The best gardening tools for prepping, planting and beyond

A bountiful garden does not grow by itself. The health of your vegetables and flowers is a direct reflection of the work you do weeding, preparing, pruning and planting. That’s why it’s important to stock up on the best gardening tools and supplies to make the job not only easier but more enjoyable.

Many of these tools – shovels, trowels, spades – are ones you might pick up yourself. But there are plenty of less expected gardening tools that will go a long way towards improving your gardening success. For example, using an organic-based mulch will help retain moisture and prevent weeds, says Barbara Damrosch, author of the garden takes precedencer and co-owner of Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine. And keeping tabs on your soil temperature is essential to the success of many crops, so investing in a good soil thermometer is important.

We asked Damrosch, along with Seattle-based gardening expert Ciscoe Morris and Reba Dodge, owner of Harvest Dream Girl, a Maui-based flower farm, to share the best gardening tools for prepping, planting and beyond. Here are their must-haves.


Soil thermometer

Smart Choice Stainless Steel Soil Thermometer

Soil temperature is most critical at planting time. The air temperature may feel like spring, but below ground the ground can still feel the cold of winter. A simple, inexpensive thermometer, like the Smart Choice Stainless Steel Soil Thermometer, has the exact answer to what you need to plant when (you can also use the free Seed Start Date Calculator at Johnny’s Selected Seeds). Different plants germinate in different soil temperatures, so check the backs of seed packets to find optimal growing conditions, because while some heat is good for seed germination, summer temperatures can hamper further plant growth.


Seed Starter Essentials

GrowEase Seed Starter Kit

You can also take the guesswork out of when to plant your seeds and use the GrowEase Seed Starter Kit’s fail-safe self-watering feature, which guarantees successful germination. A transparent germination cover maintains adequate humidity during seed germination. Made from recycled plastic, it can be put in the dishwasher for easy cleaning between uses.


collinear hoe

Narrow Collinear Hoe — Fixed Blade 3 3/4”

A good collinear hoe will keep all those little annual weeds from starting in the first place. Like a hoe, it is meant to be used while standing. The sharp blade rolls flat with the soil surface to slice through weeds without throwing dirt on nearby seedlings. And it’s especially good for hoeing under salads and leafy vegetables.


Bow Rake

14 Tooth True Temper Bow Rake

Spring gardening tasks such as spreading mulch, crushing clods, compacting soil, and removing roots and rocks from cultivated beds require a heavy-duty bow rake. The True Temper 14-Tine Bow Rake has the strongest blade and handle connection on the market. The stainless steel tines can be used to break up and spread material, while the smooth side of the head can be used to level the ground. Damrosch suggests purchasing row markers, hard plastic tubes that slide over the tines of the rake, to create an easy and quick grid for implanting the grafts.


clay pot

Earthenware Low Threshold Pot + Saucer Set

Every gardener knows that there are never enough small pots for transplanting seedlings. The rustic finish on these terracotta pots can withstand the elements, and they look great outdoors or indoors (think solid windowsill or herbs).


Wheelbarrow

Jackson Heavy Gauge Seamless Steel Wheelbarrow with Full Control Handles

Save your back and invest in a wheelbarrow to help you move soil, compost or mulch to your flower beds. Single wheel and double handle versions are best for maneuverability. The Jackson Heavy Gauge seamless steel wheelbarrow handles with full control grips make unloading easy. A two-wheeled option, like the Marathon Lightweight Residential Two-Wheel Wheelbarrow and Garden Cart, is super stable, making it accessible to users of all ages and strengths.


Raised beds

Yaheetech Raised Garden Bed Set

If you have poor soil, don’t worry. A raised bed—essentially a large planting box—allows you to create a near-perfect growing environment by adding nutrient-rich soil above ground. The four-sided frames offer fantastic drainage, protect against pests and work well in small spaces. If you like options, the Yaheetech Raised Garden Bed Kit can be assembled in different configurations (connected or stacked) and the planters are conveniently separated into two growing areas for different planting methods.


Multi-function tool

Ultimate Hori Hori

Think of the Hori Hori as the Swiss army knife of gardening. The Japanese term hori hori roughly translates to dig dig, but this miracle tool does much more than that. Made from hardened stainless steel, the Hori Hori Ultimate has an incredibly stiff blade with a straight, serrated edge. Use it to cut the bottom of dandelions, aerate the soil or pop the cork off a beer bottle using the nifty notch just above the hickory handle.


Extra Sharp Clippers

Felco F-2 manual pruner

The Swiss-made Felco F2 is the industry standard for bypass pruners. The two curved blades of these one-handed pruners can cut branches up to 2.5 cm in diameter, making them ideal for daily shaping and mowing. Thoughtful features include a sap groove that prevents the blade from sticking when cutting sap wood and shock absorbers that prevent wrist fatigue.


garden tote

Parrot Canvas Waxed Tote Bag

A trusty garden tote will keep your essential tools handy and also help you avoid losing your favorite trowel or spade in the dirt. This Parrot waxed canvas tote bag has a stain-resistant navy blue interior and eight pockets that wrap around the exterior so you can easily store your gloves, veils and other gear.

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