Gardening is a fun hobby. It’s also a messy hobby that requires a lot of tools and specialized equipment if you’re going to do it right. That’s why we created this guide to essential gardening equipment, so you can learn what gear you need and how they are used.
You’ll find all of that and more below, from hand trowel to heavy duty garden trolley. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a veteran gardener, you’ll benefit from the equipment we’ve described here.
While not a tool like the rest of this list, as stated by the folks from Sweet New Earth, gloves are the most important piece of equipment. One thing is for certain, you’re not using any of the following tools properly if you aren’t wearing gloves. As a gardener, you work with your hands a lot. Without gloves, your hands will get wet, they will get cut, and they will get dirty with soil and other plant matter, like thorns. All of that goes away when you wear a pair of durable, water-resistant gloves. If you’re planning on being elbow deep in soil or shrubbery, you’ll want gloves with longer cuffs. They should fit well, too. Don’t underestimate the damage that poorly fitting gloves can do, especially when you’re wearing them often. Assuming they don’t slip off in an accident, they can still cause small, painful blisters on your fingers.
Also called pruning shears or secateurs, hand pruners are essential for catering to your plants once they start growing. They won’t grow neatly, instead they’ll grow in all directions and try taking over neighbouring plants. In order to control the plants, you’ll need to have some of these as part of your gardening kit.
In fact, you should have several pruners and shears for different purposes. Try to get:
- Anvil-style pruners that can cut dead wood or injure stems.
- Bypass pruners for controlling living plants and green woods.
- Ratcheting pruners for heavy-duty cutting. Also great for people who suffer from hand strength issues.
Any pruners you get should fit into the palm of your hand and feel comfortable when you’re pruning with them. They also need to be kept sharp, so that the pruners can make clean cuts that don’t injure the plants as much. If you use a dull pruner, you’ll inadvertently crush parts of the plant and cause damage to its future growth.
One of the more iconic additions to a gardener’s kit, a hand trowel is essential for removing weeds and transplanting between soil beds or containers. If you’ve seen a trowel before, you know the distinctive shape that lends itself to digging up soil and levering plants out of the ground, where you can then carefully move them somewhere else.
Trowels vary in how broad or narrow their blade is. Whichever is best for you depends on the type of soil you’re dealing with. If you have soft soil, you’ll want a broader blade for shifting more soil when needed. If you have tougher, rockier soil, then you may want to consider a narrow trowel that can penetrate the ground easier. Like with any gardening tool, it should be comfortable in your hands. Even a minor discomfort will become painful once you get started in the garden. Try to get a stainless-steel trowel, it’ll last much longer than others.
For more generalized digging tasks, it’s a good idea to put the trowel down and reach for a spade instead. Everybody knows what a spade is and how it works, they’re essential when you’re digging holes to plant plants in or you’re moving dirt from one area to another. Try to get a spade, not a shovel. The difference is that spades are short-handled, so you’re working more with your forearm than other parts of the body. Full-sized shovels are too big for specific gardening use unless your garden is very spaced out. If you get a high-quality spade, it’ll last you for decades. The head should be stainless steel and the handle should preferably be made from shock-absorbing hardwood, like ash. They can get expensive but they’re an important investment into your green hobby.
Garden forks are necessary for turning soil and making it easier to work with. You can get garden forks in several different styles. Some gardening forks have a curve to their spines, so you can use a scooping action when you’re moving and turning compost. Others have straight spines that are better for breaking harder, compacted ground. If you need to turn clay-like soil into something more workable. Many tines are flat but, if you expect to hit resistance when you’re digging into the ground, you should opt for thicker, square-shaped tines instead. They don’t bend or break when they hit something hard underground, like a root or buried rocks.
Loppers are yet another tool you’ll need to cut plants. They’re a lot like pruners but they have longer handles, so they’re ideal for reaching into shrubbery or up at elevated plants. The longer handles also mean you get more leverage, so it can chew through thicker branches and plant matter. Handles vary from 15 to 38 inches.
Those long handles make the tool quite heavy, so it’s best to know what work you’ll be doing before you get a lopper. That way, you can get the right length tool for the job and you won’t need to haul around an overlong piece of equipment. Try to get aluminium or carbon composite loppers if the tool weight is going to be an issue. Like with the pruners we’ve already talked about, you can get them in anvil-style or bypass-style. Loppers also require sharpening to keep them in good working order.
A lot of the tools we’ve covered are used for digging into the soil. With the rake, you clean up the surface of your ground to get rid of leaves and other debris. If there’s a tree in or near your garden, you’ll know how many leaves can pollute your garden when autumn comes around. Rakes are available in many different styles, all intended for different uses. If you’re starting out, a basic leaf rake is ideal and then you can get other rakes later if you need them. You could also get an adjustable rake, which can cover smaller areas or fan out to cover larger spaces. If your garden is full of delicate plants, you may want to consider a rake that has plastic spines on it. Otherwise, steel tines are sturdier and can last longer, though they will be more expensive.
Garden Hose & Watering Can
Without water, your garden is nothing. Get a garden hose that can spray over your entire gardening area. You’ll need to choose a hose diameter that’s best for your garden, so you don’t overwhelm and drown the plants. With an adjustable nozzle, you can cover multiple diameters. You should store hoses away from sunlight and clear any kinks in them as soon as they appear.
You should also get a watering can while you’re thinking about hoses. It doesn’t need to be anything special, it can be made from plastic or metal, though it should be galvanized metal to prevent rust build-up. Two-handled cans are better for those who may struggle to haul a full can around, like the elderly.