A Beginner’s Guide to Gardening Tools

A Beginner's Guide to Gardening Tools

Gardening can be a relaxing hobby, as well as a money-saving endeavor, depending on what you grow in your garden. No matter whether you decide to grow flowers, plant vegetables, or specialize in herbs, the right tools are very important to your success as a gardener. The following guide will help beginners to choose from the multitude of available gardening tools and gadgets.


A spade can be used for turning previously uncultivated soil, digging holes for planting and fencing, digging irrigation ditches, and other jobs that require moving earth. There are four major categories of spades with progressively narrower blades: Garden spades are best for bigger jobs and big people, border spades are better for smaller people, rabbiting and hedging spades are best used in confined spaces or around plants. For your first spade, you should go for a border spade, since it is the most versatile and can be used for bigger digging jobs if necessary.


You will need a hoe for breaking up soil, weeding, and earthing up plants. There are five categories of hoes: The Dutch hoe is best for general weeding and breaking up soil. The Canterbury hoe is a three-pronged hoe used mainly to cultivate heavy soil. The draw hoe is used for weeding, earthing up, and making rows for vegetable seeds. It can also be used for breaking up soil in smaller areas. The onion hoe is sharpened on the sides as well as along the bottom edge and is best used for weeding in confined spaces or around plants. The warren hoe has a heart shaped blade that is mainly used for making furrows. Your first hoe should probably be a draw hoe, since it will do all the jobs a hoe is supposed to do.


Rakes are used to break up soil finer than hoes, remove debris, earth up plants, and spread manure. The major categories of rakes are border rake, flat rake, and leaf rake. You will only need a leaf rake if you have a lawn. A border rake is ideal for small or confined spaces, while a flat rake works better in larger areas. The border rake is the more versatile one, but will cause you more work if you have a large area to work on.


Forks are usually four-pronged, and are used for digging out plants, breaking up soil, and turning compost or manure. Garden forks are the best choice for digging in heavy soil. The border fork will do all the jobs, and will work better in confined spaces, so is the best choice as your first fork. The potato fork is best for lifting plants, since it has flat tines. The spiking fork is specifically designed to aerate lawns. Other forks are the Canterbury for work in heavy soil, and the cultivator fork, which has curved prongs for work close to plants.


Trowels are used for making planting holes. Hand trowels have wider blades than rockery trowels. Either one would be a good buy for the beginning gardener.

Pruning Tools

If you will be working with shrubs or trees, you should look into getting a set of these. Secateurs or pruners have short blades and short handles, and are used for cutting small twigs. They also work well for cutting flowers. Shears have bigger blades and bigger handles. They are used for trimming topiary or hedges. Loppers are short bladed with long handles. They are good for cutting thicker branches. For heavy duty jobs, pruning saws are the best tool. For the average gardener, pruners will do most jobs, but if you have a lot of trees and big shrubs, and plan on doing your own pruning, a property management expert will advise you to invest in loppers and a saw as well.

Other Tools and Accessories

A watering can, a wheelbarrow, gloves, knee pads, a stool, and gardening books are all good things to have. While they are not essential to the job, they will make the gardener’s life easier and more comfortable.

When buying tools, always choose the best quality you can afford. Make sure they feel right in your hands and are a good fit for you. Avoid riveted blades as they will break more easily. Go for solid or welded blades. If you keep your tools clean, sharp, and in good repair, they will last a lifetime.


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