7 Essential Tools for the Outdoor Gardener

Spring is right around the corner. Are you prepared for it? Do you know the basics of what you should have on hand to make your outdoor gardening efforts pay off with little fuss? Before you wander into your local garden center and find yourself overwhelmed by the large array of gardening implements, check out this guide for arming yourself with the basics.

1. The Trowel. Every gardener needs at least one. It serves as an extension of your hand and is indispensable for breaking up hard soil, popping up weeds, and light digging in general. : get 2 or 3 with different width blades.

2. Garden shovel or spade. Dig it? Trowels only go so far when it comes to moving dirt. The real work has to rely on our old friend – the shovel (or spade – but that might not be considered “politically correct” :)). Shovels can have wide or narrow blade (the narrow bladed ones are called sharpshooters), and the blade can be pointed, round, or square. For most (0%) of your gardening activities, the type shown in the photo will be just right.

4. Watering Wand. This tool allows you to be very precise when watering your plants, whether they are veggies of . Works much better than a watering can, and doesn’t have to be refilled every 2 minutes. Most watering wands are adjustable, and many have triggers, so you can give the plant as little or as much water as it needs. Coupled with the gentle water flow that does not disturb flow, it is a product every serious gardener should embrace.

5. Pruning Shears. I carry a pair of these whenever I go out into the yard or garden regardless of whether or not I am planning on pruning anything. (Hint: if you have “painter” style shorts or pants, most pruners fit into the side pocket). Pruners are useful for many tasks cutting branches and trimming out of control plants, to severing intrusive roots, to the occasional weed pop (close them up first). You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve forgotten to take a pair out into the yard with me and regretted it later.

6. Twine. Used to tie up plants to bamboo stakes or other landscape stakes (below), to fences, or just to keep sagging branches from sagging. Can also be used sometimes to fix or position other things like sprinklers. I occasionally use twine to broken branches. You will definitely regret it when you need a quick fix and you can’t find the twine. Pick up a few spools, just in case.

Bamboo Stakes. Bamboo stakes are the best. I avoid metal stakes because they can cause havoc with lawnmower (and other) blades if they wind up in the wrong place. Bamboo is stiff, endures the elements  pretty well, and is biodegradable as opposed to plastic stakes. Use these to keep plants upright and “in control” (use in conjunction with the twine above).

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