Whether you’ve just discovered the art of gardening or you’re a green-fingered enthusiast, one thing’s for sure – having the right kinds of gardening tools will help you get the job done quickly and efficiently.
With so many different types of garden tools available, it can be difficult to know which ones are going to keep Mother Nature at bay and which won’t. So, to make sure you’re using the right tools for the job, we’ve put together this handy garden guide, which features all the essential garden tools you could ever need.
Gardening tools list:
- Planting and weeding tools
- Pruning and cutting tools
- Watering can
Garden spades and shovels
As one of the most basic garden tools, spades and shovels are a must-have for removing or digging up earth. However, it’s important not to confuse the two! A garden shovel has a broad base, which is designed for moving loose materials around, e.g. snow or earth, and will normally have upturned sides to help with the ‘shovelling’ function. In contrast, a spade tends to have a sharp, flat cutting edge, which is why they’re the ultimate digging tool.
Other things to consider include the durability of the spade. The best garden spade or shovel will have a hard-wearing construction, being made of carbon or stainless steel, for example. The height of the spade is important, too, as you’ll want to find the most comfortable height for you. Most spades are 72cm (28in) in height, but longer ones are available if you’re taller. And don’t forget the handle design either – available in T or D shapes, be sure to choose an ergonomic design you can work with for long periods of time.
A fork is a fantastic digging tool, helping to get even the most stubborn plants out of the soil. However, for the more delicate jobs, e.g. weeding garden borders, the best garden fork will be a handheld one, and, when teamed with a garden trowel, you’ll make light work of your tubs, pots, veggie patches and other small areas.
With standard forks, don’t forget about finding the right height and handle to minimise the strain you’re putting on your back and hands.
There are a number of different types of rakes available, so it’s important to get the best garden rake for the job. For example, ones with flexible teeth are lawn rakes, which can be used to remove grass clippings, moss and leaves from your lawn. For removing heavier debris, levelling soil or preparing seed beds, opt for a rake with solid teeth.
Hoes are perfect for weeding large areas, and they also manoeuvre and loosen the earth. To get the best garden hoe, you’ll need to choose between the two different types – a push or pull hoe.
A pull hoe has a blade that’s at a right angle, and to use it you make a chopping action in the soil before pulling the hoe back through it. It’s designed to remove weeds from the top of soil, while also loosening the earth, however, it isn’t the best weeding tool if you want to remove deep-rooted weeds.
To get rid of stubborn weeds and to cultivate the soil, opt for a push hoe (also known as a Dutch hoe). This has a blade that’s at a gentler angle from the handle, looking more like a spade. All you need to do is push it through the soil in a forward motion, driving it below the surface layer.
Pruning and cutting tools
In order to keep your garden in tip-top condition, you’ll want to trim and tidy by using pruning and cutting tools. From trimming hedges to sawing branches, here’s what you need:
For cutting and pruning wood, which is up to 1cm (1/2 inch) thick, secateurs are ideal. As they’re easier to use than a garden knife, they make light work of taking cuttings or trimming smaller shrubs and hedges.
There are a few different types of garden secateurs, including bypass, anvil and ratchet pruners. Bypass pruners have two curved blades that take on the form of scissors, ‘bypassing’ each other as you make the cuttings. These help make a smooth, precise cut, which is why they’re the best secateurs for thin branches and small stems.
Anvil pruners have a single straight blade and are best used for medium-size branches and dead wood. They aren’t suitable for delicate stems as the flat blade tends to crush them. Ratchet pruners are the same as anvil pruners but come complete with a ratcheting mechanism, which helps you get through heavier branches or stems and thick dead wood.
Loppers follow a very similar design to secateurs and are also available in bypass, anvil and ratchet styles. However, to provide you with extra leverage they have extended handles. The largest loppers will be able to cut branches that have a diameter of up to 5cm (2 inches).
If your garden has a lot of tall trees, you might want to invest in a pair of loppers with an extended or telescopic handle. And if you have to contend with branches that are thicker than 5cm, opt for a pruning saw or bow saws. These should also be compact enough to get in between the branches.
Garden shears and knives
To keep a hedge in shape, a pair of pruning shears is ideal. The best garden shears will have ergonomic handles for added comfort as well as hard-wearing blades, which are stainless steel, aluminium or titanium coated, for example. You can also get grass shears which are perfect for achieving a precise lawn edge. And unlike a strimmer, they won’t damage tree bark or shrubs.
And for taking cuttings, pruning and doing general jobs such as cutting string and opening compost bags, a gardening knife is another useful garden tool.
Planting and weeding tools
When it comes to planting bulbs, seeds and saplings, here’s some more garden tools you’ll need to get the job done, including:
A selection of different trowels will allow you to transfer and pot mature plants. However, if you’re working with very young plants, it’s a good idea to opt for a transplantor, which is a specialist trowel that has a narrower head. Some will even come with gauges, which help you plant everything to their required level.
A hand fork (weed fork) usually consists of 2 or 3 metal prongs, and this handheld tool is perfect for getting to grips with stubborn weeds, especially in smaller areas or in and around shrubs.
This is another handheld garden tool you might find useful. With 3 prongs and a compact design, cultivators are ideal for using in borders and beds where you need to loosen or break up the soil. Equally, if you’ve got some weeds that need removing from areas of your garden which are densely planted, the design makes it easy to do this, too.
Other tools used for gardening
For further assistance when you’re planting, add dibbers and bulb planters to your gardening tool list as they’ll help make things easier. Dibbers are ideal for planting small transplants or seeds, while bulb planters add precision to your planting.
Every garden needs a wheelbarrow that’s waiting on standby. When it comes to transporting things around the garden, they’re a lifesaver and because they tip up they’re easy for unloading. However, you will need to master the art of using a wheelbarrow, because if you get your balance wrong you might end up tipping everything over the lawn!
Plastic wheelbarrows are ideal for lightweight items, and tend to be more weatherproof than metal wheelbarrows. However, many modern steel wheelbarrows will have been treated to prevent a build up of rust – just make sure you keep it lubricated and clean to prolong its life.
Although not a ‘garden tool’ as such, gloves are another must-have when you’re getting your hands dirty in the garden. They’re not for everyone, though, as some love the bittersweet feeling of blisters, dirty fingernails and splinters after a hard day’s graft in the garden! But they are a must when you’re dealing with chemicals and other substances.
If you are dealing with chemicals, opt for synthetic materials such as PVC, rubber or latex, while fabric gardening gloves are ideal for wearing for long periods of time as they’ll often be breathable.
Other things to look out for are cuffs, which prevent anything from getting into the glove, as do gauntlets, which also protect your forearms and wrists. What’s more, grip enhancers are perfect if you’re using tools.
As well as the above, you might want to kit out your garden shed with the following:
- Watering cans – an essential for keeping your plants hydrated
- Kneeling pads – perfect for protecting your knees while you’re getting stuck into your flowerbeds
- Kids’ gardening tools – because little hands love to get their hands dirty, too!
- Brushes – for when you make a mess because you’ve got over zealous with your digging
- Garden bags – stronger than standard bin bags, they’re ideal for tidying away rubbish
- Wellingtons and clogs – must-have footwear for the green-fingered
- Plant labels – so you can keep track of what you’ve planted where
How to choose the best gardening tools
Now we’ve got to grips with gardening tools and their uses, here are some top tips as to how you can make sure you’re buying the best gardening tools available:
- Opt for tools that are hard-wearing and are designed for the job in hand – this will make your work in the garden much easier.
- Consider what function you want to get out of the tool. For example, if you’re going to do a lot of planting in a flower border or veggie patch, choosing the right specialist equipment will help get the job done quickly and efficiently.
- Choose a handle that’s suited to your own personal preference. You may find you can work better with short or long handles and may prefer wooden handles to steel handles.
Looking after your garden tools
Once you’ve bought all your essential tools for gardening, looking after them properly will help prolong their life. This means one of the most important things to consider is where you’re going to store these tools. Even the hardiest, most durable tools will start to warp and rust if they’re left out in the elements for a long period of time. So always make sure they’re stored somewhere dry throughout the year.
Finally, after a hard day in garden, take the time to clean your tools and remove any dirt before you put them away. This not only helps keep your shed/garage clean but will also prevent the onset of rust. Using tools that have a mechanism (e.g. secateurs)? To keep them working smoothly and in great condition, treat them with WD40 after each use.
And don’t forget to sharpen any bladed tools using a fine metal file on blunt blades. However, if the blades are incredibly worn or damaged, you should replace them.
You can shop our full garden tools range online at wilko.com