10 Essential Gardening Tools, According to the Experts
Gardeners share the tools they can't live without—and neither should you.
Ask any person with a green thumb and they'll tell you the same: A good set of tools makes your gardening endeavors that much smoother. "The right tools can easily turn a frustrating, difficult, sweaty job into a piece of cake," says garden and landscape designer Amber Freda. "They help save time and effort."
Along with expediting the planting and cultivating process, reliable gardening tools can save you lots of money in the long run—which is why they're worth the investment at the outset. "When we use the wrong tool for the task, it is more likely to break, bend, or be less effective," says gardening expert Melinda Myers. "Quality tools last longer, so you will spend less money replacing tools that do not hold up to the task."
How does one separate the superior options on the market from the so-so? Myers says to start by considering the weight of the tool (it should feel substantial!)—but you don't want something that's too heavy to actually use. "Heavier tools can add weight to help with digging, but also require more strength and energy needed to use them," she explains.
Additionally, you'll want stick with tools that are composed of sturdier materials; this mostly applies to the handles, which, when built well, hep the entire tool last longer and save you energy. "Consider the weight and maintenance needs of handles, especially wood verses fiberglass," Myers says. "Fiberglass handles are less likely to break than wooden handles and do not shrink and expand with moisture. Larger and gel grips help reduce stress and extend work time." Looking for more advice to help you select a solid gardening tool? Ahead, we asked our experts to share the options they deem essential for an avid gardener and selected our favorites based on their recommendations.
A Sturdy Shovel
You can't dig holes without a reliable shovel, which is why our experts suggest investing in one that will make it easier for you to burrow plants into the dirt. "Invest in a shovel with a long handle that's securely attached to the blade," says gardening expert Melinda Myers. "If you can find one that has a foot step at the top of the blade, even better."
Shop Now: Razor-Back PowerEdge Wood Handle Round Point Shovel, $25.98, homedepot.com.
A Deep Soil Scoop
You can't remove soil and mulch from bags without a quality soil scoop—and the more comfortable the handle, the better. Constructed from solid stainless steel with an ergonomic beechwood handle, this sleek soil scoop is designed with a deep well and rounded, enclosed sides that prevents soil and compost from spilling everywhere when you transfer it to a pot or planter.
Shop Now: Sophie Conran Potting Scoop, $34.95, williams-sonoma.com.
While pruners are great for cutting smaller branches, stems, and leaves, garden and landscape designer Amber Freda says you'll want to get your hands on a superior set of hedging shears to handle bigger shrubs; our founder's own iteration is certainly up to the task. "Hedging shears work better than pruners for trimming hedges and shaping larger evergreens," she explains. "The longer blades help create a more uniform look and work much faster than pruners."
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Japanese Stainless-Steel Hedge Shears, $64.99, walmart.com.
Steel Fan-Shaped Landscape Rake
No gardening toolbox would be complete without a trusty landscape tool for raking leaves, lifting grass, and spreading mulch around, and our expert says steel fan-shaped options are the way to go. "Steel rakes are sturdier than plastic ones," Freda says. "And a fan-shaped head will help you rake in leaves faster."
Shop Now: Ergie Systems Steel Shaft Strain Reducing Steel Leaf Rake, $29.99, target.com.
An Ergonomic Trowel
Our experts say a sturdy aluminum trowel with an ergonomic handle will make digging holes for smaller plants, like annuals, herbs, and vegetables, a breeze. "A lightweight, but durable trowel made of cast aluminum won't bend like a cheap one when you're digging in heavy clay soil," Myers explains.
Shop Now: Corona eGrip Trowel, $9.36, coronatoolusa.com.
A Heavy-Duty Iron Rake
Make no mistake about it: A heavy-duty rake with a fiberglass handle will work wonders when you're preparing soil for planting. "An iron rake allows you to rake the soil to the proper grade (slightly crowned in the center or smooth)," Myer says. "It also comes in handy when spreading mulch."
Shop Now: Razor-Back Bow Rake, $29.99, dakotariggers.com.
Designed with two sharp blades to quickly cut through branches, stems, and leaves, a good pair of bypass pruners can help save your plants from insects and disease. "Having two sharp blades results in a clean cut that closes quickly, helping to reduce the risk of insects and disease moving in through the wound," Myers says.
Shop Now: FELCO "6" One-Hand Pruning Shear, $55.99, felco.com.
If you don't have a reliable weeding tool as part of your garden setup, Freda says you're not doing your back any favors. "Weeding tools really help remove weeds more easily than by hand," she explains. "Try a standup variety that will keep you from having to bend over as much."
Shop Now: The Floral Society Cape Cod Weeder, $81.50, thefloralsociety.com.
If you aren't already hip to Hori Horis, then now's the time to smarten up. A special knife that doubles as a saw-and-trowel-in-one, these tools are designed to dig and cut right through stubborn weeds and roots. "A Hori Hori allows you to remove weeds—roots and all—with minimal disturbance to surrounding plants," Myers says. "The serrated edge is great for dividing plants and for digging small holes."
Shop Now: Barebones Living Hori Hori Ultimate, $30, barebonesliving.com.
Bypass Lopper with a Long Handle
If you're tending to a lot of shrubs in your garden, Myers says to keep a bypass lopper on hand to help you cut though them quickly (without hurting yourself). "The longer handles extend your reach allowing you to access those hard to reach stems and those larger in diameter," she says. "Some bypass loppers have ratcheting action or other methods that increases the power with less effort on your part."
Shop Now: Corona DualLINK Bypass Lopper, $41.20, coronatoolsusa.com.