15 Incredibly Useful Garden Tools You Need Right Now

gardener using tool to harvest peppers

Simple and elegant garden solutions.

This phrase is featured on one of my workshop slides when I teach classes to passionate gardeners all around the US. It helps me introduce the philosophy behind The Creative Vegetable Gardener and how I personally approach gardening. I’m a minimalist with most things in my life, and especially with gardening. I always try the easiest thing first, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll try the next easiest thing.

I always strive to keep things simple in the garden.

I don’t like complicated systems or impractical garden supplies. In fact, I don’t think there are many things you actually “need” to start growing your own food. When I was hired to start a vegetable garden installation business for a non-profit 10 years ago I went to the home improvement store with a short list of tools and supplies to purchase.

As a garden educator, I’ve been sent in the mail lots of different tools and supplies to try out over the years. A few of them have become indispensable, but many of them have been given away. This past fall we cleaned out our garage and a lot of items got put on the curb. I trimmed the fat and streamlined things so I’m only keeping what I use on a daily or weekly basis.

In this post, I thought I’d share what I think are the best garden tools every gardener should have in her shed or garage. None of these companies are sponsoring this post. I’m sharing these tools because they’re what I personally use in my own garden.

using garden tool to harvest potatoes

Look at how happy I am using my favorite garden tool to harvest potatoes!

The Best Garden Tools for Every Vegetable Gardener

Click on any item picture to go right to the listing in Amazon to find out more and read reviews from other gardeners.

This post contains affiliate links.

#1: Digging Fork

I not only have one, but two digging forks hanging in my garage I love them so much. When I used to run a youth farming program I would forbid the students from weeding unless they had digging fork in their hand. It’s the best tool for popping weeds out by the roots. I also use it to harvest carrots and potatoes, loosen up garlic before harvesting, and break up clods of my clay soil before planting.

 

Find out more by clicking on the image.

My hubby also bought me this digging fork from Johnny’s Seeds one year for my birthday. He knows what his wife likes!

This tool is a must have if you’re a gardener who has weeds in his garden. Yep, that means everyone!

#2: Hard Rake

It’s best not to disturb the soil of your garden beds too much, but a hard rake is very handy when smoothing out the top of the beds when preparing to plant small seeds like carrots, beets, and lettuce. This tool is always the second one I grab after the digging fork.

I found both of mine at garage sales, but this Fiskars version would look great hanging next to their version of the digging fork in your garage!

Find out more by clicking on the image.

#3: Shovel

I took a break from writing this blog post when my husband called out that dinner was ready. When we sat down I asked him what he would put on this list, since we do a lot of the garden work together. A shovel was right up there for him. Although I don’t tend to use a shovel very much in the vegetable garden, we do use it often when planting and moving perennial plants, trees, and shrubs. It’s hard to imagine having a landscape and not having a shovel.

This company makes their tools in the US.

Find out more by clicking on the image.

wheelbarrow as tool for harvesting onions

#4: Wheelbarrow

What can’t you use a wheelbarrow for? Transporting tools and supplies from the garage to the garden, moving weeds from the garden to the compost pile, and holding freshly harvested onions and garlic. I use my wheelbarrow several times a week and I can’t imagine not having one leaning against my garage ready to be put to work at a moment’s notice.

I don’t buy any plastic garden tools anymore since they always break. I suggest spending a little more money and getting a metal contractors grade wheelbarrow. I’ve had mine for 12 years and I’ve only had to replace a few bolts that loosened up over time.

Mine is a boring black color. If I had the choice I definitely would have purchased this cheery blue one! This company makes their tools in the US (same as shovel above).

 

Find out more by clicking on the image.

#5: Trowel

Wow! There are so many different trowels out there and I’ve tried many of them. During my garage cleaning frenzy recently I got rid of every single trowel I owned except for this one. It’s the best, hands down. I will never buy another trowel again. And in fact, I’ve had this one for over 10 years and it’s holding up great.

I like that its stainless steel and not plastic. I prefer a more narrow trowel instead of the wide models. The red handle makes it easy to find in the garden when I inadvertently put it down somewhere random. I use it for everything from planting seedlings in spring to planting flower bulbs in fall.

Made in the US.

Find out more by clicking on the image.

planting kale with a trowel tool

#6: Watering Can

This is another tool of which I’ve owned several different versions. A few years ago while visiting a super cute garden store in Minnesota I picked up a metal watering can and wished I hadn’t waited so long. My plastic watering cans have photodegraded over time which left them cracked and unusable. This metal one should last for many, many years, even if I leave it outside throughout the season.

Made in the US in Winona, MN.

Find out more by clicking on the image.

watering vegetable garden with a wand tool

#7: Watering Wand

I mulch the heck out of my garden so I don’t have to spend half my life watering, but I still need to manually water my newly planted seeds when it doesn’t rain, especially in the beginning of the season. It’s best to water at the base of the plants, and this rain wand allows me to do just that. It comes with a plastic nozzle, which eventually cracked since I’m hard on my tools. I suggest upgrading to the all metal nozzle when that happens.

These wands are made by a company in Wisconsin and come in fun colors like yellow, green, blue, and purple. The aluminum nozzle is made in the US. I like this particular version because of the way it can be turned on. You can watch the video in the listing.

 

 

Find out more by clicking on the image.

Read my post about how to water your garden the right way.

#8: Hose

The above watering wand won’t do you any good without a hose! If you have a garden you need a way to water it, period. A watering can might cut it for gentle watering of seeds and pots, but you’ll need a hose for everything else.

There are so many crappy hoses out there! I do not want to fill the landfill up with thin hoses that have cracked or broken after a couple of seasons. And honestly, trying to fix a broken hose is such a pain. I suggest paying more for a rubber hose that is either contractor grade or made for professional growers.

Many of Dramm’s products, including this hose, are made in the US by a Wisconsin company that offers a lifetime guarantee. These hoses are available in the same vivid colors as the wand above, so you can coordinate or mix and match!

Find out more by clicking on the image.

#9: Bucket Caddy

How many times do you run back to your garage or garden shed to grab a tool you forgot? For me, it used to be something like… a million times a day?! Now I have this nifty bucket caddy that stores all of my small garden tools like my trowel, measuring tape, clippers, sharpies, and twine. I just grab the whole thing when I head out into the garden and now I make way fewer trips back to the garage.

The only thing I don’t like is that sometimes it loosens up and slips down the bucket. I wish they put some kind of hooks on the top to prevent this from happening. I treated myself to a new black bucket to hold the caddy.

Find out more by clicking on the image.

#10: Clippers

This is another tool of which I have two different versions. I use them each for different tasks in the garden. For harvesting smaller things like herbs, flowers, or cucumbers, I like these finely pointed clippers because it’s easier to get them into tighter spaces.

Find out more by clicking on the image.

For beefier jobs like cutting the roots from onions and garlic, harvesting eggplant, and trimming back perennial plants, I prefer Felco clippers. These were another birthday gift from my husband. Is he the best, or what?!

All Felco tools are very high-quality and made of aluminum and steel in Switzerland. They have a lifetime guarantee and all parts can be replaced.

Find out more by clicking on the image.

herb harvest with scissors

#11: Harvest Scissors

During the growing season, I often run outside to the garden through my kitchen door to harvest a few things for whatever recipe is on that evening’s menu. These scissors, which were gifted to me by my mom, sit in a drawer right by the door so I can grab them as I leave. (I’m sensing a theme here with lots of food-related gifts from loved ones. These people get me!)

These are my favorite harvesting scissors! They’re sturdy, ergonomic, made of metal, and red to match my other tools. (I know, I’m a nerd.) I’ve thought about buying another pair just because I love them so much. If you’re not a fan of red, they also come in yellow, white, and blue.

Find out more by clicking on the image.

#12: Harvest Basket

I highly recommend having a harvest basket you love! It’s such a pleasure to place your colorful food into a container that highlights the beauty of the vegetables you’re harvesting. Plus, it makes for great photos you can later share on social media or just keep for yourself to remember the amazing food you’ve grown.

For me, the visual part of gardening is what feeds me on a very deep, aesthetic level. I revel in the beauty of my garden and the food I’m growing. For this reason, I usually harvest into my favorite basket (below). I bought it from a consignment shop in my neighborhood. I also have several wooden bowls and containers and vintage metal plates, many of which you can see in the photos of this blog.

Have fun hunting down a few harvest baskets and containers of your own to keep near your garden.

The one below is similar to the Southeast Asian rice basket I use for my harvests.

Find out more by clicking on the image.

And there are lots of amazing fair trade baskets out there as well.

Find out more by clicking on the image.

harvest basket for garden

#13: Measuring Tape

This is not a very exciting tool, but it lives in my bucket caddy and I use it a lot. When planting seedlings in the spring I follow very precise spacing because I want to maximize my garden space. This is a habit I picked up from working on an organic farm for a few years and I highly recommend it if you want to grow as much food as possible in your garden.

You can reference the spacing guide I use for planting vegetables in my book, Smart Start Garden Planner.

 

Find out more by clicking on the image.

#14: Organic Fertilizer

After working with thousands of gardeners over the years, as well as having soil struggles in my last two gardens, I’ve been convinced that every gardener should be using organic fertilizer in her garden. You can read more about it in this blog post.

The above post (with accompanying video) teaches you what to look for in an organic fertilizer when you go shopping. Here are some brands you can start with.

Find out more by clicking on the images.

keeping records in garden as a tool

#15: Binder with Map of Your Garden

What’s one of the most important tools for helping you become a better gardener over time? Garden records! Along with all of the things in this list, I always grab my garden binder before I step out to plant anything in my garden. The last section of my book, Smart Start Garden Planner, explains how to set up a simple and quick recordkeeping system.

But, really, all you need to know is this – draw a map of your garden, write down what you plant and when you plant it, and keep it in a binder so it’s easily accessible (and doesn’t get ruined by a watering mishap).

Because my binder has to hold up to water and soil in the garden, I chose to buy a traditional vinyl binder over a paper-based, more eco-friendly binder. This is the exact one I have, except in aqua, which is my favorite color! Used binders are pretty easy to find, so I suggest checking out your local thrift store before buying new.

Find out more by clicking on the image.

The tools on this list have all stood the test of time in my own garden. And as my husband says, we’re hard on things! When shopping for tools and supplies for your garden try to choose higher quality items made of durable materials like stainless steel, aluminum, and metal. In my experience, they tend to last a lot longer than cheap plastic tools.

And that’s a wrap, folks! Is there anything you think I missed on this list? What tools and supplies are a critical part of your gardening routine? Share in the comments below.

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Comments

  • Charlotte Little

    Hi Megan – Love your garden tool share! I put a mailbox next to my garden so I can store a harvest scissors and a mailbox-sized rectangular container so I can do quick harvests on the run. I also keep twine, and clothespins for my row cover there. It’s all contained at a convenient height, and ready to go!

  • I agree with all of your must-have tools. Another tool I find indispensible is my hori-hori knife– I use it more than any other garden tool. It cuts, it digs, it weeds, it helps prepare soil, makes furrows for seeds, etc. I would also add my garden kneeler that can be flipped over to become a stool, and my garden overalls that have a gazillion pockets. Instead of a wheelbarrow I use a 40-year-old Radio Flyer wagon. It holds heavy things, pulls easily, and turns on a dime. There are times when a wheelbarrow would be handy, however my Radio Flyer handles 95% of the transport tasks in the garden. I inherited my digging fork, rake, spade, and shovel from my dad and they have been in use for over 60 years. They don’t make ’em like they used to!

  • Chris Wellington

    Great list Megan. The only other item I have is a curved and serrated knife that I use for harvesting asparagus. (I have a large asparagus patch.) I also have a short handled, small spade that I use in my raised beds. Large spade too, of course. And I agree wholeheartedly about the digging fork.

  • Thank you so much for the “made in the U.S.A./Wisconsin” recommendations. I have a caddy apron but I really like the bucket caddy!

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