Essential Tools Every DIY Gardener Should Have
Gardening can be therapeutic for many and this is perhaps why more and more people are creating their own backyard gardens. If you’ve never done any gardening before, you’ll quickly realize all the hard work that must go into maintaining the local botanic gardens in your area.
If you plan on starting your own garden at home, there are several must-have tools that you’ll need in order to make your job easier and more enjoyable. Don’t feel that just because you lack a green thumb that you can’t create a successful garden yourself. Let our list of essential garden tools get you on the right path to creating your ultimate dream garden.
Anyone with deciduous trees in their yard will know how important it is to have a leaf rake on hand. While deciduous trees such as maples and aspens may be pretty to look at during autumn, all those leaves will eventually end up on your lawn and garden beds which will then need to be cleared. A quality leaf rake with at least a 24-inch head will get the job done quickly, just make sure to look for one that is clog-free and won’t annoyingly spear leaves along the way.
You then have garden rakes which serve another purpose. Use a garden rake during the spring to prep the soil in vegetable or flower gardens. Garden rakes are also ideal for leveling mulch, removing moss, and loosing soil.
Shovels and Spades
Gardeners cannot do without shovels and spades. There are numerous types of both that suit different purposes including edge shovels, digging shovels, and scoop shovels.
If you’re planning on planting larger shrubs or trees, you’ll need a good digging shovel. Your digging shovel should have a nice sharp cutting edge that can pierce the ground easily for planting. Digging shovels with longer handles will offer more leverage but are often more expensive and not great if you’re limited on space around your garden. Handles can be made of cheaper wood or more durable fiberglass or welded steel, and grips can be of the D or T variety. Check out your local hardware store to see which variety feels the most comfortable to you.
Square shovels are used to scoop out and remove soil, mulch, and rock. Trench shovels on the other hand will come in handy when it comes to removing deep-rooted plants and laying irrigation pipes. A flat-blade edging spade cuts turf precisely and can be used to cut roots and remove debris from sidewalks. Use a flat blade spade to give your garden edges that professional look.
Lastly is a post-hole digger which is basically two shovels that work together to break through, loosen, and remove a cylinder-shaped section of soil which will then provide a nice and neat hole to place a fence post in. It is also ideal for digging holes for bulb planting.
You may have thought that machetes were only used in the Amazon to cut through dense rainforests or hack down sugar cane. However, machetes are often a vital piece of equipment for clearing the overgrown areas of your property and getting them ready for a garden.
Garden machetes come in many styles, some with shorter blades and others that are quite intimidating. One of the best multi-purpose machetes available is the kukri machete which originated out of India. They sport a recurved blade with a wide midsection perfect for chopping and are also perfect for clearing thick brush, tall grasses, and thick spiky weeds. Use them to cut back trees and shrubs to stimulate new growth and to easily strip bark from trees and chop up compost.
kukri machete: photo courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art / CC0 wikimedia commons.
Every gardener will also need some pruning tools. There are handheld pruners that are efficient in making half-inch diameter cuts. If you need to make larger cuts, then you need to invest in a pruning saw. This is because your handheld pruning tool won’t be effective in making the larger cuts that you need and you may just end up damaging your tool.
Handheld pruners can be used to remove dead flower heads or cutting small unwanted messy stems from trees. They are great for topiary or the art of shaping your shrubs into the designs you want. Bypass pruners can generally trim stems up to about a half-inch while ratchet pruners may allow you to cut through stems up to 3/4 of an inch in diameter. You can also use handheld pruners to cut fresh flowers from your garden for inside your home.
Pruning saws are great for cutting through thicker branches and easier to use than bow saws. They often fold up which makes for safe transport and storage.
Another useful tool for both budding gardeners and seasoned experts is a garden fork. This tool is very effective in loosening up the soil in your garden. It is also more advisable to use a garden fork, rather than a shovel, to tend to more sensitive plants.
Use a garden fork to aerate smaller garden areas and to add compost into your garden beds. They can further be used to lift and divide perennials. Look for a fork with a forged or cast stainless steel head and four solid square tines.
If you plan on moving a lot of soil, turf, and plants, do yourself a favor and pick up a solid wheelbarrow which will help save your back. Transport rock, compost, and just about anything else around your garden. While a poly tray will often be acceptable for most jobs, a steel tray is more ideal if you often have heavier loads since this style of tray is more durable over time.
You want your wheelbarrow to be strong and durable yet at the same time light enough so you can still transport it around the yard easily. If you find yourself getting flat tires frequently because of blackberry vine thorns or other debris, think about investing in a flat-free tire for your wheelbarrow.
Finally, make sure you are equipped with a hand trowel to plant smaller plants which often come in 6-inch diameter pots or smaller. Plants which come in these size pots need only shallow holes for planting, which is best achieved with the use of a hand trowel. It is a tool that even the most basic gardener that just wants to plant a few flowers around the house should have. They are also great for planting herbs and vegetables.
While there are plenty of very cheap hand trowels out there, these often don’t last very long, especially when used to dig up weeds often. Investing in a more expensive trowel crafted from one piece of forged stainless steel will prove more economical in the long run. Just remember to always clean and dry your trowel after each use to prevent rust.
- For the latest in gardening, subscribe to the monthly ABC Gardening Australia, born from the TV show.
- When you’re ready to decorate your outdoor areas, consider large planter pots in addition to gardening in the ground.
- To check which plants are native to your region, you can use the ABC Plant Finder.