Ask any gardener what their favorite tool is, and the answer is bound to change depending on the chore that they’re doing at the time of asking. Look hard enough, and there’s a specialized tool for everything–from seeding to edging borders and any other task you can think of!
But for the gardener who’s just getting started, there are a few tools that stand out from all the rest. We rounded up our team’s favorite tools to comprise this list of the five most essential garden implements.
Pruners are hands down, the most versatile garden tool–particularly if you’re working with flowers. Pruners come in handy for every stage of the growing process, from pinching seedlings to harvesting beautiful blooms.
Pruners are useful for harvesting vegetables too–use pruners to make a clean cut when harvesting ripe cucumbers, eggplant, and beans. Not only that, but pruners come in clutch when it comes time to…drumroll…prune. Trim the bottom leaves on tomato vines, and cut back suckers with a pair of pruners rather than your fingers, since tomatoes don’t like being touched.
In the field, pruners double as a pair of scissors, cutting through twine and Hortanova netting with ease. You might as well invest in a toolbelt to keep this tool on hand at all times.
Hand Trowel/Soil Knife
Transplanting would be nearly impossible without a hand trowel or soil knife. Ideally, tilled soil is so fluffy that you can part it with your bare hands, but that’s never quite how it goes. Whether your garden is till or no-till, there will come a time when you need a hand trowel.
Soil knives are an even more versatile tool than the classic hand trowel. Japanese soil knives, known as Hori–Hori knives, often have serrated edges–so take care when using them in the garden. That serrated edge slices through soil and roots like you wouldn’t believe.
Many soil knives are also crafted with measurements built into the blade that feature both inches and centimeters. Now you have no excuse to not plant your seedlings exactly six inches deep!
I know, dirt under your fingernails feels so good. But when your hands are your livelihood, it’s worth protecting them. You don’t want to nick your hands and then develop an infection. And you never know when you might reach down to pull a weed and come face-to-face with a garden snake–or something worse.
Gloves are so inexpensive, there’s no reason not to keep several pairs on hand–because (like socks!) they always seem to disappear somehow.
It goes without saying that shovels are indispensable in the garden. From digging holes for planting to digging out clumps of weeds–and everything in between–no tool is quite as versatile as the shovel.
Shovels come in a variety of sizes and shapes, so find one that feels good in your hands! You’ll be spending a lot of time with it, after all.
This is one tool you might not have expected on this list, but it makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Keeping plants alive is the ultimate goal of gardening, and no tool is better equipped for that task than the water hose.
Just be sure to find a watering wand to use in place of a standard nozzle–watering wands have an assortment of different settings, from mist to shower to jet, and each has its purpose. Use the mist setting to lightly water delicate seedlings, use the shower to water established plants, and use the jet stream when you need to rinse off garden tools or muddy boots.
Honorable Mention – Auger for Bulb Planting
You may have heard of a bulb auger before, or you may be completely unaware that they exist. Planting bulbs can easily be done with a shovel or a soil knife, but you might want to try a bulb auger when planting tulips or daffodils en masse, especially if you’re shopping at sites like. Their prices decrease with the more bulbs you purchase, so it’s easy to go crazy on dahlias, lilies, and so many other spring- or fall-planted varieties.
Bulb augers look like giant drill bits, and they work essentially the same way. Ranging in size from one to two feet tall, these bits fit nicely into most drills. Once in place, simply press the trigger and point the bit into the ground. In seconds you’ll have a beautiful hole six inches deep, perfectly sized for individual bulbs.
Buying your first garden tools can be overwhelming, but having the right tools on hand will set you up for success from the very beginning. Invest in these six garden tools and your garden will reward you this season with a bountiful harvest and abundant blooms!