21 Essential Garden Tools For Gardening

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Every gardener has essential garden tools needed for gardening.  It doesn’t matter if you are growing flowers or growing your own food.  Garden tools are essential for every gardeners needs.  

We’ll discuss the different types of garden tools and how they work.  You will also have a list of garden tools with pictures so you can understand how to use them.   So what are the basic tools for gardening?  Let’s find out…

Essential Gardening Tools For Gardening

Gardening tools fall into different categories. Some are for digging, while others a weeding or watering so I’ve put them into their perspective categories for you as well.  

Garden tools leaned up on wooden fence. 21 Essential Garden Tools Needed for Gardening. Hidden Springs Homestead

What are the Basic Garden Tools For Digging?

Round-Headed Shovel

Shovels are a must if you are going to be doing any digging at all.  There are many types on the market but my favorite is a round-headed one with a long handle.  I also prefer wood handles WITH cushion grips – they are a must!  Not sure why exactly for the wooden handle, I just like the feel and the look of a wooden handle when using them.  If you prefer to have a fiber glass handle, then by all means, this is a great one too

Pick Mattock

If you are going to be setting out shrubs, trees or bushes, a pick mattock is a must.  When choosing one, make sure to notice how the mattock head is attached. 

I’ve found that wooden handles in a pick mattock are not all that great.  For this tool, I do prefer the fiberglass handle.  When building my raised beds, I used a pick mattock to dig down to make the bed set level. 

Previously having a wood handled one, I found that the wood would “shrink” and I had a hard time keeping the head on.  I bought a new one this last year.


Unfortunately at this time, I don’t own a rototiller.  I have had to borrow one from my awesome sister.  It’s great to have friends or family that can lend you garden tools to use on the homestead until you are able to purchase your own. 

A rototiller is great for tilling up your soil in preparation for planting.  

rotor tiller digging in ground. Essential Garden Tools All Gardeners Need. Hidden Springs Homestead

Digging Fork

A digging fork is excellent garden tool for digging in small spaces.  Since I have is raised beds, mine works really well for digging.  Again, I go back to preferring the wooden handle on my digging fork. 

It’s handle is just long enough to comfortably stand beside the raised bed and dig in the soil as needed.  I actually used this last year for removing the large okra roots from the beds.  If your prefer the fiberglass handle, Fiskars has this great one.

Hand Cultivator

This is my “go to” digging tool!  I use it more than any other garden tool I have.   It’s a very simple tool but great for breaking crusty soil close to your plants. 

I use this one all the time and would say it would have to be my favorite.  Again, since I have raised beds, this tool is ideal for scraping the soil around the plants.  They also come with even shorter handles for working in the flower beds.

 A funny story, thought it had lost it back in November.  I had taken it to a class for a demonstration to a young group of students and didn’t put it back where it belonged when I got home.  I panicked when I went to get it and it wasn’t where it should be.    TIP:   Always put keep your garden tools where they belong so they are easily accessible when needed.  

Pitch Fork

Also a must tool.  A pitch fork is excellent for various chores on the homestead.  They can be used for turning the compost pile or shoveling wood chips.  I do use this one with a fiberglass handle.  It was just more comfortable to use rather than a straight wooden handle one.

Soil Knife

If you are needing to separate plants or just dig a hole to set a tomato plant into, a soil knife is a great tool.  I like this one because it is multi-use and has that great wooden handle.

What Are Some Other Basic Pruning Tools? 

Hand Loppers

These are essential in your pruning arsenal.  They allow you to reach higher level and allow you to prune with not much effort.  If the limb or whatever you are trimming, will fit it the blades, it can be trimmed with loppers. 

I use these for pruning trees around the homestead when a limb is hanging too low or in my way.  There are also great for pruning back wild black-berry briers that grow, from the edge, out into the field and are in the way of mowing. These are great for helping to keep control of bushes on the property edge.


Hand Pruners

Small hand pruners come in handy when you need to trim small limbs and such on Woody Ornamentals or perennials.  When it comes time to prune the blueberry bushes, hand pruners a great tool to use.  They are small, fit right into your hand and make nice straight cuts when trimming or pruning bushes.  I use these when cutting gourds from the vine.

Pruning Saw

This is a must if you will be cutting any good sized branches off.  You can use this to cut low hanging branches from trees or to even cut down smaller trees.  It works on the “forward” push and then pull straight back.  

What Are Some Garden Tools For Weeding?  

Stirrup Hoe

This hoe is excellent for weeding.  Instead of having to “lift”  the hoe in an up and down motion to removed weeds, the stirrup hoe allows you to move in a back and forth motion not forcing you to lift. It uses less exertion when weeding the garden.


Dandelion Weeder

The upside down V shape helps to remove stubborn roots from the soil.  It has a long shaft that helps to reach into those tight places.


Hand Cultivator

The 3 prongs make it very easy to loosen the soil and remove weeds by their roots.  These are great for weeding in small beds.  

A Must Have Garden Tool for Trimming Herbs

Garden Scissors

Garden Scissors are excellent for trimming herbs in the kitchen garden.  When you need a just a tiny “snip” of fresh basil for a dish or small piece of mint to put into a mint tea, garden scissors work really well for this.


Garden Necessities 

Garden Journal

A journal will help you to keep accurate records of your crops.  Don’t leave a successful garden to memory. 

Keep good notes of vegetables you planted and how well they did.  What went wrong? Keep it in the journal. 

Weather conditions, garden map, and plan for the year.  In this article 5 Seed Ordering Tips to Save Money and Time you’ll find in detail items to put into your journal.

Garden Hose

The garden will need watered throughout the summer.   I would recommend a 3/4″ hose.  Make sure it is a premium duty “kink-free” version with brass fittings.   A good quality hose will cost around $45-$60.

Water Wand

This garden tool is necessary for watering your plants when you don’t want to put water all over the leaves. Some plants  will develop disease if they leaves get too wet.  Using a water wand to put the water down low near the soil and directly onto the roots where it is needed.  Make sure that whatever you use has multiple spray patterns for watering choices.

Wheelbarrow / Yard Cart

A wheelbarrow is hard to do without.  It makes moving soil or compost, cleaning out the garden in the fall, working in the greenhouse so much easier.  We don’t own a tractor or anything to move things around on our 1.5 acre homestead, so the wheelbarrow is used a lot.  

Some people may prefer a yard cart instead of wheelbarrow.  I’ve personally have never owned a yard cart, but I have started a Mason jar to own this one. The difference in the two are:  a wheelbarrow has only 1 large wheel in the front and you balance your load with your arms.  A yard cart has 2 wheels and it does not have to be balanced.

Gardening is a pleasurable thing to do for those who enjoy it.  Using garden tools can make the work so much easier.  For me, I keep what I feel are the basic garden tools needed.

Realizing there are all kinds of tools that can be purchased.  Be mindful of how much a tool will be used and how necessary is it.  Homesteading is choosing to live a frugal life, but some garden tools are necessary.

Other things I didn’t go into detail in this article are garden gloves, hats and kneeling pads.  These garden tools will protect you personally when out in the wonderful sun gardening.


Hope this has helped to shed some light on some garden tools you may need for your homestead garden adventures.

Now that you have an idea of what garden tools you need for gardening.  You can learn how to keep them clean and ready for gardening in this Spring Garden Checklist post.

What’s your favorite garden tool that you use?   Or even better, what garden tool do you dream of owning?


wheelbarrow, pitchfork, and other garden tools leaned up on a fence. Garden Tools You Need for Gardening. Hidden Springs Homestead


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4 thoughts on “21 Essential Garden Tools For Gardening

  • May 13, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    I enjoyed your list!

    My essentials list is very similar to yours… just a few small differences.

    I don’t use a rototiller anymore because i use no-till methods and layer (lasagna garden) to begin now. I use a shovel instead of a pick mattock for setting out bushes a trees, but that’s just a personal thing (or maybe my type of soil?).

    Like you, I find a digging fork and a stirrup hoe indispensable, i just call them by different names (a garden fork and a scuffle hoe). I use a garden rake instead of your hand cultivator, but they do similar things… I have used a few kinds of cultivators before, i just don’t use them much now….you probably like that the cultivator breaks up clumps, a strong rake can too if needed by chopping, but i keep the organic matter high so the width of a rake is sweet and quick and i don’t need more. A pitchfork for compost, loppers and pruners, hose and wand (or adjustable sprayer), journal, all like you. Instead of a “soil knife” i use either a hand trowel or I’ve grown fond of a bulb planter for transplanting, and usually put a cup of water in the hole before putting in a plant and again, it goes more quickly. So all and all, my list is very similar to yours.

    I use a couple of tools that you don’t mention though: a broad fork… basically it does the same job of a garden fork only it goes deeper and is wider. This is great for when you have a larger garden and are gardening round the year, and as i mentioned, i don’t use a tiller. A lucky thing about a broad fork is you can use it inside of raised beds without tearing up the sides. And a broad fork loosens up the soil without turning it over, so you don’t get as many weeds in your bed by pulling them up from underneath.

    Both a hand wire weeder and a long handled wire weeder. This won’t work for folk who still need to work on their soil tilth, and isn’t needed for row gardening. But when you are doing raised beds and have your plants packed closely, wire weeders let you get small weeds very quickly when you don’t have much room, without damaging your crops. The movement you use is similar to a scuffle hoe, or like vacuuming. It is not really intended for big weeds, but rather lets you disturb small weeds very quickly, and are great for touching your beds once a week to keep them free of weeds so that you don’t have to do hours of hand weeding. They are sometimes expensive to buy, but so easy to make for pennies! It’s worth it to have them, for the time it saves from weeding.

    I was so reassuring to me to read about your favorite tools, and comforting to know that though there are many ways to garden, that there is someone out there that goes to the same tools, again and again!

    • May 13, 2018 at 6:07 pm

      Hi Holly,

      Thank you for commenting. It’s amazing to me all the tools that are available for gardening. I have raised beds myself and of course cannot use a tiller in them. I was told about the broad fork and helpful it could be in the raised beds. I’m curious if you have to walk inside your raised bed in order to use the fork? That may be something that I need to add to my wish list.

      I do use a tiller though when working on a new garden area. I am actually working very slowly on removing the majority of our grass and replacing it with edible landscape as well as native plant islands for the pollinators. Once the bed is established though, no more tilling, I’m with you on that for sure!

      I must say though, I have never heard of a wire weeder. That is a new one for me. I will have to do some research on that one. I’d be curious how to make one for pennies.

      Thanks again and if I can help with anything, please feel free to ask. It was so nice hearing from you.

      Happy Gardening,

  • February 28, 2018 at 9:35 pm

    You can totally rule the world with a pitchfork and a wheelbarrow!


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