Basic Tools for Beginning Gardeners

Here is my list of basic tools for beginning gardeners. Give it the once-over and email me if you think I’ve left something out.


Round point shovel – I like a long handle more than a short handle. It gives me more leverage when I’m turning over a new bed in heavy clay soil. Some folks, on the other hand, find a short-handled model easier to use.

Heavy duty trowel – Forget the light ones, get one that can take all of the abuse you give it. If it can hammer nails (yes, you might want to do that someday)it will dig without complaint.


Good quality hand pruner – I personally prefer a Felco #2 pruner because I can easily sharpen and replace the blade. There are other brands that work well too. Get one with a bypass blade (like scissors) not an anvil blade.

Long-handled lopper – steel or thick wooden handles insure that you can apply all your strength to the job. Again, I much prefer bypass blades rather than the less-expensive anvil blades.


Water hose – Most 5/8 inch hoses carry water fine. The key is to buy one with heavy duty brass ends. If you are clumsy and step on the end, you’ll appreciate one that doesn’t deform under your weight.

Water wand – second in importance only to a water hose. The wand transforms a damaging blast of water into a gentle cascade.

Watering can – look for a filler hole on the upper side rather than directly under the handle

Soaker hose – I must have a half-mile of soaker hose snaked among my beds and shrubbery. It minimizes evaporation loss, puts water just where you want and allows for surreptitious irrigation if you forget to water on your assigned day.

Water timer – how are you gonna know how much water you apply without using one of these? The easy-to-use, dial-adjusted fifteen dollar model lets you set it and forget it.


Leather gloves – indispensable when pruning roses or using a post hole digger

Kneeling pad – my AARP-eligible knees aren’t padded like they once were; a thick pad keeps pebbles from embedding themselves in my kneecap.


2 pesticide sprayers – one for herbicides, one for applying everything else

– I grew up using a standard, single-wheel barrow but some find them unwieldy. Another option is a ten-dollar plastic tarp. You can pile dirt or debris on it and drag your load to its destination.

Jute twine & heavy scissors
– I’m constantly tying back recalcitrant rose canes and limber shrub branches that impede my garden progress. Jute twine is easy to tie, inconspicuous, and it decomposes after a single season.

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