Most yards and properties require landscaping tools and equipment such as lawn sprinklers, electric lawn mowers, and weed wackers to use for maintenance. If the property also includes a garden site or flower beds, additional tools are often necessary.
Gardens require regular care and upkeep. How frequently you attend to gardening tasks like weeding, watering, planting, arranging, and landscaping depends on the varieties of plants you have in your growing zone. For regular maintenance, having the proper gardening tools will help your plants, flowers, and vegetables grow and bloom to the best of their potential. In this guide, some of the best gardening tools for all skill levels are featured to help you achieve a successful garden.
- BEST OVERALL: The Gardener’s Friend Pruners, Ratchet Pruning Shears
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Abco Tech Garden Tools Set – 9 Piece Gardening Kit
- BEST SPADE: Fiskars 46 Inch Steel D-handle Square Garden Spade
- BEST RAKE: Bully Tools 92309 12-Gauge 16-Inch Bow Rake
- BEST GARDEN FORK: Radius Garden 203 PRO Garden Stainless Steel Digging
Not all gardening tools are made the same. Some tools have multiple functions, whereas others are intended for a specific task. Additionally, gardening tools feature different materials and designs for both the handle and the blade, all of which affect their functionality and durability. But which tools are the most useful for different gardening tasks? Here are several considerations to keep in mind to find the best gardening tools for specific tasks.
Planting, pruning, weeding, and cultivating are all part of gardening. All these tasks could require a different type of gardening tool. The names of gardening tools can be deceiving as well. A rake is one of the most essential gardening tools, but do you know the difference between a garden rake and a leaf rake? You may not realize that a secateur is just another word for shears and that long-handled pruning shears are called loppers or bypass loppers.
The most basic gardening tools are a garden rake, shears, a spade, a garden fork, a trowel, a hose with a versatile nozzle, a hoe, a watering can, gloves, and (if it’s a large garden) a wheelbarrow. Learning what makes a well-manufactured tool versus a low-quality one is also important.
Size and Weight
It’s important to find a balance between durability and usability when purchasing any gardening tool—and cost is definitely a consideration as well. A smaller and lighter gardening tool, while less expensive, may not last as long. When in doubt, spending a little more money on a high-quality, well-built gardening tool that will endure the elements without weighing you down is a solid bet.
If you are working on a small flower bed with minimal growing areas, then a smaller, lighter tool will be a better option. These lighter tools will allow more flexibility and precision when working in tighter spaces. More extensive working gardens require heavier, sturdier tools that may require you to use your whole body. If you have to dig out a small boulder, you won’t get very far with an aluminum trowel.
The three primary materials for the blade components of gardening tools are stainless steel, aluminum, and plastic. Stainless steel is a heavier material but is also superior in durability and effectiveness than other materials. Aluminum is more lightweight, making it easier to tote these tools around, but they are much more susceptible to damage. If you have hard, rocky soil, aluminum might not be the best choice. Despite its cost-effectiveness and lightweight qualities, plastic is not recommended because it is too fragile to produce durable gardening tools.
Wood is the traditional material for most handles and shafts on gardening tools due to its cost-effectiveness, durability, and moderate weight. However, wood is more susceptible to breakage and deterioration from climate conditions than treated steel, plastic, and fiberglass. For larger gardening tools, fiberglass handles are slightly more expensive but very durable and lightweight. A steel shaft or handle is also a durable option without being much heavier than fiberglass.
Handle and Grip
Ratchet handles feature a locking mechanism to relieve you from having to constantly compress a gardening tool as you work. These handles are especially helpful for individuals who suffer from joint and muscle ailments. If the handle is made of wood, linseed oil can help clean and preserve it; just be sure to properly dispose of rags or towels that have been used to apply linseed oil. Plastic handles are suitable for smaller tools because they can be sculpted into ergonomic shapes that are easier to grip. However, plastic handles are not suitable for larger tools because they can’t handle the leveraging pressure and will snap easily.
Rubber coating on grips and handles can help alleviate wear and tear on your hands. Keep in mind that regardless of the ergonomic or fatigue-relieving features any handle or grip might offer, it’s still a good idea to wear a quality pair of gardening gloves to avoid scratches and cuts from branches, stones, and thorns.
Our Top Picks
Considering the factors listed above—in addition to cost and your specific tasks—the available choices were pruned down to some of the best gardening tools on the market, no matter your skill level. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!
If you suffer from a weak grip, painful joint inflammation in your hands, or other mobility issues, but still love to get out in the garden, consider these pruning shears by The Gardener’s Friend. Developed by professional gardeners with over three decades of experience, these pruning shears feature a three-stage ratchet system that locks the pressure onto a stem or a branch, saving your hands from overexertion. They can prune and cut plants as small as a flower blossom up to a 1-inch thick branch with ease and comfort.
These pruning shears also boast an ergonomic handle appropriate for left- or right-handed gardeners, along with rubber padding that helps absorb pressure on the hands. The hardened carbon steel blade stays sharp due to a special “channel coating” that prevents it from dulling. Typically, an aluminum frame would not be as durable as steel, but in this case, the lightweight metal makes this gardening tool easy to handle and impervious to rust.
Those starting out on a gardening adventure for the first time will likely want to purchase various tools to help their gardens flourish. This Garden Tools Set from Abco Tech includes a nine-piece, stainless steel collection of essential tools that are designed to last. The tools come with a handy multi-pocketed, double gauge cotton tote bag, making it easy to cart them around the garden all day long. Multiple exterior side pockets help keep the tools securely in place.
The tote bag includes a transplanting tool, a weeder, a trowel, a fork, a rake, a cutter, and a 25-ounce sprayer, plus a bonus pair of gloves. The comfortable and ergonomic tool handles are crafted of all-natural wood. Although a few larger tools like a spade and a rake would still be necessary to complete an essential set, this kit is an excellent start.
This square garden spade from Fiskars features a welded, 14-gauge hardened steel blade and an 18-gauge steel shaft. The resilient, sharpened steel blade cuts easily into dense soil and is highly durable for even the rockiest and hardest soil. People frequently refer to spades as shovels, but a shovel is actually a longer, more angled tool, and its blade is curved into more of a scoop, whereas a spade is a shorter tool with a flat blade that is generally more useful for gardening.
The spade’s durable grip provides better two-handed control when working with soil or cutting turf. An extra-large foot platform enables maximum force to break up hardened soil clods.
Additionally, the powder-coated steel is rust-resistant and makes it easy to clean. If you want to move a lot of soil, a shovel is likely a better choice, but for cutting through thick turf or digging a planting hole, this shorter, easily maneuverable spade is ideal.
Whether you are a beginner gardener or have been gardening for years, this rake from Bully Tools is likely the sort of tool you need in your gardening tool kit. A bow rake for gardening is not to be confused with a leaf rake, which has a wide fan of long, thin metal or plastic strips called tines. The tines of a bow rake are almost exclusively made of metal and bend down from the head at a 90-degree angle. Bow rakes are used for moving, leveling, and spreading soil.
This rake is 100 percent American made and designed with a resilient, extra-thick, commercial-grade, 10-gauge steel head and a high-strength fiberglass handle. The fiberglass handle is superior in two ways, as it is more lightweight and resists breakage much more effectively than a wood handle, which makes for better control. A smaller, hand-held garden fork would be more suitable for breaking down soil in between plants, but when it comes to managing bigger areas of soil, this sturdy, larger rake will streamline the job.
Make it easier to maintain your garden’s productivity and finish jobs quicker and easier with this stainless steel digging fork from Radius Garden. A garden fork (also called a digging fork, spading fork, or graip) is a gardening tool with a handle and four short, sturdy tines. It is best suited for loosening, lifting, and turning over soil in both gardening and farming. A garden fork is similar to a pitchfork, which has two to five tines and is used for lifting and pitching loose material, such as straw, hay, or leaves.
This garden fork features a durable resin-encased carbon steel shaft, enabling you to dig more easily without worrying about breaking the shaft as you might with a wooden tool. It is also an ideal tool to dig up bulbs and aerate the soil to prepare for fertilizer application. You can also use it to turn over your compost pile or break up hard clumps of clay in your garden.
If you still have some general questions about gardening tools, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the most common questions about gardening tools and their corresponding answers to set you on the path to happy gardening.
Q. What are basic gardening tools?
The most basic gardening tools are a rake, shears or loppers (long-handled shears), a spade, a gardening fork, a trowel, a hose with a suitable nozzle, a hoe, a watering can, gloves, and (if it’s a large garden) a wheelbarrow.
Q. What tools do I need to start a vegetable garden?
Some of the essential tools for a vegetable garden include a trowel, a spade, twine with stakes, a watering can, a hoe, and a rake.
Q. How long do gardening tools last?
With the proper care and maintenance, and provided they are made of durable materials, gardening tools can last a lifetime.