Whether you’re a serious gardener, a professional landscaper, or a DIY homeowner, gardening tools are a must have.
A shed full of gardening tools means that you always have the right tool for the job, which in turn means a better looking lawn and garden.
For those of you wondering what the must have, best gardening tools there are, we’ve got you covered. In this post, we’ll dive into not only the must-have hand tools, but also our top pick for each one of those tools.
The 13 Must Have Gardening Hand Tools for Beginners
1) Digging Shovels
Believe it or not, there are a number of shovels out there, but a digging shovel is perhaps the most important garden hand tool out there. Shovels are a millenia-old tool, but these days they are lighter and more ergonomic than ever.
A digging shovel is meant for digging out large volumes of dirt efficiently. They have a rounded blade which ensures easy scooping and cutting, as well as easy dumping of the dirt. The long handles come in steel, wood and fiberglass, each of which have their own benefits. Another important feature of a digging shovel is the step plate. This is the bent edge on the top of the blade, which you stop with your boot in order to git into the dirt. Typically they have D-handles, which make it easier to jam into the dirt Be sure that whatever digger you choose, that the blade is thick enough to be stepped on repeatedly. Get one with a stainless steel blade if possible.
2) Edging Spades
Another one of the many digging tools you’ll need is an edging spade. An edging spade is a bit more precise than the digging shovel. It has a flat blade and is usually a bit smaller. These come as large as a shovel and as small as a hand trowel and are very versatile. Edging spades are great for edging around a garden, flower beds, your curb, or your sidewalk, and can help you cut edges around ditches or rectangular holes. Another great use of an edging spade is to chop through small roots or for heeling in plants. Again, be sure to get one with a strong foot pad. Additionally, if you purchase one with a D shaped handle, it gives you better power and more versatility.
3) Hand Pruners
When you think garden hand tools, you probably think hand pruners. A trusty set of hand pruners is a must-have in your gardening tool set. These are hand-held scissors that help you trim stems of plants and small shrubs with precision. Whether you’re pruning a 1/2 inch branch or cutting off some roses to bring inside, hand pruners are a must have. Be sure to use these hand shears for smaller branches. Also, consider purchasing a heavy duty leather sheath so that you can keep the tools on your belt when gardening. There are three types: anvil pruners, bypass pruners, and ratchet pruners, each with their own pros and cons. The best pruners are more a function of durability, cutting power, and ease of use.
Loppers are hand pruners on steroids. These are shears that are operated with two hands, and are typically 2-3 feet in length. This give you the leverage to chop off larger branches, making them ideal for taming large bushes or even smaller tree branches.
There are two types of loppers out there: bypass and anvil. Bypass are the more common type of garden lopper, which have a single blade that cuts against a thicker base, providing the most precision possible. Anvil loppers cut to the center, making them easier to cut with, but less precise. If personal strength is an issue, go with the anvil variety.
5) 2-Hand Pruning Shears / Hedge Shears
Often loppers get confused with pruning shears. Pruning shears are a type of pruner that is operated with two hands, but has a longer blade, typically 6-9 inches in length. They are also called ‘snips’. These are meant for cutting smaller stems under 1/4 inch in diameter in large quantities. If you need to trim a row of shrubs to precision, 2 hand pruning sheers are the tool for the job. Additionally, you can sharpen them with a variety of file sharpeners to keep a sharp blade. They come with either wood, composite, or metal handles, and with regular or stainless steel blades.
6) Garden Trowels
If you’re working in a garden, a garden trowel is a no brainer. When digging small holes for planting, a garden trowel is the tool of choice. Additionally, you’ll often find yourself using a garden trowel when planting or transplanting flowers, herbs, or other small plants. Even for bigger jobs, garden trowels are a must-have for the final touches and little details. You can even use one to dig up the dandelion plants or other weeds that plague your garden, or to dig around sprinklers or other obstructions. Get yourself a belt sheath so you can tote around your handy hand-trowel all around your garden, as you’ll be using it plenty.
A special type of garden trowel is a transplanter. A transplanter is generally more pointed and thinner, giving you more precision and better root cutting ability when digging out old plants. A must have for anyone planting a vegatable garden.
7) Garden Hoes
Garden hoes are another must have in your garden tool set. They operate a lot like a garden rake, but for digging dirt. You can get them with a fiberglass or wood handle, and the fancier models have telescoping handles.
A garden hoe’s primary use case is digging ditches to plant rows of plants. You chop into the dirt as if you were swinging an axe, then rake the dirt out to form mounds on each side. Then, once you’ve planted your plants or bulbs, you can push the dirt back with the same hoe. Garden hoes are great for weeding when you have an area of dirt covered in weeds, a poor man’s tiller if you will.
Some even have a digging fork or blade on the opposite end of the blade for other uses.
Another age-old tool, a wheelbarrow is a multi-purpose tool required for everyone from everyday professionals to the weekend DIY warriors. There are a variety of wheelbarrows out there, but they all serve the same function. They are open at the top, making them easy to shovel dirt into. They typically have a pointed front of some sort, making it easy to dump out the contents. And they have either one wheel at the front or a wheel on either side. Beds can be plastic, steel, or even stainless steel, and are best waashed out with a hose. There are a lot of varieties out there and all will work; just get the right size for what you need to move dirt, mulch, leaves, or clippings around your lawn & garden.
9) Pruning Saws
Pruning saws have sharp, hard teeth and are designed to cut thicker branches around your garden. Specifically, they are intended to cut live plants. Most are collapsible and range from 12-18 inches in length. These are designed to cut small stems and branches that are too thick for loppers. Be sure you get one with hard sharp teeth and sturdy handle construction, but also be sure that it is easy to use with garden gloves. Don’t want to slip and cut yourself.
10) Hand Rakes
Almost everyone has a leaf rake in their shed, but gardeners also need hand rakes. These are tools 12-14 inches that help you rake leaves and debris within your garden. If you need to get in between plants and rake stuff up you need something with precision that can be operated with a single hand, and that’s what a hand rake does. Unlike leaf rakes, these have a rigid construction, with 3-5 prongs. They are also sturdy enough to break up small amounts of soil, and are great for general cleanup. These can have a fiberglass, steel, or wooden handle. Since you’
A hand weeder is a must have for getting rid of all the invasive weeds that can choke out your plants. They come in two varieties. The first looks like a screwdriver, except the blade is shaped like a fork and is curved. To use this type of weeder, you dig it into the base of the weed, with the center at the stem, then pry up. The second looks more like a hoe or a tomahawk, and you use it similarly, except with a hatchetlike motion.
12) Soil Knifes aka ‘Hori Hori’
A Hori Hori is a shovel with a heavy serraded blade that helps you cut through compacted dirt. Typically they have a sharp point at the end and a flat side as well. They are ideal for cutting the perfect hole to install a new or transplanted plant, though they are not ideal for scooping out dirt (leave that for your hand trowel). Soil knives can also be used for cutting through thin root networks as well, and can even cut through twine if need be.
13) Spreaders or Sprayers
Every garden and lawn needs some sort of fertilizer. Whether you’re using organic or chemical, liquid or granular, you’ll need some way to spread your plant food. Spreaders are generally better for applying fertilizer to grass or large areas of dirt. Sprayers are best if you’re fertilizing pre-existing plants. For more information about fertilizer and how to apply it, we recommend this post by The Wise Handyman.
Other Hand Held Gardening Tools to Consider
While you’ll generally be in a fine spot if you’re just getting into gardening, here are a few products that you might also want to consider:
- An Auguer
- Garden Carts
- Watering Can
- Garden Hose
- Gardening Gloves
Another quick note. Many of these tools have steel construction, and you may wonder if it’s worth getting stainless steel. The answer is ‘it depends’. One, how often is this coming in contact with wet dirt? For shovels and wheelbarrows, that’s pretty likely. The other is use. Are you only a casual user, or are you slaving away daily in your vegetable garden trying to put food on the plate? Investing in high-quality is usually worth it, but of course, we all have to be budget-conscious.
And there you go! These are 12 essential gardening hand tools for beginners. Whether you’re growing veggies, installing a flower bed, or just working with houseplants, you’re in great shape if you’ve got Is there a garden tool that you absolutely have to have? I always love learning about new products, so let me know in the comments below!