the bare minimum garden tools 

Garden tools in brown canvas tote.

Like everything else in life, gardening is easier when you're working with the appropriate tools. 

But tools are expensive, so which ones do you really need? 

You'll definitely need a few tools to start gardening.

You don't have to splurge on the top of the line, but don't buy the flimsy $2 variety, either. They'll break or bend and frustrate you.

Get sturdy tools with a comfortable weight and grip. I like the ones with cords or holes in the handles so I can hang them up. This guide to the essential gardening tools will walk you through the basics.

Hand Trowel

Hand trowel: That's the little spade. You'll use it for planting, scooping, digging. It's essential. You'll want one that's very strong, a good weight and feels good in your hand because it will be there a lot.

Choose a drop shank trowel (one with a bit of a lbend in metal above the handle) for regular work.

Use a straight shank trowel for planting bulbs. Expect to pay about $6 or $7 for a good one.


There are two main types of pruners, and you'll probably need both. Anvil pruners work by pinching the stem against a flat base. These are better for cutting dry or tough stems or branches.

Bypass pruners cut more like scissors with the two blades passing each other. These are better for pruning younger, green stems or branches. Look for pruners with adjustable blades for stems of varying thickness.


You need shovels to dig holes for bigger plants, especially if your ground is hard and compacted. (I had to take a pickax to mine.) Choose a round-point shovel for routine yard work.

Garden Tools Tote

You'll need something to put your garden tools in so you can carry them around the yard with you. Otherwise, you'll walk yourself crazy. 

The tote can be as simple as a plastic bucket or as elaborate as a rolling gardening cart replete with cushioned seat. I like the bucket organizer, a cloth bib with pockets that fits over a five-gallon bucket.

That way, I can toss weeds, etc., in the bucket and have all my tools hanging on the side. 

You could also use a plastic caddy, a canvas tool tote bag, a tool belt, or a pocketed apron. Your call - but you will need something.

Garden Hose

If you have an irrigation system, you are in fine shape. But you will still need a hose to water in new transplants and potted plants. Ensure the hose is long enough to reach all parts of your yard, or consider getting one for the front and another for the backyard.

People in apartments or condos can get away with lightweight hoses; but if you have a yard, consider getting a medium or heavy-weight hose. It is not only more durable but coils more easily.

Most people will also want a contraption to roll up and store the garden hose to keep it neat and tidy. But that's not essential. 


You hate gloves. I'm not too fond of gloves. But you need to wear them to protect your hands from cuts and blisters. Also, gardening will dry out your skin.

There are several different types of gloves (of course): Many people like leather gloves, but I find them too clumsy. I prefer cool cloth gloves with rubberized grips on the palm and fingers. When I'm gardening in wet soil, I wear rubber gloves with a cotton lining.

Kneeling Pad

Anyone who has gardened would certainly put kneeling pads on the necessity list. These foam rubber pads will save your knees. 

Gardening Hat

I never wear a hat. I always mean to wear a hat, but I always forget. Do as I say, not as I do.

Gardening Clogs 

OK, you don't necessarily need clogs, but you need waterproof shoes that you can easily slip on and off, so you don't track dirt into your house. Rubber clogs work best for me.