Most backyard gardeners don’t need an entire shed full of tools to tend to their vegetable gardens—a few sturdy hand tools will do the trick! This is especially true if you garden in raised beds or containers. Using a big rake on a raised bed is like using a sledgehammer to put in a push pin—there is such a thing as too much tool.
The right tools for the job will make it so you can plow through your garden to-do list more efficiently. We’ve tested lots of Garden Hand Tools in the Growfully gardens, and this list is out best of the best. Let’s dig in!
What hand tools do I need?
There are hundreds of different kinds of garden hand tools—trowels, spades, weeders, pruners, hoes, cultivators, oh my! But a savvy gardener just has a few, high-quality tools that they use every day. If you are just starting out, here is our list of must-haves:
Trowel—AKA: a mini shovel. A Hand Trowel is a must-have hand tool for every gardener. Invest in a good one with inch markings and a sturdy handle.
Cultivator—AKA: a manual rototiller or mini-rake. Use this Hand Cultivator to mix in soil amendments, aerate the soil, rake in seeds, or rake back mulch. Many tools have a cultivator on one side, and a hoe on the other (like this one).
Hoe—A sharp hoe is a must-have for removing weeds in your beds and containers. There are at least a dozen different shapes of hand hoes, but we really like either a classic hoe, circular hoe, or Nejiri Gama hoe.
Harvest/Weeding Knife—Growing up, there was always an old knife stuck into the top of the fence post in my parents’ garden, and I have one now, too! An old kitchen knife works, but you can also upgrade to a Hand Weeder and harvest knife if you want the real deal.
Scissors or Shears—A good pair of garden scissors or shears is a must-have for harvesting herbs and greens. These small pruning snips have a permanent spot in my garden harvest basket.
Hand Pruners—AKA: secateurs. A good, sharp pair of hand bypass pruners will make your life so much easier!
How do I store hand tools?
For the longest life, keep Long Handle Tools covered and out of the weather. Make sure they are clean before you put them away. On tools with exposed metal, a thin layer of mineral oil can keep them from rusting if stored in a humid environment.
How do I clean and disinfect hand tools?
Hand tools should be regularly cleaned and disinfected. This is especially true if you used your tools on a diseased plant—you can easily spread bacterial and fungal diseases among plants on your tools.
For most (non-diseased plant) purposes, a gentle wash under the garden hose to clean off dirt and debris will do the trick. Make sure the tools are completely dry before you store them—you can dry them in the sun or by using a cloth.
Use a metal file to lightly sharpen the edges of tools. Again, you don’t want to grind away too much of the metal, just use it to smooth out nicks, remove burrs, and give a nice clean edge. On some Garden Cutting Tools (like hedge clippers and axes), you’ll need to follow up with a sharpening stone lubricated with oil for a finer edge.