21 Tools Every Gardener Should Have

Earlier this year I wrote a post titled 21 Skills Every Gardener Should Have that offered some suggestions for skills each gardener might require in their gardening repertoire. Yet, while skills are important they’re seemingly redundant unless you have the right garden tools at your disposal.

For instance, what’s the purpose of knowing how to till the soil properly if you only have a stick? Or, amending your soil when you have no idea what’s lacking?

Therefore, it seems a little trite to have all these skills under your belt – when you possibly don’t have a gardening belt.

  1. Trowel – Arguably the most important tool in the garden. While some gardeners don’t require the use of a spade or shovel, all of us need a garden towel. Their effectiveness in transplanting our new purchases or seedlings is second to none.
  2. Secateurs (Garden Shears) – with a trowel and a set of garden shears most of our gardening tasks can be achieved relatively with ease. This hand tool is essential for pruning, taking cuttings for propagation, deadheading spent blooms or cutting flowers for the vase. Rarely would I step out into the garden without a pair in my hand.
  3. Spade – of the larger garden tool necessities, the humble garden spade is a must. Digging, turning the soil, shoveling mulch or prising rocks from the ground the spade deserves a home in any garden shed.
  4. Garden Fork – while a spade can do many things around your yard it can’t equal the usefulness of a garden fork. The separated tines of the fork enable it to perform tasks that a bladed shovel or spade couldn’t. For example, try pitching your spade into a compost heap and you will immediately see how useless it is at this activity. Attempt the same task with a garden fork and it becomes effortless and incredibly efficient.
  5. Hoe – if you want to discuss the benefits of garden hoes then it’s worth your while to read up on Carol’s hoe collection over at May Dream’s Garden. Until I stumbled upon her assortment I thought one was enough – trust me, it’s not!
  6. Rake – this tool is up for debate. While hoes can mostly cater for any soil movement you require, I do find that a rigid rake is essential, especially in areas where rocks and pebbles are abundant. Plus, rakes are great for spreading mulch and have become essential items in Japanese rock gardens.
  7. Dibbler/ Bulb Planter – if you grow bulbs in your garden then you will want to have access to a dibbler stick or a bulb planter. These make the chore of planting out multitudes of bulbs a much simpler task.
  8. Hose – probably one of the most under-appreciated tools is the garden hose. We curse it when it doesn’t wrap properly, we leave it lying in the sun and we blame it for all manner of problems. In reality though, very few gardeners could live without one and it can save ‘watering-can loads’ of time keeping your plants moist and growing.
  9. Lawn Mower – regardless of what many environmentalists claim, most gardeners need a lawn mower. Unless every patch of your yard is garden bed, paved or concreted there will be a need to mow it – even lawn substitutes require mowing at some point. So, while a petrol-guzzling reel mower may not make it to your shed a lightweight push-mower may still be an essential item.
  10. Mulcher – I still don’t get why most gardeners don’t have these. Unless you don’t have the space to compost or garden area where prunings are a regular material, then every gardener should have a chipper shredder. Our garden prunings shouldn’t be going off to landfill but instead be returning back into our gardens.
  11. Spray Kit – while most gardeners will associate a spray kit with chemical usage and avoid them like the plague, the humble sprayer has much more to offer. Spraying your compost tea or organic foliar fertilisers is much easier from one of these tools. However, if you do use chemicals make sure you have a separate one for your fertilisers.
  12. Wheelbarrow – if not a wheelbarrow then at least a mobile cart. Mine comes in useful for carting mulch, compost, soil, mixing potting mix and carrying prunings to the compost heap. It is easily one of the most used tools I have in the garden.
  13. Leaf Rake – for most gardeners, the leaf rake has a short period of use, namely autumn (Fall). But for those who share their gardens with large trees and maintain lawn at the same time, a leaf rake is an essential garden tool.
  14. Gloves – the most controversial of all garden tools, in terms of necessity, are the humble garden gloves. Some swear BY them while others swear AT them. Me, I use them sometimes for different tasks but far prefer getting my hands dirty when it comes to soil.
  15. Watering Can – for places where a garden hose is too cumbersome a watering can is a great tool. And, for smaller gardens they can easily replace a spray pack for feeding liquid fertilisers to your plants.
  16. Soil Testing Kit – there are some good soil tests you can perform within your garden but to be more accurate you can’t ignore a soil test kit. These kits are an invaluable resource for determining nutrient deficiencies and pH scales that could be threatening your plants.
  17. Compost Bin – whether you buy one or make one, a compost bin is a necessity in today’s modern garden. They’ve always been with us, and quite possibly could have become extinct during the last century’s progress, but they have remained a faithful stayer. Any gardener who does not compost in some form or another should seriously assess whether they are a gardener at all. It’s a big claim for the use of a garden tool but they really are that important.
  18. Garden Journal – I began flicking through a garden journal that a friend gave me a few years ago and noted that I haven’t written even one iota of information into it. Maybe I’m slack, but I find that journaling via my blog here has been much easier and more exciting. It keeps all the information I need and has become an archival history of my garden.
  19. Plant Labels – possibly less important the farther you explore gardening as a hobby. Most plant names become committed to memory and don’t require any identification. However, these little resources are helpful when planting out bulbs or sowing seeds or may even be useful if you get lots of visitors to your yard.
  20. Camera – while this tool may not reside in the garden shed along with the rake, spades and trowels it is fast becoming one of my essential resources. Photos of seedlings becoming shrubs; images of bulbs spearing through the soil and then flowering their heads off and keeping a pictorial archive of your garden’s history is a great way to cheer away those winter blues.
  21. Your Health – it may not seem like a tool, but try gardening without it. In fact, one could argue that this is by far our most precious resource and should be cherished above the previous twenty. The irony of our fragile health is that while you can maintain it you can just as easily lose it and once it’s gone it’s very hard to get back. Keep this tool in check and it will be worth having all the others but if you don’t the others won’t be worth one iota.

There you have it – a list that’s hardly exhaustive but certainly complete. Every gardener should possess these 21 garden tools, at least. How did you go? Did you have all twenty-one? Are there some I missed?

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