If you’re new to gardening, you might be wondering where to start. To help you get to grips with the basics, we’ve created lots of helpful guides and tips on gardening for beginners.
When starting out, it’s useful to have the right kit. So we’ve put together a list of the top 10 essential tools you’ll need to kickstart your gardening adventure. They range from gardening gloves that will protect your hands to cutting and digging tools such as secateurs, spades and hoes. Plus we’ve got some handy tips on how to take care of your tools, to ensure they work reliably and last for years.
If you’re looking for more specific kit, check out our expert reviews of tried-and-tested products, including the best garden hoses, best cordless garden tools and best cordless mowers, as well as our tailored guides such as the best Japanese garden tools.
Keen to grow vegetables? Then take a look at our guide to the essential kit for the veg plot. And if you want to help kids get into gardening for the first time, we’ve got a list of children’s gardening sets and lots of handy tips for gardening with children too.
The best gardening tools for beginners in 2023
Take a look at our list of essential garden tools below:
Before you start ripping up pesky weeds or pruning roses, you’ll need a pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands.
There are many different gloves available, suitable for different jobs and weather conditions but a good quality, multi-purpose pair like these "all seasons" gloves by Briers are ideal for most tasks.
Check out our guide on the best gardening gloves for more handy buys.
The pruning and tidying of plants is a regular garden task and a pair of secateurs will become one of your most useful pieces of kit. Garden clippers - a bit like scissors - which can be operated with one hand they are a worthwhile investment and will set you up for seasons to come.
A good garden hand trowel is useful for a whole host of jobs including hand weeding, planting, potting on and seed sowing.
This trowel by Wilkinson Sword is made from stainless steel, so it's rust resistant and long lasting plus it comes with a 10 year guarantee, so it's great value for money.
A useful tool for planting in the garden, a hand fork will help break up compacted and clay soil and can cut through stony ground with ease.
This hand fork from Spear and Jackson has a strong, coated carbon steel head as well as an ergonomic, soft grip handle to protect your hand.
To keep seedlings and young plants refreshed a watering can with a “rose” (the sprinkler attachment on the end of the watering spout) will distribute water more lightly and evenly.
A Haws watering can is a gardening classic and this model has a seven litre capacity as well as a brass rose for a gentle water spray. For more ideas, read our list of the best watering cans.
For established plants in beds and containers using a hose for watering is quicker, easier and puts far less strain on the back than using a can.
We've reviewed a whole range of the best garden hoses and hose spray guns and the Hozelock Pico Reel is a light and easy kit for a small space. It has good features, comes with a five-year warranty and is great value for money.
Essential for digging and planting a spade should be high on your garden tools list.
During our expert testing process for the best garden spade, we awarded Kent and Stowe’s Stainless Steel Digging Spade Best Buy status. The stainless steel blade cuts cleanly through the ground and it feels robust and comfortable to use.
A garden fork is just the thing for getting vegetable plots and borders ready for planting. Perfect for getting through stony soil, the back of the fork also breaks down clods ready for raking.
This digging fork from Spear and Jackson has polished stainless steel tines and an ergonomic grip so its comfortable to use.
For clearing weedy ground, a Dutch hoe will skim off weeds in no time.
We tried and tested a range of the best garden hoes to find which was the most effective and easy to use and our testers awarded the DeWit Dutch Hoe Best Buy status and full marks in every category.
Lightweight and easy to use, it hoes smoothly, is excellent quality and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
One of the most essential gardening tools, a ground rake breaks soil down to a fine tilth thats perfect for seed sowing. The wide head and teeth allow the tool to open and level the top surface of the soil, while tamping the ground with the back of the rake will help firm it down.
This ground rake from Burgon and Ball is made from stainless steel, has an ash handle and is endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Why you need the right tools
If you want to keep your garden and plants in tip-top condition, it’s essential to use the correct equipment. Using the wrong tools can make jobs more difficult, time-consuming and even dangerous, so it pays to invest in the right kit from the start:
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- Efficiency and precision: Designed for unique purposes, each tool will bring efficiency and precision to your gardening, helping you achieve tasks more easily and potentially saving you valuable time. From accurate digging with a strong, durable spade to a neat, clean trim using suitable secateurs, gardening tools can help you get good quality results.
- Safety: Don’t underestimate the importance of safety when gardening – which means choosing the right tool for each job and wearing the correct protective kit. Good quality gardening gloves help to prevent injury from thorns and prickles, as well as keeping you clean. Many tools are also ergonomically designed to minimise muscle strain and reduce the need to bend or stretch too far.
- Healthy plants: Regular maintenance of your plants, lawn and soil using the appropriate tools will contribute to their overall health, productivity and appearance. With the right watering can you’ll be able to keep your potted plants thriving in hot weather, pruning with sharp secateurs will promote healthy growth, and a rake will help you create perfect soil conditions so your seedlings grow well.
- Weed management: Using tools such as hoes, forks and rakes will help keep weeds at bay.
- Design and creativity: Gardening tools allow you to get creative in your garden. Once you have a vision and design idea, you can use the various tools, from hoes to spades, to see it through.
How to take care of gardening tools
Regular maintenance of your gardening tools is essential to ensure their longevity and good performance, as well as your own safety. Here are our top tips on how to look after them:
- Cleaning: Before you put your tools away at the end of any gardening task, clean them to remove the dirt and debris that they may have picked up. Use a wire brush or stiff-bristle brush to scrub off stubborn soil, and use a solution of water and mild detergent on sticky sap residue. Dry thoroughly before storing them, to prevent rusting. Never leave them out in the garden – always put tools away after use.
- Sharpening: Ensure bladed tools always work smoothly and efficiently by sharpening them regularly. Blunt tools are harder to use and can damage your plants and cause injury to yourself too.
- Metal care: Keep the metal parts of your tools in good condition by oiling them regularly. Apply a thin layer of oil, such as linseed oil, to prevent rust damage – this is particularly important for tools that are in contact with moisture or soil frequently. Always store tools in a dry place.
- Handle care: If your tools have wooden handles, check them regularly for any splinters or cracks. Sand down any rough spots to prolong their lifespan, and keep them dry at all times. Take care of plastic and rubber handles by wiping them down regularly to prevent dirt building up.
- Storage: Store your tools in a cool, dry place to avoid rust and any other damage. Consider investing in a shed or weatherproof storage box to protect them from the elements, and use hooks to hang them up, to keep them organised and easily accessible.
To compliment your essential gardening tools, you might want to consider accessories such as a garden trug, gardening shoes and a garden kneeler for weeding. If you need somewhere to store your new kit, take a look at our best garden sheds round-up which is full of tips for what to look for when buying a new shed.