In the main, you only need a handful of inexpensive tools to keep everything rosy and ship-shape in the garden, along with some decent weed killer! But with so many to choose from, which do you really need? Garden Benches shows which tools we need.
Do you really need a spade? What about a trowel? And what even are secateurs?! Whether you are new to gardening or an experienced one with green fingers, understanding which tools are useful can be difficult, especially with so much choice.
Of course, what is an essential tool for one gardener might not be to another. For example, a gardener with a thriving vegetable allotment will need a good quality, sharp space whilst someone who gardens in pots on a balcony will have no need of it.
Take a look at this list – which of these do you need?
Good, sharp pruners or secateurs
You could say these are thick-set gardening scissors that cut through anything up to the thickness of a shrub branch. You need to keep them sharp because the cleaner the cut, the easier they are to handle.
Hand-held ones are great for small plants and shrubs but for heavier duty pruning, such as larger shrubs and small trees, long-handled versions would be a good investment.
Great for most gardeners. A decent pair will cost £15 upwards.
A spade is used to dig holes for planting larger shrubs and trees. It should be ‘sharp’ (but not like a knife!) so that it cuts through the soil. For heavier soils, such as clay, a really decent quality one is essential to make lighter work of digging and planting.
As well as considering the working end of the tool, you also need to consider the shaft and the handle;
- The shaft – as well as wooden or metal shafts, you can know buy a space made with a heavy-duty plastic. If you store your tools outside, plastic won’t rot or warp but check how the shaft connects to the spade.
- The handle – the top end needs to fit smoothly and comfortably in your hand. Like most gardening tools, handling them before you buy is a good move.
A good space will normally have a bit of weight to it because this again can help when it comes to digging over the ground.
Great for allotment and polytunnel gardeners, as well as those who dig over borders. A balcony or small garden gardener may have no need of one. Expect to pay £10 upwards for a good quality, no fuss spade.
A good quality gardening trowel is probably essential for most gardeners. It is an over-sized spoon but a miniature version of the garden space we talked about earlier.
You can complete a myriad of gardening tasks with a gardening trowel, from digging small holes for plants to shovelling compost from bags to pots and so on.
Because it is so essential, spend on one so that it lasts for years. it should fit into your hand comfortably and some people prefer a gardening trowel that has a slight lip and concave shape to it.
Essential for most gardeners. Choose one with some weight in it as, like a spade, this helps to cut through soil. For balcony or pot gardeners, an old spoon can work just as well.
Quality gardening trowels with a good handle can retail from £10 upwards.
Quick tool list
Other essential gardening tools could include;
- Watering can – a plastic water can is great for watering small patches of the garden. Choose from a range of colours and opt for plastic for longevity over metal ones that can rust. If you use a chemical weed killer, the norm is to use a separate, red coloured can. There are friendlier weed killing alternatives, however.
- Water butt – starting at £35 for a mid-size one, a water butt to collect rainwater from the gutters is essential for sustainable modern gardening.
- Hand-held gardening fork – a smaller fork can be useful for scraping the top layer of soil to digging smaller patches. Again, test it that it sits comfortably in your hand and expect to pay from £10 upwards. A balcony gardener can use an old serving fork for the same purpose.
- Bulb trowel – similar to the gardening trowel, this is a slenderer version perfect for creating deep, slender holes for dropping bulb fibre in, followed by a bulb. Can be anything from £5 upwards. An old broom handle does the same thing if you have one to hand.
Gardening is about how much you can spend on it, but how well you work with what you’ve got. What gardening tool could you not do without?