13 essential gardening tools for beginners

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Gardening is a rewarding hobby that can bring you closer to nature while adding beauty and life to your outdoor space. When gardening in a kitchen garden you even can eat your own produce which is even more rewarding. Whether you’re looking to cultivate a few potted plants on your balcony or embark on a larger gardening project in your backyard. Having the right tools at your disposal is essential but which gardening tools are essential?

For beginner gardeners, a carefully chosen selection of tools can make the difference between a flourishing garden and a frustrating one. In this blog post, I’ll explore a list of essential gardening tools for beginners to help you get started on your green thumb journey.

Why are these gardening tools essential for beginners? When you are at the beginning of your gardening journey you’ll most likely have a small garden. Every essential tool in this blog post is designed to be used in a small garden. These gardening tools are all available in your nearest garden center or, of course as everything, on the internet.

So without further ado, here are the 13 gardening tools I think are essential for beginning gardeners:

1. A hand pruner or pruning shears

Hand pruners or pruning shears are used for cutting and trimming small branches, stems, and foliage. They are ideal for maintaining the shape and health of your plants. Furthermore, it can help you remove dead or overgrown growth.

Hand pruner on a wooden table
A small pruner will be sufficient for most of the pruning work in a small kitchen garden

There are different types of hand pruners, you have the straight blade pruner. Superb for deadheading flowers and small, delicate pruning work. You have the bypass pruner to cut green wood or flexible stems. Furthermore, we have the anvil pruner which is used for pruning woody stems, branches, and old wood. And last but not least, the ratchet pruner, a heavy-duty pruner for tough stems.

2. Garden gloves

Protecting your hands from dirt, thorns, and sharp objects is crucial when gardening. A good pair of gloves will keep your hands comfortable and injury-free while you work in the soil and tend to your plants.

Garden gloves with some weeds on top of them
Very rarely will you see me work in the garden without gloves, they will protect your hands while working in the garden

Moreover, if you’re anything like me (and it’s not easy to confess), spiders, worms, and all other sorts of insect life, while blessings for the garden, can be a source of discomfort for those of us who’d rather not handle them with bare hands. Therefore I use a sturdy pair of garden gloves. It functions as a barrier between me and all the “wildlife” in the garden and therefore I love them!

3. Rake

A garden rake is essential for leveling soil, removing debris, and preparing the ground for planting. It helps create a smooth, even surface in your garden bed, making it easier for your plants to grow.

a garden rake with soil underneath it
Use a rake to level soil, prepare the ground for planting, remove debris, or even out mulch

You can buy a hand rake for small jobs in the garden and larger garden rakes for leveling greater patches in the garden.

4. Garden hoe

A garden hoe is a versatile tool that’s great for weeding and cultivating the soil’s surface. It allows you to remove weeds and aerate the topsoil efficiently. This trusty tool is excellent for weeding, effortlessly uprooting unwanted plants, and keeping your garden beds tidy.

a garden hoe on a patch of grass
The gardening hoe is great for weeding and cultivating the soil in your garden

Additionally, a garden hoe aids in shaping rows for planting, creating furrows for seeds, and loosening compacted soil. Its simple yet effective design and wide range of applications make the garden hoe a must-have tool. Just like the garden rake, this type of tool comes in two sizes. A hand hoe and a larger garden hoe, choose one depending on the size of your garden.

5. Garden fork or digging fork

The garden fork, or digging fork, excels at loosening compacted soil and aerating it, creating an environment where plant roots can thrive. It has a long handle and therefore is a great option when it comes to heavy work like breaking up heavy soil, hard soil, or clay soil, ensuring proper drainage and root penetration.

a garden fork surrounded by plants and a treestump
When you want to break up heavy soil a digging fork is the tool you’ll need

Additionally, a garden fork is indispensable when it comes to digging up large root vegetables or transplanting shrubs and small trees. Its ability to turn over soil and mix in compost or organic matter makes it a versatile companion in maintaining a healthy and vibrant garden.

6. Watering can or soaker hose

To keep your plants thriving, you’ll need a watering can or a hose for convenient watering. Adequate hydration is vital for plant health and growth. If you also have a rain barrel, and not a really big garden, using a watering can will have my preference. It will save you money and, above all, rainwater if not polluted is the best choice for watering your precious plants.

tomato plants watered by a watering can
By watering via a watering can you can water your plants very precisely

7. Pruning saw

For cutting larger branches and woody growth, a garden pruning saw is indispensable. It allows you to maintain the shape and size of your shrubs and trees. Mind you, I would only assume this is an essential gardening tool if you have trees or bushes with thick woody branches. For small bushes or branches, you can perfectly use a hand pruner in my opinion.

8. Hori-hori knives or soil knifes

Removing weeds from the root is made much easier with a hori-hori knife. This soil knife with a, somewhat, sharp blade helps keep your garden weed-free. It is a small, handheld tool that is indispensable for tasks like digging holes (small ones) for planting, transplanting seedlings, and weeding. Its compact design and sharp edge make it perfect for precision work in the garden. If you’re planning on keeping a kitchen garden you will come across stubborn weeds, this is the tool to get to the root cause of the weeds! Next to its excellence in removing weeds a hori hori knife is also super handy when you want to dig a small hole. For instance for planting bulbs (like onions, garlic, or even tulips), and should not be missing in your selection of hand tools.

9. Spade

You will use a garden spade for everything your hori hori knife is too small for. This tool is primarily used for digging, making it ideal for creating planting holes, transplanting small plants, and turning over soil. Its straight edge is also perfect for neatly edging garden beds or pathways, providing a clean and polished look to your outdoor space.

a spade against a wall on a wooden floor
A spade is very useful when digging new gardening beds

Furthermore, a garden spade can be employed for tasks like slicing through tough, compacted soil or removing sod when starting a new garden project. Its ability to cut through roots and densely packed earth makes it an indispensable tool for any gardener’s toolkit.

10. Measuring tape or ruler

A measuring tape or ruler is essential for spacing plants correctly and ensuring that your garden beds are designed to your desired dimensions.

11. Garden kneeler or knee pads

Working close to the ground can be hard on your knees and back. A garden kneeler or knee pad provides comfort and support, allowing you to tend to your plants without discomfort. I refused to use one the first year as a gardener but from the second year on I yielded and bought a garden kneeler. It is such a relief after an intensive weeding session to just be able to stand up without having to walk like an old lady the first couple of steps!

12. Pruning loppers

For cutting thicker branches and stems that are too large for hand pruners, but too small to use the pruning saw, garden pruning loppers come in handy. They allow you to maintain the shape and health of your shrubs and trees effectively. Because of its long handles, you can put a great deal of force behind pruning thick branches.

13. A good old simple bucket

A bucket can be used for a multitude of tasks, from carrying soil, mulch, or compost to collecting weeds, dead leaves, and garden debris. It’s a portable container for gathering fruits and vegetables during the harvest, and it serves as a makeshift watering can in a pinch.

a bucket, gardening gloves, hand rake and flowers in a nature environment
A bucket is super versatile, I use it as a container for weeds, harvest, gardening tools, or seedlings

Additionally, a bucket can be repurposed as a stool or a kneeler for more comfortable gardening, and it even comes in handy for transporting gardening tools around the garden. In essence, a simple bucket is a versatile and indispensable tool that every gardener can rely on for a wide range of tasks.

So, why are these 13 gardening tools essential for a beginner gardener?

Let’s see: In your kitchen garden, where you take pride in growing your own produce, you’ll find the 13 essential garden tools to be your trusted companions. Picture a day in your garden as you step into your lush and vibrant oasis.

The scenario

You start with your hand pruner to trim back the overgrown branches on your fruit trees. Your trusty gloves shield your hands as you work, protecting you from thorns and sharp objects. As you move to your vegetable garden, your rake comes into play, leveling the soil, removing debris, and creating an ideal surface for planting.

The garden hoe proves invaluable as you weed and cultivate the soil’s surface, ensuring your veggies have the perfect environment to thrive. Luckily you have your trusty old bucket at hand so you can collect all weeds before you throw them away in the composting bin. A transition to your flower beds sees your garden fork loosening compacted soil and enhancing root growth, thanks to its robust design.

With a watering can in hand, you provide your plants with the hydration they need, nurturing their growth. You notice some thicker branches on your ornamental trees. Your pruning saw helps you maintain the shape and health of your trees.

As you tend to your precious herbs, your hori hori knife becomes a trusty companion, precisely weeding and digging small holes for planting. The garden spade follows, taking care of more substantial digging tasks and ensuring neat garden bed edges.

measuring tape is your guide as you carefully space your garlic, maintaining a sense of order in your garden. You measure the correct planting distance and use your hori hori knife to make holes that are exactly deep enough. When working close to the ground, your garden kneeler provides the comfort and support you need. It is making kneeling and standing up after planting and weeding a breeze.

Finally, for those thicker branches that are too large for hand pruners but not quite the size of the pruning saw, your loppers step in. This tool allows you to maintain the shape and health of your shrubs and trees effectively. Giving you the final touch to a successful day in your flourishing garden.

Also, something to consider

As a beginner gardener, these essential gardening tools provide a solid foundation to embark on your gardening journey. The specific tools you need may vary depending on several factors. Such as the type and size of the garden and the plants you plan to grow.

However, by having these fundamental, yet basic gardening tools in your arsenal, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle a wide range of common gardening tasks. As your gardening expertise and garden expand, you can explore additional specialized tools to suit your unique needs. 

A bucket with some gardening tools and a few flowers

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