River Cottage Australia

10 Basic Tools Every Gardener Needs

Want to get into gardening? You'll need these 10 basic tools to get you started!

Shopping for gardening tools can be an overwhelming experience for a beginner. You need the right tools to do the basics such as weeding, digging, pruning, watering and planting. Using the right tools will make gardening a fun experience.

Paul West fills us in on the 10 basic tools every gardener should have.

1. Spade

These are the square-headed shovels that have short handles. They are perfect for digging, planting holes, edging beds, removing turf, and moving small amounts of soil. Look for a spade with a steel head, a strong wood or fiberglass handle, and fairly chunky footrests. This is a tool you can easily invest some serious cash in: a good spade will last your whole life.

2. Hand trowel

Trowels are perfect for planting small annuals, herbs, and vegetables; planting container gardens, digging out weeds, and mixing potting mixes. If your budget will allow it, look for a trowel that is one piece of forged stainless steel. These are incredibly durable, and usually have a rubber grip. If you can't find a forged trowel, look for a trowel with a stainless steel head and a strong connection to the handle.

3. Digging fork

Digging forks are indispensable for lifting and dividing perennials, loosening compacted soil, and turning compost piles. Be careful in your purchase here: you want a digging fork, which typically has four square tines and foot rests for comfortable digging. You do not want a pitchfork. Though these are wonderful for turning compost and spreading mulches, the tines are too weak for heavy-duty digging and dividing. A good digging fork will have a forged or cast stainless steel head and a fiberglass or hardwood handle. Also look for a D-shaped handle: these are the most comfortable for getting leverage when digging.

4. Hoe

There are several different types of hoes, from the standard garden hoe, to stirrup 'action' hoes and super-thin models designed to get into tight spaces. The type of hoe you select will depend on your garden. Vegetable gardeners would do well to have a standard or stirrup hoe, either of which is perfect for weeding between rows of vegetables. If you have perennial gardens, a more delicate touch may be required, especially if your garden is fairly full.

5. Dandelion digger

These unassuming tools are perfect for digging out any weed that has a long taproot, including plantains, Queen Anne's lace, and, of course, dandelions.

6. Rake

For raking autumn leaves and cleaning out beds in the spring, a good, sturdy rake is a must. Plastic rakes are inexpensive and fairly sturdy. Bamboo and steel rakes are very good for cleaning out perennial gardens without harming emerging plants.

7. Hand cultivator

These hand tools are very useful for removing small weeds and roughing up the soil for seeding, both in containers and in garden beds. Look for a model that is either one piece of forged or moulded steel, or one that has a steel head that is securely attached to a wooden handle.

8. Pruning shears/secateurs

Pruning shears are necessary for all kinds of jobs around the garden, including deadheading, gentle shaping, and removing spent foliage. A good pair can be fairly expensive, though there are many mid-range brands that are of good quality. Look for a pair that you can easily take apart for cleaning and sharpening, and be sure that it fits comfortably in your hand; you will be using your bypass pruners a lot!

9. Loppers

These are absolutely necessary for anyone who has trees and shrubs in their landscape. They are perfect for removing branches up to two inches in diameter, which means that they are well suited for all kinds of pruning and shaping jobs. Look for a pair that has thick, sharp blades, a strong connection between the two blades, but one that can still be taken apart for maintenance, and either wood or fiberglass handles that are attached securely to the blades.

10. Long hose with a rain wand

A long rubber hose, one that can reach to every area of your backyard will save you plenty of stress. You won't have to move hoses, and there won't be any odd corners that you never manage to water. Rubber is best, because it stays fairly pliable. Plastic hoses, especially less expensive ones, tend to be brittle and can be difficult to work with. Look for one with brass couplings rather than plastic; these are much more durable. A water wand or hose-end sprayer is very useful for watering hanging baskets, containers, and providing a gentle mist for seeds and seedlings. Look for one with a few different settings.

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1 comment
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Posted by Norma105Report
Wow, bit out of touch!! Stainless steel is way too soft for handtools unless kept specifically for garden beds which have already been well cultivated, stick with a good carbon steel hand tool if cultivating soil for the first time.
As for getting loppers with wood or fibreglass handles, aluminium extendable handles are so much lighter and more durable for constant work. Extendable handles are an absolute must as they make the tool more versatile. And sharpening any lopper or secateur is a breeze these days with the number of sharpeners available that do not require you to pull your tool apart to sharpen the blade.
Rubber hose?? There are some brilliant hoses available now, with very long warranties, which are designed specifically for Australian conditions and can be left out in freezing conditions, don't become brittle, can be run over by vehicles and do not kink and they are readily available and under $100. You're better off having a number of hoses around the yard, a long hose reduces the pressure you receive at the end of your hose and a really long hose full of water, especially a rubber one, is going to be heavy and cumbersome.
And the main thing with any tool you buy, expensive or mid range, is maintenance and cleaning, you can't cut anything or dig anything with a blunt, rusted tool!!!