Essential Tools

Hi All, 

I have been been trying to get my garden, greenhouse and veg patch going for a few years, without much success.  This year I am on a mission to do it!!  I am getting a new greenhouse and for my birthday got a hoe and spade, I would like some advice on what other tools I need as essentials.

I want to try and get the best quality I can afford so that they will last, therefore I don't want to get loads of 'cheap' tools and advice on which brands would be helpful as well as a small selection of the most useful tools for use in all areas of my garden.

Also, I do have a pair of shears which are years old (they were my husband's grandads), they are a bit rusty and stiff but seem like good solid ones, will I be able to 'renovate' them easily?

This is my first post so I hope it makes sense!!  Thanks image


  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 7,109

    Hi Tracey - i love my Sneerboer tools, but they are pricey.  I have had my family club together for Christmas and birthdays for the ones i haveimage.  

    Essentials for me are a hand trowel, hand fork, spade and border fork, and a decent pair of secateurs and some sort of sharpening stone.  I also use a kneeler.

    Re renovating a pair of shears - if you can get movement by oiling the joints, and can sharpen the blades (with your new sharpening stone recommended aboveimageimage) then i would imagine they would be ok

    The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones ......
  • Orchid LadyOrchid Lady Posts: 5,800

    Thanks Chicky, I've just read some other threads about a stone, might try and find one.  I will also need some good sandpaper for the rust but I think they will be ok.


  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,357

    Hi Tracey, the two things I use most and would be lost without are my hand trowel and border fork which do 80% of the work in my garden and veg plots.  Next would probably be the spade, secateurs, rake and hoe.  I really recommend using stainless steel tools with wooden handles but have a quite a variety of makes and can't really put one make above another - I just bought the ones that 'felt right' when I handled them in the shop. image

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • KEFKEF Posts: 8,915

    I don't have any one favorite make, but I do agree with Bob about the feel of tools. I have a spade that was pricey bought as a gift and I just can't get on with it, the angle of the handle doesn't suit me.

    Think of all my tools I use my fork the most.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,808

    Hoes, get good hoes!!! a sharp Dutch hoe for regular jiffling of the soil surface to keep down newly germinating weed seeds, and a draw hoe for preparing the soil surface for sowing seeds.  I use them more than any other tools.  After that comes the border fork and the rake, then the spade and the lawn rake. 

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • Hi Tracey5

    All of the above, plus a sharp pair of scissors a ball of nylon twine, and it my seem obvious - a wheelbarrow! I went a year without one and now I have one, brilliant.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,808

    Oh yes, hand trowel and fork - v. important image

    And a wheelbarrow - I had one for Christmas image there was a rumour going around here that OH was getting me a unicycle ....... but it turned out to be a wheelbarrow image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • A good watering can about 5lts with a fine rose and a 90 deg basket attachment I have three all the same and a cheap red can for feeding all with removable roses



  • Pete8Pete8 Posts: 2,834

    Have a look at Fred's Shed website.
    I've been using his site whenever I need new garden tools.
    He's disabled and tests garden tools from his perspective.
    I can thoroughly recommend his site and suggestions.

    I have no connection whatsoever  with the aforementioned Fred, but I did write to thank him for his excellent recommendations.

    Good luck

    Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
    Because if you do it today and you like it - you can do it again tomorrow.
  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,122

    Buy tools with Ash handles and carbon steel blades /tines. There are plenty of makes to choose from, but just dont buy anything with plastic or metal handles. They bend or break very quickly.

  • Orchid LadyOrchid Lady Posts: 5,800
    Thanks everyone that's more replies than I was expecting for a newbie ???? I have a hoe and a spade but am definitely going to invest in a good fork and hand trowel. Thanks again. T
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,171

    I have a stainless steel spade and fork as they are best for clay soils and tend to last.  Buy th ebest you can afford and pay attention to the length of the handle.  The longer the better for avoiding back trouble - unless you yourself are short.   I also have a stainless steel hand fork with a wooden handle that is very comfy to use for close work. 

    The best secateurs are Felco's - last for years and years.   For all my other tools I like the Wolf system of interchangeable short, medium and long handles and assorted heads depending on the job in hand.  I like the double bladed hoe for weeding, available in two widths in the UK and good for going between plants in the border and rows of veggies.   The cultivator heads, rake head and weed extractor are very good to have and they do a decent pair of big loppers too.

    Another essential tool is WD40 for spraying on tools after cleaning and a couple of plastic trugs for weeding in borders where a wheelbarrow won't fit.


    The Vendée, France
  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,168

    The most used tools in my garden are; a trowel, several buckets, a small tarpaulin with handles, hoes; various, and a lawn rake, which is used to get leaves and twigs off the pea shingle surrounding the veg beds. Secateurs, plus ratchet secateurs (brilliant for hefty pruning) scissors for dead heading, several pairs of gardening gloves, knee pads and a kneeler which flips over to become a stool. I scarcely ever use a spade - far more likely to use a fork. A course sieve for sifting home made compost, a compost stirrer and a weeding tool for dandelion roots. I tend to buy mid-priced tools and have no loyalty towards any particular brand; if it feels right in the hand, not too heavy or large (rather like me actuallyimage) then I buy it.

    I would recommend getting tools as you identify a need for them, e.g.I have a telescopic lopper as there is a willow leaning over my garden from the field.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,808

    Tracey, I'd recommend getting a border fork rather than a standard sized one - much more manageable size and you won't do your back in as easily with the smaller one image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,171

    Ditto spade.  I don't dig borders but I do dig up plants for dividing or transplanting and dig holes for planting new shrubs.   The smaller border spade blades are perfect.

    I also have an old bread knife for sawing up root clumps when I'm dividing plants.

    The Vendée, France
  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,168

    Oh, and old spoons for fish blood and bone stuff and compost accelorator. Old washing up brush for cleaning flowerpots and seed will probably need a shed for all this lot, but don't panic, your collection of tools will grow quite slowly.

  • Orchid LadyOrchid Lady Posts: 5,800 head is buzzing now ha ha!! Some really good ideas and things I wouldn't have thought of. I already have gloves and a few other basics but do need a new kneeling pad so will definitely get one that doubles as a stool, spoon, washing up brush etc are great ideas and not very costly.

    One more question, what is the difference between a border fork/spade and regular one, are they just smaller? I think the spade I bought is a border one but not sure, I did buy both that and the hoe based on the feel and they both are stainless steel with wooden handles.

    Thanks again everyone.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,357

    Yes, the business ends of border forks and spades are about two thirds the size of standard ones.image

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 2,908

    Lots of good advise above.

    I'd recommend the Wolf system of interchangeable handles and assorted heads for tools. I haven't got the system but would if I needed to start from fresh.

    Don't think anyone's mentioned a thermometer for the GH ,not sure it's a tool more an essential item. Most people rate the max/min one's, if you choose this get one which you can change the battery.

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