Choosing the Best Gardening Tools

You might think in order to have the perfect garden; you need every garden tool ever invented for gardening purposes and even some which aren’t. You’re wrong. People might try and sell you tools that they deem necessary which aren’t – at the end of the day, some people are just out to make a quick buck but in this article we will go through the best and worse as unbiased fellow gardeners.

We’re going to give you a run-down on some of the most efficient and useful tools you can own for the garden and how to ensure you buy quality equipment that can stand the test of time…

Must Have Gardening Equipment:

It’s worth bearing in mind that everyone will have different needs and requirements, because nobody has exactly the same garden. Obviously you may want to buy additional tools and equipment to deal with certain areas of your garden, but on the whole, the following list should be a great starting point for the majority of green thumbs out there. Before we even get into the lis however, this handy list of lawn mowers is sure to save you a fortune.

1) Hand Trowel – This needs to be sturdy as it’s one of the most used tools you’ll have in your collection. Used for planting, weeding and a whole host of other things.

2) Spade – Ideally you should go for one with a square blade and a handle that’s simple to hold; preferably D-shaped as this provides the best grip and allows for easy handling.

3) Stirrup Hoe – A relatively simple tool that is strong, but lightweight and great at cutting through weeds. Blade width comes down to preference, so choose what takes your fancy.

4) Digging Fork – Similar to the spade, but much easier to drive into the ground and soil due to the design which enables you to loosen and turnover soil with minimal effort in comparison.

5) Secateurs / Pruning Shears – There’s a lot of names for these hand pruners and several different types of shears. Opt for ‘bypass’ designs as these are the most commonly used and for good reason. Essentially, they are garden scissors; ideal for trimming and pruning bushes, stems as well as other things. These are perfect for tackling an overgrown garden. If you do buy a hedge trimmer be sure to check this information on them before.

6) Leaf Rake – These are the lightweight rakes that are ideal for raking up grass, leaves and other insubstantial debris/scraps you might have lying around the garden. Leaf collectors would be a handy little addition too. These will be a lifesaver come autumn, especially if you or your neighbours have trees.

7) Bow Rake – The bow rake is considerably more heavy duty than the leaf rake mentioned previously. These are better suited to raking through tough soil and dealing with rocks and other harder obstructions.

8) Hand Cultivator – The handheld version of a cultivator, ideal for smaller applications rather than acres of garden. They have a multi-functional role of weeding, breaking up soil and planting preparation. Designs vary slightly at the tines, but all perform similarly; essentially it comes down to preference!

9) Garden Knife – There are so many garden knives out there, that we couldn’t possibly recommend a particular one. A hori hori (Japanese) knife is ideal for digging, cutting and even scooping thanks to the design. Folding garden knives are also useful; just make sure you get one suitable for weeding, dividing plants and furrowing.

10) Wheelbarrow – No gardener can say they have all the tools and equipment they need without a wheelbarrow. Choose one that’s sturdy, well designed (to make loading and unloading easy) and resilient. Galvanised wheelbarrows with a pneumatic tyre should be able to tackle any job you have in mind.

Incidentally, many of the tools listed are some of the oldest originating tools used in the gardening industry. This says a lot about how useful these tools were in the olden days and how they still manage to get jobs done efficiently, regardless of advancements within the market.

How to Buy Garden Tools Intelligently

Now we’ve gave you a pretty comprehensive list of all the basic gardening tools you need to get your hands on, you’ll want to know the best way to go about this, right? Well, like everything in life, there’s good decision and bad decisions to make in the process, we’ll try and guide you in the right direction to make the best purchases possible.

1) Make a list ­– If you start off by making a list of the above 10 tools, then go into your shed (or wherever you happen to keep all your tools and equipment), see what you’ve got and what you haven’t got and make a note. Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that even if you have some of these tools, they might need replacing due to neglect – make a judgement call and work out which things you need. If you decide you want a chain saw, please read this chain saw safety manual first.

2) Quality – Many times gardeners look at tools and equipment as disposable and therefore buy things on the cheap and replace them the following year. Try and step away from this attitude and opt for a quality tool as they hold many benefits over cheaper, inferior alternatives.

High quality tools are usually made from stainless steel or carbon fibre steel. Stainless steel tools have the luxury of being rust-proof and are therefore considerably more durable than others; but they also come at a high price. Carbon fibre tools on the other hand are a bit cheaper and still just as sturdy and easy to use; however, they probably need to be looked after a bit more carefully.

3) Examine – When buying tools if you get a feel for them before parting with your money, even better. Pick them up, feel them and see if they’re suitable for you. Are they too heavy to work with? Are they too light to stand up to the job they were designed for? An example would be a shredder. There’s a lot going on and you should pick wisely. Be careful of painted surfaces as this is usually used to take attention away from and cover up lower quality construction materials.

4) Multi-purpose – If you’re going to stray away from the list we created, that’s fine! But make sure you don’t pick tools that only have one use as there’s a good chance you have another tool in your collection that can do the job equally well. There’s no point wasting money just to have a ‘dedicated tool’. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but they don’t really apply to the novice gardener.

At the end of the day, just make sure you buy carefully and look after your tools as they could well be life-long friends. Despite the constant change in technology, it is very rare that a new non-electrical tool comes out that will replace it’s predecessor so don’t treat them as disposable!

About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message:

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