean dirt off them and rub the metal with oil to prevent rust in the fall).

Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with over 500 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to He can be contacted at