How to Choose the Right Garden Tools the First Time

by on December 4th, 2010
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If you are doing any kind of gardening projects, there are some tools that every gardener should have. When it comes to gardening, having the right tools can make the difference between a difficult job and a successful one. With so many different tools on the market, which are the best? This article will help you to make a wise choice the first time.

Cheaper is Not Always Better

Do not buy the cheapest ones you find on the market. I, like anyone else, love to save money. In the past, I have bought the cheaper made gardening tools only to regret my decision a short time later. Tools should last a lifetime with proper care, but they will cost more at the check-out counter. But think of it this way; compare the cost of a better-made high priced tool with an inexpensive one. Then multiply the cost of the cheaper one times two, or three, to replace them when they break. Add in the cost of inflation. Most often, the higher priced ones will save you money in the long run. Your tools can be used for generations. We have tools that my grandfather used, and I hate to admit it, but they weren’t always well cared for. We may have had to replace the handle, but they are still used in our garden today.

Garden Fork

A garden fork has four tines at the end of a short handle. The handle is usually waist high in length. This is the tool I use the most when I garden. It is a handy tool for digging in the garden and turning the soil. Whack dirt clods with the tines to break the hard clumps of dirt. You can also buy a smaller version of the garden fork for your garden. This one is used for hand weeding. It loosens the soil around the weeds, making it easier to remove the entire root section.


A shovel is a handy tool for digging big holes. If you are planting flowers with a large root system, a group of flowers, peonies, shrubs or even a small tree, a shovel removes a lot of soil in each scoop. If you have many bulbs to plant, and you do not want to dig each hole individually, then remove enough soil to form a hole big enough to plant them all at once. Lay the bulbs over the soil, and then cover them.

Weeder or Hoe

No one likes to weed, but weeds are a part of every garden. Why not make the job easier by buying a weeder or hoe. The weeder is a tool shaped like a knife. This tool loosens the soil, allowing you to pull the weeds. If your garden has plants growing close together, this will reach into those tight places without harming your plants. For vegetable gardens where the plants are growing in rows, the hoe is the right tool. Grasp the handle using both your hands, and then hit the ground with the pointed end. A hoe can either chop the weeds down, or dislodge them from the ground. You do need to be careful with the weeder or hoe so you do not damage the roots of your other plants.

Cultivator or Mini Rake

A cultivator or mini rake is small enough for little gardens, narrow beds, pots or window boxes. It usually has three bent prongs that when used to dig across the soil, it will loosen the topsoil. This tool not only helps with weeding, but gardeners use it to work fertilizer granules into the soil.


If you want to plant a bulb garden, then a dibble is a handy tool. The dibbler is perfect for planting small bulbs. Instead of digging a hole with a trowel, or spade, you insert one end of the dibbler into the soil. The dibbler goes into the ground by working it in the ground from side to side. This action creates a hole. Drop the bulb into the hole. Remove the dibbler, and then fill in the hole with soil.

Short- or Long-Handled Bulb Planter

The short- or long-handled bulb planter is a handy tool for planting the bigger type bulbs. This tool is just as easy to use as the dibbler, but eliminates most of having to benddown. You push the digging end into the soil with your foot to the correct depth of your bulb. You need to plant your bulb. When you pull it out of the soil, it will remove a plug of soil. Place the bulb into the hole, covering the bulb with the plug of soil that the tool removed. This makes planting bulbs easier.

Watering Wand

A watering wand makes easy work of providing water to your plants. It has a long handle enabling you to have better control of which plants get watered. Watering wands are wonderful to water hanging baskets. We have all watered hanging plants with a water hose and had water run down the hose, onto your arm and under your sleeve. If you have new plants or seedlings, a watering wand allows the water to spray out gently. When choosing a watering wand that lasts for years, buy one that has a brass shut-off valve. This may cost you more, but it is worth the money.

Water Hose

Instead of carrying water to your plants, use a water hose. The water hose you choose should have the brass fittings and be four to six ply in thickness. Water hoses come in a variety of lengths, so choose the one that works best for you. If you need a longer hose than the store sells, you can connect two hoses together. A thin hose delivers less water than a wide water hose.


Martha Stewart: Bulb-Planting Tools

Flower Gardening Made Easy: Quality Garden Tools Make the Job Easier

Down Garden Services: Garden Tools

The Free Library: Tools Needed in Every Garden

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