A gardener is only as efficient as their tools! Without the right tools on-hand, gardening tasks can take more time than they should—not to mention the toll on your body! If you’re just starting to get your hands dirty with gardening, there are a few essential gardening tools that will make your life a lot easier. This guide is intended to help budding gardeners make sense of the different tools, why they’re useful, and how to clean and store them. While there are plenty more great tools out there, these basics will make a solid foundation for your collection.
Every gardener’s best friend! Trowels are used for so many tasks in the garden—digging, transplanting, tamping soil, and so much more. A good trowel needs to be comfortable to hold, since you may be using it for long periods of time. We love this line of steel trowels because the red rubber handle is soft and easy to grip, and it’s easy to spot in the garden.
Cultivators are used for turning soil, mixing in soil amendments, and digging up weeds. Standard cultivators are typically three-pronged “forks” with a short or long handle. However, we really like the CobraHead tool, which is a multitool that is wonderfully effective at cultivating. With the CobraHead, you can pull weeds, cultivate soil, edge your garden beds, and more—without even having to switch tools!
A good-quality pair of secateurs, or pruners, goes a long way in the garden and landscape. This tool is great for pruning perennials, shrubs, and other garden plants with woody stems under 1” thick. The Felco brand makes high-quality secateurs that will last forever if cared for properly.
Augers are used to till soil and quickly create holes for planting bulbs and other plants. We swear by this plant auger, which attaches like a drill bit to a standard cordless drill. It quickly and consistently produces nice, wide holes at a consistent depth, making mass planting a breeze! Thanks to the pulverizing action of the auger, you can also use this auger to loosen soil in planter boxes.
This one is Brent’s favorite! He wears it as long as he’s awake! A good garden knife looks like a tough-guy tool, but the only bad guys it’ll be coming after are the roots of tricky weeds! Our favorite garden knife comes in a handsome leather sheath embossed with the Brent & Becky’s Bulbs logo.
Labels come in handy to mark everything from bulb varieties to vegetable plants. We’ve used these ones for years because they’re so long-lasting, and folks seemed to love them! After so many requests, we began selling them, and now we can hardly keep them in stock because they’re so popular. If you’re lucky enough to see them back in stock, grab some while you can—they work wonders for keeping you and your garden organized!
Garden gloves are highly practical for all garden tasks. They keep your hands clean and protect your fingers from sharp debris, thorns, and jagged stones in your garden. We like these garden gloves because the material is thin enough that you can still feel your plants and bulbs, which is important for gentle handling and assessing plant quality. This nitrile pair is also nice and lightweight, with some extra breathability for hot days. They also come in a wide range of fun colors!
Doesn’t the sight of a wheelbarrow just make you smile? There’s something about these classic workhorses that make a one-person job feel like teamwork. With a great wheelbarrow, it’s easy to carry loads of soil, mulch, and fertilizer from place to place. They also save your back by making it much easier to lift with your legs and transport loads without slouching.
Look for a wheelbarrow with a large capacity and a wheel that feels smooth and comfortable to roll. Heavy-duty plastic models are lightweight and handle most loads for the average garden. However, if you plan to transport heavier materials, like gravel or river stone, steel construction is a much more durable choice—just clean and store it after each use to fend off rust.
Cleaning and Storing Garden Tools
We all work better when we take good care of ourselves, and our garden tools are no different. If you keep your tools tidy, they’ll serve you well for many years.
Steel tools, like garden trowels and secateurs, should be washed thoroughly in warm water and a little dish soap after use. For larger tools, like wheelbarrows, you can simply spray them down with your garden hose. Use steel wool to buff out any rust spots you find. Rinse them in a bucket of clean water with about a teaspoon of bleach to kill any lingering bacteria.
Immediately after washing, dry the tools well before applying machine oil to any moving parts.
Sharpen knife and secateur blades at least once a year. If you’re not confident in your sharpening skills, most areas have professionals who will sharpen your tools for you. It’s not very expensive, but it’s definitely worth every penny!
Store tools in a covered area, such as a shed or garage. Hang tools up whenever possible to prevent condensation and encourage proper airflow.
A few well-maintained essential tools can allow you to easily complete just about any task in the garden. Well-made equipment can make such a positive impact on your enjoyment of the gardening experience. As your garden continues to grow, don’t be surprised if your collection does, too!
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