12 Must-Have Basic Garden Tools

Basic Garden Tools-ShovelBasic Garden Tools:

To begin gardening, you need very few tools to start. A trowel and some dirt might do, for now, but as you become a more avid gardener, you will undoubtedly want to gather more and more garden tools for your collection. I have compiled a list of 12 basic garden tools you might need for your garden, a little information about how each one is used, and what to look for when buying them.

Shovel or Spade-

Used for digging, removing/spreading dirt, gravel, or sand. Great tool to aid in planting trees or shrubs.

When you look for a new shovel, you want to find one that is made from forged metal, has a sharp digging edge, and sturdy construction. Fiberglass handles are a great feature on most long handled garden tools.

Garden Hoe- 

Used for moving soil, digging planting trenches, and removing weeds.

New garden hoes should be made of strong forged metal and have no moving parts.

        Pitchfork or Garden Fork-  

Use a pitchfork to loosen and aerate soil, and dig root vegetables,  bulbs, and plants.

Look for a forged steel head construction with a sturdy, easy grip, comfortable handle. 

  Leaf or Lawn Rake- 

Used for raking lighter items, such as leaves, grass, straw, hay, small sticks and twigs, and lawn debris.

Metal tines are best on a leaf rake. Be sure all parts are firmly attached. More on how to Choose the Right Rake for the Job (here).

Bow Rake- 

Used for breaking down and smoothing soil and spreading gravel, sand, or mulch.

Look for heavy duty, forged construction, and no wiggle in the handle.

 Garden Trowels (several sizes)- Used for planting small plants, such as annuals and perennials like vegetable, herb garden, flower bed plants and bulbs. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes suitable for specific jobs. 

Same as a shovel, look for forged metal,  sturdy construction, no moving parts.

 Hand Rake-  

Handy for getting between plants, spreading mulch, or removing debris from small spaces. Mini rakes are usually in a set with several sizes of trowels.

Again, look for sturdy construction and no moving parts. 

  Pruning Shears- 

Use pruning shears for pruning, trimming, and shaping bushes, shrubs, and small trees.

Look for easily maintained pruning shears with heavy-duty tempered steel construction, “Bypass” blades, and comfortable hand grips.

Garden Gloves- 

Worn while gardening and working in the yard, garden gloves help keep hands clean and protect them from splinters, blisters, and sometimes the sun.

Choose gloves that are made from a washable, durable fabric or leather with durable seam construction.

Knee Pads or Kneeling Pads- 

Used to keep your knees and legs free from dirt and stains, protect them from injury, and give them a soft place to land.

Kneeling pads should be lightweight, comfortable, and at least 3/4 inch thick. A handle for carrying is also a nice benefit.

Watering Can- 

Used for carrying water to plants when there is not a hose near by or watering hard to reach plants.

1-2 gallon size is best for outdoor use. I personally like metal watering cans, as they tend to last longer than plastic. Removable sprinkler heads are an added bonus.


Used for hauling large amounts of leaves, soil, sand, gravel, weeds, and other debris.

Look for heavy seamless steel tub, extra front braces, and long hardwood or metal handles.

Do you have any basic garden tools you can’t live without? I would love to hear from you, let me know in the comments.


About Nelle

I am Nelle. I grew up in rural, small town, Ohio. When I was young, I learned a lot about homesteading from my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, 4-H, FFA, and others around me.
Now, I’m all grown up, have 6 children of my own, and plan to teach them everything I know.

Here on Mama’s Homestead, we talk and write about homesteading, homeschooling, and kidsteading (homesteading with kids). We teach our kids about survival, self-sufficiency, gardening (vegetable, herb, flower), orchard, beekeeping, home keeping, soap making, harvesting, cooking, food preservation, livestock, nature, crafts, homesteading tools and wares, and more…

Welcome to my homestead…come and learn with us!

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