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A Practical Guide to Garden Tools

garden tools A Practical Guide to Garden Tools

When it comes to garden tools, there is certainly a lot to consider. For starters, which tools are actually needed and which are just gimmicks?

More importantly, perhaps, which tools do you specifically need? There are different tools required for vegetable gardens versus flower gardens and even more variables that come into play depending on what types of flowers/vegetables.

We’ve outlined all this and everything else you might ever need to know about garden tools. Follow this guide over the winter to catch the best deals and ensure your garden thrives all summer long.

Types of Tools

There are four basic categories for garden tools:

  • Weeders
  • Diggers
  • Cutters
  • Soil improvement tools

Within these categories, there are hand and powered versions of tools.

Hand Tools:

  • Rakes
  • Hoes
  • Trowels
  • Spades
  • Scythes
  • Pitchforks
  • Axes
  • Shovels
  • Sickles

Power Tools:

You certainly do not need every single one of these tools to be a successful gardener. In fact, many great gardeners get by simply with hand tool basics.

Still, there is definitely a baseline that everyone who aspires to have a thriving garden must have.

The Basics

At the absolute minimum, every gardener should be able to prune, dig, and move soil around. Thus, every gardener should have a pair of shears, some gloves, a spade, and a hoe.

The spade and hoe can even be small, single hand tools. As long as they do their jobs as promised, you will be able to cultivate your garden.

The Right Tools

While you might not NEED all the fancy garden tools to grow salad ready vegetables each season, it doesn’t hurt to have a few things to help you work smarter.

Here is a series of tools that might come in handy based on various garden tasks. For each tasks, the tools are listed from most necessary to nice to have.

If you are planting…
Hand Trowel Shovel Pickaxe


If you are pruning…
Hand Pruners Folding Pruning saw Ratchet Pruners


If you are weeding…
Stirrup Hoe Hori Hori


If you are sowing seeds…
Hand Seed Sower Swan Neck Hoe

Weeding Tools

Weeds are a garden killer. It is for this reason that we are going to explore the tools associated with ridding your garden of weeds in a little more detail.

A garden hoe is a good place to start when it comes to weed maintenance. It helps in weeding by cutting through the roots of weeds and pulling them from the garden.

garden hoe

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There are a couple different varieties of hoes, some that are pushed and some that are pulled. There are even collinear hoes, which have a blade meant to cut through hardened soil easily.

There is not a ton of care associated with a hoe, but it is important to keep the blade relatively sharp. This is the difference between your hoe being an out of this world, I can’t live without it type of gardening tool, and just something you use once in a while that you aren’t quite sure why you bought.

Digging Tools

The hard truth is that plants do not magically end up in the soil on their own. It does take some work on the part of the gardener. But that work is assisted by some nice digging tools.

These come in many varieties and most of the major differences are dependent on what type of garden you are planting and what types of plants you want to feature in that garden.

For instance, a round-headed shovel with a long handle is useful if you are digging a deep, wide hole, one for a shrub or tree for instance. FOr smaller seedlings, however, you would be able to get by with a hand held garden trowel or a hori hori knife.

hori hori knife

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If you are planting bulbs, you will want to invest in a bulb planter. These are metal tubes with sharp edges that allow you to quickly stab many holes into the earth.

garden cultivator

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Finally, a garden cultivator can be helpful if you are turning over a new or tired looking earth for a garden. Hand cultivators are fine for small jobs, but if you are working with a large area it might be worth it to invest in a cultivator. You can rent these by day, or if you plan on making gardening a constant in your life for years to come, it could be worth it to buy one of your own.

Cutting Tools

Whether it’s herbs, fruit, or flowers, you are at some point going to want to take the thing you are growing out of the ground. This requires cutting tools.

bypass blades

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The two major types of cutting tools are characterized by the type of blade with which they are outfitted. There are bypass blades, which are more scissors like, and best for cutting live branches, and anvil shears, which feature one blade that is pressed against another dull edge to force a cut. The latter does not quite work as well on live plants, but is great for cleaning up dead or browning material from a plant.

Soil Care

The quality of your garden is almost entirely dependent on the quality of your soil. Part of this means knowing the composition of the earth you plan to cultivate.

The most important test analyzes the pH content of your soil. You can acquire an at home pH soil testing kit fairly inexpensively and without the trial and error of a full growth season.

 home pH soil testing kit

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If your soil is thick you may want to aerate it, which will help promote growth. An aeration tool can assist by punching small holes in the soil. These holes help facilitate drainage in you garden so that your plants do not drown.

As you can see there are many different tools that fit within the extremely broad categories of gardening. That said, in order for you to make wise purchases that ensure you have only what you need and nothing more, you must consider the following:

  • What type of garden are you going to plant?
  • What type of plant seeds will you sow within that garden?
  • What is your soil like?
  • How hard are you willing to work?

With these questions answered, you will be able to stock your garden shed with tools that will help you stay in bloom all season long.