Every gardener has a handful of garden tools that are constant companions. Each tool in its own way makes those garden chores that much faster and more enjoyable. While tools certainly can vary in different regions with different climate and soil conditions, a gardener does the same basic tasks throughout the world. It’s these simple actions of cultivating the soil, growing and maintaining crops, and harvesting that become so much easier and faster with the right tools. The old saying of use the right tool for the right job never rings truer than in the garden.
For many years, we acquired new garden tools very haphazardly. We would pick them up at garage sales, estate sales, or receive them as gifts. When a garden tool broke, we would replace it with something that worked well enough to get us by (and more importantly fit our budget). Nowadays, we look at our tools as investments and occasionally splurge for great quality. We abide by a few rules when buying our garden tools to get the best quality tool for the job that is going to last us for many seasons. Ultimately we tend to rely on the same collection of garden tools every season.
These are our 10 essential garden tools that we use on our little homestead (with affiliate links).
This may seem like an all too obvious choice, but it’s an important one nonetheless. None of my garden tools have ever (or probably will ever) be used more than my shovel. With this level of use, I have broken more shovels than anything else. This is why getting the right shovel is so important. We have used an old Ames shovel for many years with no complaints. It will need a replacement one of these days, and I already have one in mind. The Fiskars Steel Shovel is extremely durable and backed by the great Fiskars warranty.
My pick – Fiskars Steel D-Handle Digging Shovel
2. Garden fork
A heavy duty pitchfork or a digging fork is invaluable when it comes to turning compost, spreading mulch, and gently loosening soil. With the right garden fork, you can do so much. They are even great for double digging. We have used an Ames 4-Tine Spading Fork for a few seasons, and it has shown no signs of giving up anytime soon.
My pick – Ames 4-Tine Spading Fork
Our broadfork has been a recent addition to our arsenal. It is the one tool I wish I had all these years that I have been double digging , building a hugelkultur, or battling with a beat up old rototiller. Broadforks loosen the soil beautifully, and if you get the right one, they can last forever. While they can take some muscle, broadforks are incredibly easy to use. Plus they are great for the health of the soil. Our Meadow Creature broadfork is built extremely tough and backed with an amazing warranty.
My pick – Meadow Creature Broadfork
4. Metal garden rake
I probably use our metal rake for far more chores than it should be used for. It’s our go to for leveling and smoothing out beds, but it comes through for all kinds of garden cleanup. Our basic garden rake has endured a great deal of abuse because it is used so much. We use an old Ames garden rake that is in need of replacing soon. This is what we plan on adding. Again, it’s hard to go wrong with Fiskars products with their warranty. This lightweight durable rake will soon be hanging out in my gardens.
My pick – Fiskars 61 inch Garden Rake
5. Garden Hoe
For so many years, I skipped over using a garden hoe at all instead opting for good old fashioned hand weeding. As my gardens got bigger, this became more and more impractical and a garden hoe quickly became an easy way to save strain and increase the area I could cover. We picked up a pretty solid basic garden hoe last year at an estate sale that will likely last us for a few years at least. The key to getting a great garden hoe is not only getting a sturdy tool but also to have an edge that can be sharpened and stay sharp. Rogue garden hoes have been on my wish list for many years. The are the toughest best quality hoe out there with a reasonable price tag. I have never heard any complaints about them.
My pick – Rogue Garden Hoe
6. Hori hori knife
There are some garden tools that become instant favorites and constant companions from the moment they come home. My hori hori knife was certainly an instant success story. I have desired one for some time but never thought it was a must-have. With one in hand, I quickly realized that hori hori knives can pretty much do anything. It makes weeding, transplanting, and dividing plants a breeze. Plus it can rip through the toughest weeds and roots with ease. Now, I never leave home without it (when I’m headed to the garden). I can’t believe I didn’t buy one sooner. I use a Truly Garden hori hori knife Kristyn’s folks got me inspired from our gardener’s wish list and I love it. It’s still pretty new to me but it feels like it will last me a very long time.
My pick – Truly Garden Hori Hori Knife
7. Hand cultivator & tiller
When we let a certain area get a little out of hand and the weeds start to take over, the situation can become overwhelming. While our hori hori knife is great for digging out deep roots, I always reach for our hand cultivator when there is a bigger area that needs a serious weeding. One side works as a tiller loosening up the soil making it easy to rake away the weeds. The other side works as a mattock helping you chop through tough roots. You can cover a lot of ground with a good hand cultivator. I prefer the types that are made with high-quality steel with a wood handle.
Pruners are a basic necessity in nearly any garden. Pruning is a constant chore, one that never seems to be quite finished. Having a pair of pruners that makes clean straight cuts without straining your hand can make all the difference in the world. We have a pair of Fiskars Pro Pruners that work incredibly well. They stay sharp and cut with little effort. My all time favorite type of pruners are Felco F-2’s. No pruner cuts straighter or stays sharper. They are truly built to last a lifetime.
What I use – Fiskars Titanium Bypass Pro Pruner
My favorite – Felco F-2 Classic Pruner
9. Pruning saw
When you need to cut a branch that is too thick for your pruners, it’s time to break out the pruning saw. The same principles apply with great pruning saws and great hand pruners. You want a durable saw that cuts easy and straight without losing its sharpness. My go-to has always been a Corona Razor Tooth Folding Pruning saw. It’s still going strong after many years. It has been used for some very large branches that could have easily taken a small chainsaw.
10. Watering wand with water breaker nozzle
One of the most important parts of gardening is watering. It’s often overlooked and is as much an art as a science. Having a watering wand with water breaker nozzle gives you a soft aerated flow of water. It is delicate on the soil and helps prevent soil from splashing out of pots or back onto plants. The wands let you reach places and water more directly thus wasting less water. Dramm watering wands and breaker nozzles have been my favorite after using them for many years working in a greenhouse. They are durable and water beautifully. I have never found anything that lasts as long or works as well as Dramm wands and nozzles.
My pick – Dramm 30” One Touch Rain Wand