Tools that Make Gardening Easier

By Joe Lamp’l - Gardening Expert and Host of Growing a Greener World®
February 26, 2022

Joe Gardener's Favorite Gardening Tools

In my many years of gardening, I have adopted a number of favorite tools, from the downright essential to the tools that just make life easier. These are my top tools that no gardener should be without.


Even on short visits to my garden, I always bring my trusty pruners. I know there is a good chance that I will reach for my pruners at least once every time I walk among my plants. It could be a wayward branch that catches my eye or a stray sapling. Or maybe it will be a plant that needs a little shaping up. Having my pruners when I need them saves me a trip later and allows me to tackle a problem immediately rather than adding it to a list of garden chores.

two red pruning shears

A good pair of bypass pruners belongs on your shortlist of must-have tools for garden success. Bypass pruners are designed to cut living stems, while anvil pruners are made for cutting dead growth. During the growing season, it’s bypass pruners that you need.

Soil Knife

This is a tool that most gardeners don’t have in their toolkits but certainly should.

A soil knife (also known as a digging knife or hori-hori) is a strong stainless steel blade that is perfect for planting seedlings. The blade also has a serrated side to effortlessly cut tender weeds. Once you add a soil knife to your gardening toolbox, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one.

I find my soil knife is also handy for cutting open bags of soil or fertilizer. And many soil knives have a notch in the blade that is perfect for cutting twine to open straw bales.

hand digging with soil knife

Another great soil knife feature is a ruler on the blade. Whether I’m drawing out a narrow furrow in the soil for sowing seeds or making sure my spacing between rows is consistent, this knife does the trick.

Scuffle Hoe

Many gardeners dread weeding, but what if I told you there was a tool that could actually have you looking forward to weeding? It’s called a scuffle hoe (aka a winged weeder) and it makes weeding a breeze.

A scuffle hoe is designed to slice through shallow-rooted weeds and sever them right at the soil level. The head of a scuffle hoe has a sharp, stainless steel blade on three sides, so it slices weeds on both pushing and pulling actions. Whether working on an in-ground garden or in a raised bed, the scuffle hoe’s long handle gives you the reach and leverage you need to make quick work of an otherwise big job.

scuffle hoe digging in garden

Small Shovel

A classic shovel can be overkill for most digging in the garden. I’m a big believer in having the right tool for the job, and that’s where the small shovel comes in. It’s bigger than a garden trowel but much shorter than a full-size shovel, putting it right in the sweet spot for many garden tasks.

I have shovels of all sizes, but I take my small shovel into the garden more than any of my others. I like it because it’s lighter and easier to use, and most of the time, I’m not digging that big of a hole. And because it’s small and light, I’m not tired after digging holes. That’s a huge benefit in my book!

Garden Fork

For those big jobs when a long-handled tool is needed to dig or scoop, I often reach for my garden fork rather than a shovel. This four-pronged tool also known as a digging fork is perfect for distributing mulch, turning compost, or making air space in your garden soil. It’s also my go-to for loosening the soil to dig up sweet potatoes.

You may not use a garden fork as frequently as other tools, but when you need it, you’ll be glad you have it. There is no substitute.

garden fork digging in garden


If there is only one tool on this list that you already have, I bet it’s a rake. But today there are so many different styles of rake to choose from. And I know because I’ve tried them all!

You can get a couple of different types of rakes for different tasks, but the “old reliable” among rakes is the ubiquitous, flexible steel-tined garden rake. There are narrow rakes and extra-wide rakes for the rare specialty job, but the classic garden rake is the most versatile and will get the job done in 99 percent of cases.

Tip Bag or Tub

Even a small garden can produce a surprising amount of debris. While wheelbarrows and garden carts are great for the big disposal jobs, lightweight and flexible tip bags and plastic tubs are more convenient for smaller jobs.

You will discover more ways to use your tip bags and tubs in the garden the more you use them. From prepping potting soil or compost to mixing liquid fertilizer, to harvesting vegetables, to loading up those weeds you just pulled, this is one of the most versatile tools you can have in and around your garden.

I hope you found my list of top tools for every garden helpful. And remember, if you take care of your tools, put them away when you’re finished, and keep them clean and dry, they will serve you for many years to come.