Essential Tools for Beginning Gardeners

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If you are just getting started growing a garden, looking at the tools you may need can be overwhelming. Well let me tell you a little secret…you don’t actually need ALL the tools. This list of essential tools for beginning gardeners will help you buy just what you need without wasting your money on things you don’t.

Depending on whether you are growing a garden in containers, raised beds, or in-the-ground, there may be a few different tools you will need. Of course, an in-the-ground garden will require a few more tools than a container garden will.

I’ve broken the lists into 3 categories: accessories, tools, and then tools you need for in-the-ground gardening. First, let’s cover the essential accessories all gardeners need, whether you are growing flowers, vegetables, fruits, or just a few herbs in a pot on the back deck.

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Essential Accessories for Beginning Gardeners

small garden accessories for the beginner
While a few of these items may not seem like essential garden tools, you will quickly learn that they will make gardening so much easier. You probably already have a few of these items!

Garden Gloves

I think a good pair of gardening gloves may very well be the most important gardening tool you can buy. Working in the dirt takes a toll on your hands, drying them out and ???

Personally, I like to have two kinds of gardening gloves. I love the latex coated type for wet, messy chores like planting vegetables and pulling weeds. I tend to buy several pairs of these at once because I go through a pair or two a year and my kids sometimes lose them after helping me in the garden.

If you want a nicer pair, these bamboo gloves are even touchscreen friendly. While I haven’t used them yet, I am purchasing a pair to test out this year.

Kids helping in your garden? These cute gloves would make gardening more fun for the littles. I especially like this brand because they come in multiple sizes so you can find small gloves for even the youngest gardeners.

However, for tasks like picking vegetables, that require a bit better dexterity, I prefer this particular brand of gloves. Yes, they are more expensive than the rubber or latex coated type, but a single pair of these has lasted me over 5 years with almost daily use during the growing season.

They come in pretty colors and I’ve washed mine several times and they still look great. You can’t say that about many other types of gloves.

Plant Labels

Plant tags are a great way to label plants so that you don’t forget what you planted where. I used to use popsicle sticks but by the end of the season, they had rotted. Then I wasn’t sure what variety I had planted in each spot so I could make notes in my garden journal.

So last year, I decided to break down and buy some plant markers. I loved this type so much for my outdoor garden that I even bought some smaller ones to use when I start seeds. I highly recommend some sort of plant tags to identify your plants!

Sharpie

I love using a sharpie to write on the plant tags. The sharpie will usually last all season. Many times rubbing alcohol will remove the sharpie at the end of the season you can reuse the tags year after year.

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Scissors

You always need a pair of scissors in the garden. I use them to snip string and twine to tie up plants, but they are also useful for cutting off dead leaves. I also use scissors to harvest many of my vegetables.

I actually prefer cheap ones because I scatter throughout my garden area and leave them there all summer long. Many times you can find them at the Dollar Tree!

Twine

Gardening twine is another item that I can’t live without in my garden. I use it for tying up tomato plants to making trellises for my cucumbers and beans.

I much prefer biodegradable twine as it can easily be composted with the regular garden debris. If you purchase plastic ties or the stretchy garden tape, you will have to pick up each piece at the end of the gardening season.

Kneeling Pad

A kneeling pad is a must for anyone that gardens in raised beds or grows their vegetables in an in-the-ground garden. A kneeling pad makes bending over and tending plants more comfortable on your knees. It also will keep your clothes much cleaner.

You can purchase inexpensive ones that you place on the ground, but there are also nicer ones that you can flip over and turn into a bench to sit on.

Essential Tools for Beginning Gardeners

To grow a great garden, you do need a few tools, but you most certainly don’t need everything or even the most expensive tools. This list shares to tools that will definitely make your gardening experience more pleasant.

small garden tools
These hand tools are the workhorses of a small garden. Having good tools will make your gardening experience much more fun.

Trowel

A garden trowel is a must no matter what type of garden you grow. You can use it to dig up stubborn weeds but it is also the tool you will reach for when planting transplants into your garden.

If you are a flower grower, a trowel will come in handy when planting bulbs too.

Pruners

Every gardener needs a set of pruners. You will be surprised at how often you find yourself using them. I often use my pruners to trim off stems of an unruly tomato plant, cut back a raspberry bush that escaped my fence, or even a few branches from a tree that keeps trying to hang over my garden.

If you are the type of person who always remembers to take care of your tools and clean them regularly and not leave them in the garden, I would spring for a more expensive pair. If you are like me, buy the cheaper ones.

Garden Knife

I didn’t think a garden knife, also called a Hori Hori knife, was necessary until my sister bought me one. I use it all the time. Most come with measurements so that you know how deep to plant seeds and plants.

They are great for cutting around the roots of a plant you need to remove. You can pull the plant out without accidentally disturbing plants near it.

Hand Cultivator

A hand cultivator or weeder is the perfect tool to loosen weeds that are just starting to appear in the garden. You can buy the type with just the weeder, but I love the kind with a small hoe on the other side.

You can use it to loosen up the soil before planting and cut out any stubborn weeds that just won’t seem to come out of the ground. I think you’ll be surprised at how often you use a hand cultivator if you get one.

Watering Can

Everyone needs a good watering can to hand water seedlings, newly transplanted plants, or that one vegetable that just seems to need a little extra water. There are so many cute designs from bright plastic colors, to galvanized steel, to copper that there is a watering can out there for everyone.

Hose

A good garden hose is a must for any gardener. Unless you just have a pot or two, a garden hose will save you from having to make multiple trips to and from the faucet hauling water.

I can’t really advise whether you should get a regular hose or a flexible one because it really depends on user preference. I will say that the flexible hoses are easier to maneuver in the garden, but mine keeps drawing back up while I’m still watering my plants.

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Spray Nozzle

Of course, you need something to hook that garden hose to so that you don’t blast your plants out of the ground with a stream of water. A good spray nozzle is definitely more important than the type of hose you choose.

Some people prefer a simple spray nozzle while others prefer a watering wand. Whichever you choose, be sure it has several settings. You’ll need a fine mist to water newly transplanted vegetables, but grow weary of waiting on the fine mist to water your entire garden during the dog days of summer.

Essential Tools for An In-The Ground Garden

If you are growing an the ground vegetable garden, there a few more tools you will need. If you’ve been growing flowers, you may already have these in your garage or shed. However, if you don’t I highly recommend purchasing the following tools. If you try to garden without them, you will definitely have your work cut out for you!

dirty shovel and rake
A well-used shovel and rake in need of a good cleaning before spring.

Shovel

If you decide to grow blueberry bushes or fruit trees, you will definitely need a shovel. However, if you’ve done any type of landscape work around your house, you probably already have one anyway. While a sharpshooter is ideal for digging holes for trees and shrubs, a regular shovel will work just fine if that’s all you have.

Rake

A rake is usually necessary for an in-the-ground garden. You will need it to smooth the beds after tilling but it is the perfect tool to cover long rows of bean and pea seeds too.

While you may already have a leaf rake, it is really not strong enough to stand up to garden use. You definitely need to spend the money on a garden rake also.

Hoe

There are so many types of hoes you can purchase that it can often seem overwhelming. I recommend starting with just one type, either a “D hoe” or a “warren hoe.”

A “D hoe” is sometimes just called a garden hoe, but the blade looks like the letter “D.” The D hoe is great for digging up weeds and covering your seeds.

It’s not quite as effective as the “warren hoe” at making trenches for seeds, but turned at an angle it will work if that’s all you’ve got. I found this D hoe with an extra handle that I think would make gardening much easier on your back.

The “warren hoe” is the hoe with the pointed blade. It is useful for weeding up close to your vegetables. With the smaller point, you aren’t as likely to accidentally remove a vegetable when weeding. This hoe is also the best for making trenches in long rows to plant seeds.

Tools and Accessories for Starting a Garden

So while it doesn’t cost a lot to start a garden, these are a few tools and accessories that will make growing a garden much easier. I recommend purchasing well-built tools so that you don’t have to replace them often. Many will last a lifetime if properly cared for.

However, if you are on an extremely limited budget and still want to grow a garden, check out your local Dollar Tree. They often have gardening gloves, trowels, scissors, and even garden seeds. Just because you can’t afford the best tools doesn’t mean you shouldn’t grow a garden. Happy Gardening!

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garden tools for the beginning gardener
These hand tools are the workhorses of a small garden. Having good tools will make your gardening experience much more fun.

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