I’ve talked to an awful lot of people who wanted to start gardening, who didn’t know where to start and who didn’t know what to buy. I’ve already written a guide on how to start your own vegetable garden, so today I’m going to talk about what you actually need to start gardening and what’s optional.
A lot of people have the preconception that gardening has to be an expensive hobby and I want to get it on record that it doesn’t have to be expensive, it just can be. Like any other hobby the amount you can spend is limitless and the reason it can get so expensive is because people love gardening so much that they see nothing wrong with spending a huge proportion of their income on it.
This post is all about what tools you’re going to need to start gardening but is also going to include some extras which although aren’t necessary, they will make your life easier. Firstly, some tips on tools:
- Look for tools with strong, quality materials. This means disregarding the majority of cheap plastic tools, they are cheap but they’re also going to break in a few months. Sticking to traditional tools made of wood or metal is a good rule of thumb, but newer epoxys and fibreglass can sometimes offer great strength, with very little added weight.
- Invest in your tools. If you’re going to be gardening for more than just this week, then you’ll want to consider investing in your tools. The short term cost will be greater, but you’ll save yourself money in the long run because you won’t have to purchase new tools when the cheaper ones are breaking.
- Look after them. You wouldn’t leave you prize jewelry on the side of the sink, so don’t leave your tools out either. Anything that’s metal will rust if not looked after and wood can rot. I would suggest hanging tools from a peg or a nail, or storing smaller tools in a drawer. It doesn’t take much time but keeps everything organized and prevents you having to spend more money repurchasing tools.
- Check out different sizes. We are all different sizes and our proportions can differ hugely, so this really isn’t a case of ‘one size fits all’. Hence, you’ll find most quality brands offer tools in multiple different sizes and lengths. Using tools which don’t fit you can not only be uncomfortable, but also hazardous. The large majority of us buy stuff online, and this doesn’t mean you have to guess. Simply measure distances such as from the floor to your hand, which will allow you to figure out which shovel is best for you.
Fiskars are one of the premier names in gardening, they stand for superior quality. This spade is no different. With a solid steel shaft and blade, this is sure to last for many years to come, even with extensive use. We chose this as our top recommendation for a spade because of its narrow blade and the comfort it offers.
Whilst a thicker blade would allow for easier transportation and fast digging, as a beginner a smaller blade will offer much greater versatility and precision. You can much easily edge a clean border and cut sharper trenches, which would be more difficult with a large spade. As you go you can pick up more tools, but I believe that starting with a narrower shovel is the best option.
The shaft itself isn’t round like most, instead it fits more comfortably in your hand and doesn’t slip. The grip is great and having a larger than average D-handle makes sure that you’ll be able to hold it comfortably. It’s also worth noting that Fiskars offers a lifetime warranty on these spades. Find out more!
Our other recommendation is more of a budget spade at an introductory price. Whilst it doesn’t offer the same superior quality as Fiskars, it’s a perfectly good spade and one that’s more than good enough for any gardener.
It’s noticeably lighter than the Fiskars spade, mainly due to the fact that the shaft is made of wood instead of solid steel. This has advantages such as increased portability and usability by those of us who aren’t quite so strong.
The True American Spade is just that, truly American. With steel that is 100% produced in the USA, you can be assured of its quality. Averaging 4.5 stars out of 5 on Amazon, this is a great spade to start off with. Find out more!
This is going to be the only fork that I recommend, because it’s the only one that I’ve personally tried, is still for sale and would recommend to others. This Truper fork really is a trooper. I’ve been using it without issue for a good while now and time after time it’s been reliable.
Just like a spade, you can’t really ask for too many features and you wouldn’t really want them either. The key factors are quality and price. Truper is again a great brand which has never let me down. Their products are made to a good quality and they certainly get the job done.
With a 10 year guarantee there’s little reason not to trust the quality. The handle itself is made of plastic, but feels much sturdier than other plastic I’ve used, probably down to its thickness and the strength of the connection to the shaft. Find out more!
Having a rake is arguably optional, it really depends on where you live and what your garden is like. I know that once it turns October my garden will be covered in leaves, so having a rake is absolutely necessary.
I’ve trusted in my adjustable rake from Bond for a good 3-4 years now and it’s shown no signs of breaking. In the past I’ve had telescopic and adjusting rakes break on me within a few months of use, normally at the adjustable parts. However, this one has been superb and you can pull as hard as you’d like to without anything giving way. The adjustable span is a great feature, letting you change your rake depending on the day and the job. There’s no need to have a super fancy rake, this does the job and is quite reasonably priced too. Find out more!
‘Soft Touch’ Set
I was going to recommend that you purchase Fiskars trowel, something that I’ve suggested to other before, and has suited me well for years. But on looking online I’ve seen that they now offer a 3 piece set at a great price that includes a trowel, a transplaner and a cultivator. This is really all you’ll need for any small work.
All these pieces are manufactured by Fiskars, as I’ve said before that means quality. The handles themselves are a rubber grip which is the same as what I have on my trowel. I found that it meant I didn’t have to grasp so hard as with wooden or metal handles, something my hands thanks me for after a few hours of gardening. Find out more!
I’ve written a much longer guide on pruners here, so I’m going to keep this short. The Felco F-2 Classic Manual Hand Pruners are what I suggested before and they are still what I recommend now. The cutting motion is superior to anything I’ve ever experienced before and the quality of them is excellent. They are expensive for what they are, but with that price tag comes performance. If you’re looking for cheaper pruners then check out my article on hand pruners and look through the reviews on Amazon. Find out more!
If a gardener was a super hero then his/her moral enemy would definitely be weeds. They steal nutrients and water from your plants and flowers, and their roots can spread and damage your plants. Keeping weeds out of your garden is of the upmost importance.
Once again, we turn to trusty Fiskars to provide us with a product that is going to do the job right. I’ve only recently purchased this weeder, before this I would just do it with a hand trowel or if it was big I’d end up digging everything up. Having a weeder is an awful lot easier. The reason that I haven’t recommended a hand weeder is because I don’t think it’s completely necessary for a beginner gardener who just wants to get in the dirt and start working. If you have small weeds you can use a hand trowel or fork from the Fiskars soft touch set. Find out more!
Hopefully you have an outdoors tap which you can connect a hose to, if not then you can just get a watering can instead. This is a hose that I recommend with absolutely no reservations. After having dealt with standard hoses for many years, even with reels, an expandable hose really is easier. It shrinks up to an incredibly small size, meaning that you don’t have to bother folding it yourself and it can be much more easily hidden away. Find out more!
There you have it! Whilst this list is by no means exhaustive, it should include enough tools for any beginner to get working on their garden. For example; I haven’t talked about lawnmowers or wheel barrows. Firstly, I presume that almost everybody that has grass will have a lawnmower even if they know nothing about gardening. Secondly, a wheel barrow isn’t a precursor to starting gardening (technically none of this products are… but you get the point), as you can just put most of it straight into the bin. When I get time to update this article I’ll make sure to expand on other purchases to make in the future, or I’ll link to it from here.