Simple garden tools can make all the difference! Sometimes – it’s the most inexpensive and simplest of things that work the best – and when it comes to our list of 6 must-have garden tools – that couldn’t be more true!

There is simply no need for a rototiller or fancy power tools in our garden
There is simply no need for a rototiller or fancy power tools in our garden

You certainly won’t find costly gas -powered tillers, mechanical cultivators, or fancy sprayers on the list.

The fact is – in our 40′ x 60′ raised row garden – there is simply no need to use them.  (see: Raised Row Gardening)

Many are surprised to learn that we maintain our entire garden with just a few inexpensive garden tools – rarely spending more than 10 minutes each day on garden chores. Not only is it more enjoyable and peaceful – but much less costly!

So for today, we thought we would share our 6 favorite tools that have helped keep the garden growing strong each and every year!

Our 6 Must Have Garden Tools

1 – Post Hole Digger

My trusty old post hole digger is the perfect planting tool. This one was my dad's - so it has a little special meaing
Our trusty old post hole digger.This one was my dad’s – so it has a little special meaning.

This may sound strange to top the list – but it has become one of our favorite garden tools! A post hole digger is an absolute must for us on planting days – making quick work of digging each and every planting hole in our garden. We use an inexpensive basic wooden handle model that does the job perfectly.  

It cuts a perfect 8 to 10″ deep hole through the garden soil with little effort.  We take one plunge of soil out, and then fill back in as we plant with the soil and compost.  The hole allows for plenty of room in all directions for seedlings to grow and expand in the rich mixture of compost and loose soil. It’s much easier on the back than bending over and using small trowels – or creating giant craters and clumps of soil with a big shovel.

It sounds crazy – but we can dig all 150+ holes and have our garden planted in 20 to 30 minutes. Try it this year when you plant – and you will be amazed how much time and effort it saves! See: Using A Post Hole Digger To Plant

2 – Hand Held Pruners

must have tools
Our ratcheting pruner

Every gardener needs to have one sharp pair of good hand-held pruners. They are great for trimming and pruning tomato and pepper plants, snipping off asparagus – or trimming or cutting flowers.    

A sharp pair is a must – a nice clean cut is essential to keeping plants healthy and your hands from suffering. I think all gardeners at one time or another have had the misfortune of using a dull pair of cutters that tear instead of cut – leaving plants damaged – and you frustrated.

There are a million styles and brands out there – and you have to find one that fits your hands comfortably. For me, I like the ratcheting style pruners.  They cut down on having to use so much hand strength – which can be a lifesaver when you are pruning out a Although some can be fairly pricey – you can usually find a quality pair for under $20. 

3 – A 3 Prong Rake / Cultivator

must have garden tools
The 3 prong rake – extremely useful in the garden

I can honestly say my love of this tool comes straight from my youth. My mom loved her little 3-prong rake – and used it to take out weeds and cultivate the soil right around her flowers and vegetable plants. 

The 3 prong rake/ cultivator is lightweight, easy on the back – and perfect for breaking up soil, weeding, raking and clearing debris in tight spots. It’s long 3 to 4 inch tines dig deep into the soil for aerating and mixing in nutrients like compost.

After long hot spells – we use it to hoe around our garden plants right before watering –  it opens up dry, baked soil and allows the water to soak in. 

4 – A Good Shovel – Sized For You!

Whether you are creating big planting holes, digging in a cover crop, or turning the compost pile – a good, lightweight sturdy shovel is great to have on hand.

must have garden tools
A good shovel that can stand up to heavy loads is a gardener’s best friend

This is one where spending just a bit more and getting a quality shovel more can bring big dividends.  

The important part is to get one that fits your height and your body right.

In our garden we have two shovels – we affectionately call them the Jim-shovel and the Mary shovel. Mine is a bit larger with a long handle – and Mary’s has a shorter handle with a round hand grip to make that works great for her.  

We both like fiberglass handles – they stand up to a lot more bending and pressure than wood handles – and the lightweight design is a big plus. For just a bit more money – you can usually find shovels with a lifetime warranty – which is money well spent in the long run!

5 – A 5 Gallon Bucket

must have garden tools
The 5 gallon bucket

Who knew a 5 gallon bucket could be so useful.  Whenever we’re in the garden – there is always a 5 gallon bucket close by. For most garden chores it’s the perfect size – and beats hauling out the wheel barrow every time.

It’s fantastic for putting in weeds, carrying compost, mulch or even harvesting. It’s lightweight, inexpensive – and I have yet to find a garden pail or bucket that can stand up to it.

Best part – you can usually find them for free!

6 – A Compost Bin

must have garden tools
Compost is the key to a healthy garden!

Okay – so maybe a compost bin is not an actual tool – but compost really is the most important tool for a garden’s success – and that is why it makes this list! Every garden should have a compost bin nearby. Keeping a bin near the garden makes it easy to discard of cuttings, leaves and debris that are fantastic for making great compost!

If you don’t have one – check out our pallet compost bin project and make your own on the cheap!  (see:Build A Pallet Compost Bin)

So there you have it – 6 of our must-have garden tools! Feel free to let us know what your favorite tool is below in the comment section – we always love learning about any tools and tricks our readers use!

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Happy Gardening! – Jim and Mary

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