Essential Gardening Tools and Equipment-The Basics

Whether you are starting your own garden from scratch or you are the owner of a newly designed garden,  there will certainly be some jobs to be done and some essential gardening tools to be bought.  In the same way as making an omelette with a teaspoon would be tricky ….you can’t really prune shrubs with a pair of scissors!  The following (bookmark if you like) is an evolving list of essential gardening tools and equipment I have used and which enhance my enjoyment of being in the garden.

Something for general cutting.

The must have starting point for any gardening experience has to be a good set of secateurs and a holster (to protect your pockets).  The numerous tasks these will assist you with cannot be underestimated.   You will have them for years so it’s worth investing correctly.  My ‘go-to’ brand is Felco, the red handles are easy to spot when placed down, replacement parts are available and you can even send them away to be serviced if you don’t want to do it yourself.  I use Felco No. 8   as this is suitable for a right handed person with a larger hand (Felco No. 9 is the Left Hand version). 

If you have a smaller hand, the Felco No. 6 Right Hand or Felco No.16 Left Hand would be easier to hold and use.  A small bottle of 3in1 oil is useful for cleaning and maintaining the secateurs after use.  I have a cotton cloth I keep covered in oil for this and other tools such as axes and saws.  

For the secateur connoisseur you could opt for something Japanese like the Niwaki Pro Secateurs (Right Handed – Left Handed) and Holster.  These are wonderful tools but are likely to require extra care and attention to keep them in best condition.  Both Felco and Niwaki secateurs will benefit from regular sharpening with either a stone or diamond sharpener.  I like to use the sharpening stone from Okatsune as it is easy to handle and gives a great finish.

A small folding pocket knife can be useful for certain jobs, but I find the open blade of a sharp pair of secateurs works well for many less specialist tasks.


Something for weeding.

Mother nature is going to want to retake the ground!  Depending upon your aesthetic this might be keenly or softly managed.  Either way you’re going to need tools for keeping control.

Since weeding is best done little and often, the first essential for this is a mug for tea (any mug will do, but it’s normally the gifted joke one!)  Going out daily with a mug of tea for 10 minutes is a great way to keep on top of it.   Little and often helps to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the task.  It also creates a feeling of satisfaction and ongoing engagement with the garden.

I use a large plastic trug and gloves (Mens or Womens) for most weeding jobs.  Since I mulch my borders in the spring with composted bark fines I don’t want to disturb the soil underneath too much by hoeing.  Working this way is simple, clean and quick, perfect for your 10 minute blast.

If I have tough weeds to remove a good trowel is very useful as it is for planting (see digging tools).   I very rarely use a hand fork although I know some people who do.  It’s not one of my essentials.   If the sun is shining and you’re weeding veg beds or larger areas and  then a swoe  is a great tool.  They are lightweight and versatile.  It is an excellent tool for getting in close to the base of new planting clumps and along rows of veg.