Essential Tools for the Beginner Gardener

Article written by Troy-Bilt® brand ambassador Dave Townsend of Growing the Home Garden
 
When people start down the road to becoming gardeners, they have many questions. What plants do I want to grow? Where should I place the plants? How do you grow a certain plant? What vegetables grow well together? I could make a list of a thousand questions and still not come up with all of them! If we start at the very beginning of the process and think of one very important question that people ask, it would be 'What tools should I get?'
 
The right tool for the right job makes work go so much easier! As far as tools go, there are hundreds of different kinds of non-powered tools out there to choose from. If you take the list down to the basic essentials of what I would recommend, there are five garden tools that I would start with. I'm certainly not saying that I would only get five tools, but these five I find essential in my garden and use them more often than anything else.

 

Recommended Tools

Garden Gloves
I consider a good pair garden gloves to be a tool and I go through new garden gloves yearly. I use them so much that I have worn holes in the fingertips of every pair of gloves I have ever had. I use gloves when planting, when working with stone or landscaping pavers, and especially when weeding. Always use a pair gloves when weeding - ALWAYS. Here in Tennessee we have an assortment of lawn and garden weeds, as well as insects. Poison Ivy can creep into garden beds very easily and who knows what type of spider or insect might be lurking under the weeds? By wearing gloves, you prevent or reduce your risk of encountering an uncomfortable situation!
 
Pruners
There are quite a few different types of pruners, but a simple pair of bypass pruners is extremely useful in the garden. Whether you are gardening with roses or tomatoes, they can be used to prune the plants to the proper shape and encourage the growth where you want it to grow. I've used my pruners to cut open bags, trim twine, clip weedy trees at the root (when I can't remove them easily), and with all sorts of other garden tasks. Pruners are essential!
 
A Good Shovel
A shovel would certainly be THE first thing I would purchase (but I would buy the gloves at the same time). With a good spade you can plant trees, shrubs or perennials; start gardens; cut through roots; scrape grass from beds; remove weeds; turn compost and so much more! Some shovels have additional features like sawtooth edges to help with cutting roots. Before I had a tiller, I used my shovel to double-dig garden beds. The shovel is one of the most versatile tools you can find and should be the first one every gardener gets!
 
The Garden Hoe
The garden hoe is a close second to the shovel in my book. There are several types of hoes but the basic garden hoe is where I would start. If you want a weed-free garden (good luck!), the hoe can cut through those weeds and give you a great workout at the same time. My hoe is a weeding tool first but is also a planting tool. I use it frequently to create a trench for planting seeds or bulbs. 
 
The Garden Rake
Some people may disagree with me on the garden rake, but I have found it to be extremely valuable in my garden. I can smooth the soil, pull vining weeds, level mulch and rake through pretty much everything. It isn't as great as a leaf rake because it likes to dig into the ground but if your goal is to remove thatch before sowing grass seed, the garden rake is a good tool to use. Scratching the surface of the vegetable garden with the tooth side of the rake is a good way to achieve a minimal tilling on the surface of the soil. 
 
If you are just starting your garden these five non-powered tools are the ones to get you going - and growing! 
 
Other notable tools: Trowel, hand cultivator, scuffle hoe (stirrup hoe), leaf rake, hand saw, and pickaxe.