Whether you’re getting started on your first garden bed or you’re completely overhauling your backyard to transform it into a rich tapestry of colour, you’ll need to equip yourself with some basic gardening tools. When I first started to garden, I thought one multi-purpose tool that promised to do it all — dig, weed, and prune — was genius (note to self: stop watching infomercials!). But I quickly learned that a one-size-fits-all quick fix was not the way to go. Different tools are suited to different needs.
To get a handle on the best tools to invest in, I reached out to Mark Cullen, Canada’s gardening expert, broadcaster, and columnist.
Here’s a list of gardening tools he recommends.
- Hand Pruners
Use hand pruners to deadhead spent flowers and cut back ‘leggy’ growth for optimum plant performance. And don’t forget to clean and sharpen them so they open smoothly and cut easily, unless of course you want your hands to get a workout!
- Soil Scoop
A soil scoop is an essential hand tool to help you plant, transplant, move small plants around, and move soil quickly and efficiently.
A sharp hoe is an ideal tool to help control young weeds before they become a more established problem. It’s a good idea to run a metal file over it before every use.
- Stainless Steel Spade
These garden shed staples serve many uses including planting, transplanting, edging, and more. Stainless steel sheds soil, wet or dry, better than other digging tools. Sharpen them with a file after each use to help maintain them.
I learned the hard way that gloves are essential for gardeners. I tried to prune a Barberry bush without them and ended up painstakingly plucking thorns from my hands. I’m now the proud owner of four pairs of gloves! Cullen is a fanatic about using them saying, “The damage that moist soil does to my hands is second only to the damage that the sun can do to unprotected skin. The perfect gardening gloves are flexible, washable, and repel moisture (look for neoprene reinforced finger tips).”
Modern trugs (shallow baskets with handles) are weather-proof, water tight, light, strong, and affordable. They’re flexible for easy lifting and they’re great for toting vegetables, flowers, soil, tools and raw material for compost.
- Pocket Knife
A pocket knife is useful for dividing perennials, opening soil and mulch bags, cutting twine, and much more.
- Soaker Hose
Soaker hoses are a priority tool for low maintenance gardeners because they deliver water at the soil level, reducing moisture loss through evaporation. Plus, they help with water conservation.
- Rain Barrels
Cullen has four rain barrels around his house and he explains why: “Rain water is soft and always warm (during the gardening season) which plants love versus the hard cold stuff that comes from the faucet.” Plus, it’s an environmentally-friendly option! Opt for a closed barrel to keep debris and insects out.
- Lawn and Leaf Rake
The world’s best rake is flexible, lightweight and indestructible. Use it for throwing leaves and grass clippings across the lawn rather than pushing them.
It’s not about spending a fortune on gardening tools, it’s about getting the right ones — the basics that will get you started, get you growing and keep your beautiful garden well maintained.
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What’s on your list of must-have gardening tools? Let us know in the comments box below.