All the Tools You Need to Start Gardening
Itching to get your hands in the dirt, or gift a beginner gardener? Start with these must-haves.
For every hands-on hobby or at-home task, success is simpler if you have the right tools. Gardening is no different. In fact, good gardening requires a certain set of go-to tools to get the job done and done right. Basic items like shovels, pruners and hoses come to mind, but there is more to it than making a list. Selecting the right shovel for the job, or the very best pruners or the most convenient hose makes a difference in the long run. As a professional gardener with 25 years of hands-in-the-dirt experience, I know what you need to succeed in your own front yard or vegetable plot. Here’s my list of must-have garden tools broken down into five key categories.
Cloth gloves with nitrile palms are the closest thing to gardening barehanded, allowing you to perform even the most delicate tasks. The cloth breathes well while the nitrile coating protects fingers and palms. For tougher tasks choose goatskin gloves. They are supple yet strong.
Straw or mesh hats with wide brims are best to keep sun off your face and neck while keeping your head cool. Hours in the sun add up while gardening, so sun block designed to stay on when you sweat is crucial to protect your skin.
Bed Prep and Planting
An eighteen-inch steel trowel with an elongated handle makes quick work when digging holes in compacted or prepared soil. Or skip the trowel and graduate to a soil knife, or Japanese hori hori. They cut into the ground with ease and make planting small plants a breeze.
Plastic barrows are lighter and easier to maneuver than metal but strong enough to hold loads of mulch, soil and stone. A two-wheeled barrow is even easier to work with.
Pruning and Harvesting
Either holstered at your hip or tucked into a pocket, these are for those countless clips to shoots and roots, as well as opening bags, trimming string and cutting most everything. Invest in a top-quality pair that can be dismantled, cleaned and repaired. Felco hand pruners are hands down the best brand around.
Used for efficiently cutting large swaths of thin or soft stems, shears are for hedging, cutting back large ornamental grasses or masses of perennials. The most important trait in shears is weight. Lighter is better so find a pair with aluminum handles.
For cutting branches too big for loppers and up to six inches in diameter, depending on your strength and stamina. Razor teeth designed to cut on the push and pull get the job done fast. An eighteen-inch fixed blade in a scabbard is great, but small folding saws are handy for impromptu jobs.
Feeding, Watering and Weeding
Lightweight and easy to maneuver, cordless, battery-powered trimmers are the best choice for cleaning up those edges of the lawn along planting beds and paths. They pack the same punch as gas trimmers, but are infinitely quieter, less likely to breakdown and are easier to maintain.
Oscillating or pulsating sprinklers that hook up to a hose can be positioned right where they’re needed for supplemental water during droughts or for lawn renovations with sod or seed.
Made of durable nylon, an eight-foot square or larger tarp is a handy way to haul light materials like autumn leaves to the composting pile.