The best gardening tools for preparation, planting and beyond

A generous garden does not grow on its own. The health of your vegetables and flowers is a direct reflection of the work you do to weed, prepare, prune and plant. That’s why it’s important to stock the best gardening tools and supplies to make the job not only easier, but more enjoyable.

Many of these tools – shovels, trowels, shovels – are the ones you could get yourself. But there are many less expected gardening tools that will go a long way in improving your gardening success. For example, using an organic-based mulch will help retain moisture and prevent weeds, says Barbara Damrosch, author of the first gardenr and co-owner of Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine. And keeping an eye on your soil temperature is critical to the success of many crops, so investing in a good soil thermometer is important.

We asked Damrosch, along with Seattle-based gardening expert Ciscoe Morris and Reba Dodge, owner of Maui-based Harvest Dream Girl flower farm, to share the best gardening tools for prep, planting. and beyond. Here are their must-haves.


Soil thermometer

Smart Choice Stainless Steel Floor Thermometer

The time of planting is when soil temperatures are most critical. The air temperature may be like spring, but below the ground, the ground can still feel the cold of winter. A simple, inexpensive thermometer, like the Smart Choice Stainless Steel Soil Thermometer, has the answer to exactly what you need to plant when (you can also use the free seed start date calculator at Johnny’s Selected Seeds). Different plants germinate at different soil temperatures, so check the back of the seed packets for optimal growing conditions, as although some heat is good for seed germination, summer temperatures can hamper further plant growth.


Essentials for seed starting

GrowEase Seed Starter Kit

You can also skip guessing when to plant your seeds and use the flawless automatic watering feature of the GrowEase Seed Starter Kit, which ensures successful germination. A transparent germination blanket maintains proper humidity during seed germination. Made from recycled plastic, it can be thrown in the dishwasher for easy cleaning between uses.


Collinear hoe

Narrow Collinear Hoe – 3 3/4 ” Fixed Blade

Narrow collinear hoe – Fixed blade 3 3/4 “


A good collinear hoe will keep all those little annual weeds from starting in the first place. Like a hoe, it is intended for use while standing. The sharp blade slides flat with the soil surface, so it cuts weeds without throwing soil on nearby seedlings. And it’s particularly effective for hoeing under salads and leafy vegetables.


Bow rake

True Temper 14 Tooth Bow Rake

Spring garden tasks such as spreading mulch, breaking up clods, compressing the soil, and removing roots and rocks from cultivated beds require a sturdy bow rake. The True Temper 14-tooth rake has the strongest blade and handle connection on the market. The stainless steel teeth can be used to break and extend the material, while the smooth side of the head can be used to level the ground. Damrosch suggests purchasing row markers, hard plastic tubes that slide over the teeth of the rake, to create an easy and quick grid for placing grafts.


Clay pot

Set of low pot + saucer in terracotta clay

Every gardener knows that you can never have enough small pots to transplant seedlings. The rustic finish of these terracotta pots can withstand the elements and they look great outdoors or indoors (think solid windowsill or herbs).


Wheelbarrow

Jackson Heavy Gauge Seamless Steel Wheelbarrow with Full Control Handles

Jackson Heavy Gauge Seamless Steel Wheelbarrow with Full Control Handles


Save your back and invest in a wheelbarrow to help move soil, compost or mulch to your flower beds. The one-wheel and two-handle versions are best for maneuverability. Jackson Heavy Gauge seamless steel wheelbarrow handles with full control handles make dumping a lot easier. A two-wheeled option, like the Yard Rover Residential Marathon Lightweight Two-Wheeled Wheelbarrow and Garden Cart, is super stable, making it accessible to users of all ages and strengths.


Raised beds

Yaheetech Raised Garden Bed Kit

If you have poor soil, don’t worry. A raised bed – essentially a large planting box – allows you to create an almost perfect growing environment by adding nutrient-rich soil on top of the soil. The four-sided frames provide fantastic drainage, protect against pests, and work well in small spaces. If you like the options, the Yaheetech Raised Garden Bed Kit can be assembled in various configurations (connected or stacked) and the bed planters are conveniently separated into two growing zones for different planting methods.


Multi-function tool

Hori Hori Ultimate

Think of the Hori Hori as the Swiss Army Knife of gardening. The Japanese term hori hori loosely translates to dig digging, but this miracle tool does much more than that. Made of hardened stainless steel, the Hori Hori Ultimate has an incredibly stiff blade with a straight, serrated edge. Use it to cut the bottoms of dandelions, aerate the soil, or pop the cork of a beer bottle using the smart notch just above the walnut handle.


Extra sharp mowers

Felco F-2 manual pruner

The Swiss-made Felco F2 is the industry standard for bypass pruners. The two curved blades of these one-handed pruners can cut branches up to an inch in diameter, making them ideal for everyday shaping and mowing. Thoughtful features include a sap groove that prevents the blade from sticking when cutting sapwood and shock absorbers that prevent wrist fatigue.


Garden tote

Perroquet waxed canvas tote bag

A reliable garden tote will keep your essential tools close at hand and will also help you avoid losing your favorite trowel or spade in the dirt. This Parrot Canvas waxed tote bag has a stain resistant navy interior and eight pockets that wrap around the exterior so you can easily store your gloves, net curtains and other gear.

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