In the world of gardening there are as many types of tools as there are gardening tasks. For weeding alone, there are tools to dig, burn, kill, scrape, hoe and even store weeds! I admit that, being male, I’m preconditioned to love tools—they help ease the pain of gardening—but how many do we really need? And who has the space to store them all? On my list of essential gardening tools, there are only eight items—they’re all I really need to get by in the garden.
1. A spade for digging, dividing, lifting and edging. Without a spade, my garden wouldn’t be made! A short-handled version is my most used tool. Invest in high-quality spades made of durable, lightweight materials like forged carbon steel. Test out different brands and styles to ensure the size, feel and weight of the spade suits you.
Image courtesy of Shannon Ross
2. A trowel for transplanting, cultivating and measuring. Best described as a hand-sized shovel, my trusty trowel is a permanent fixture throughout the gardening season. I use it for planting anything from tomatoes and geraniums in the spring to tulip and daffodil bulbs in the fall, and in between I use it for removing deep-rooted weeds like dandelions from the lawn and garden. Those with back or mobility issues should look for trowels with telescopic handles and ergonomic designs.
Softouch® Aluminium Trowel image courtesy of Fiskars
3. A bucket for storing, harvesting, moving (and more!) is a must. When weeding, a bucket ensures seeds are kept contained after the parent weed has been removed. When transplanting, a bucket helps move fertilizer or scoop soil. Best of all, a bucket flipped upside down is the perfect perch to sit on when weeding and eases the wear and tear on your knees. Any old bucket will do.
Tubtrugs® image courtesy of Amyot & Co.
4. A garden fork for cultivating, composting, aerating and transplanting. The garden fork—a.k.a. cultivating fork—is my tried-and-true tool for mixing manure into the vegetable garden, dividing large perennials and harvesting my prized potatoes. They’re available in many shapes and sizes, but my preference is the short D-handled digging fork.