These are the must have gardening tools for beginning gardeners

Beginner gardeners may be surprised at the range of gardening tools available. However, with a few great tips – and a solid list of must-haves – you can stock up on what you need for a successful gardening season.

And stocking up early will be essential this year, according to Tom Estabrook, vice president of the Estabrook Garden Center, which has branches in Yarmouth and Kennebunk.

“There will be challenges this year,” Estabrook said. “There will not be so many people who will be able to come to the garden center. If you’re ordering supplies online, think of it like Hannaford-To-Go: We’re going to be overwhelmed at some point. “

The scramble for tools is due, in part, to the pandemic. Many people stuck at home suddenly take an interest in gardening. In addition to this, some local community gardens, like the Bangor Community Garden, will not open their common tool sheds in order to be extra careful during the coronavirus, so even experienced gardeners may need tools that they can use. ‘they hadn’t before.

Here are the tools you need to get started and tips for choosing the best ones, according to local experts.

Hand trowel

A hand trowel is useful for all gardeners, whether they are looking after a single raised bed or a large buried lot.

Beginner gardeners may want to opt for a trowel with measurements etched into the blade.

“I think it’s definitely helpful, especially for new gardeners,” said Kate Garland, horticulture specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. “A lot of times people are a little nervous about in-depth recommendations and they want to be specific. If you are buying a trowel, I suggest you buy something that has measurements on it. However, there is a lot of wiggle room with planting, so don’t stress too much about planting depths.

Garland also recommended a right angle trowel for transplanting seedlings.

“I really like this one,” she said. “That way you don’t disturb the ground [as much]. It’s very fast. If you’re ready to do a whole bunch of transplants, that’s very, very effective.

Shovel or shovel

Spades and shovels are ideal for loosening, breaking up, picking up and moving soil. The type of head you choose for your tool will depend on the tasks you want to accomplish.

“If you’re doing edging work like around a flower bed, you want a straight shovel,” said Donna Coffin, extension professor at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. “A shovel is a better all-rounder. It’s easier to dig with it. The right shovel, if you are spreading nutrients for the garden, this is convenient, but you can also use a shovel to do it.

There are several types of handles to choose from, including wood, plastic composite and even fiberglass.

“If you buy fiberglass, it’s going to last forever,” Estabrook said. “If this is your first shovel, all shovels will perform just fine, so don’t feel like you have to get the best shovel right off the bat. “

To make gardening easier, Melissa Higgins, Wholesale Manager at Sprague’s Nursery, recommends a Radius garden shovel.

“The [ergonomic] the handle is the key here, ”she said. “It has the nicest skid plate to rest your boot on.”

Gardening fork

Garland said a good garden fork is essential for loosening, turning and lifting the soil.

“It’s kind of a one-stop-shop tool,” Garland said.

The type of garden fork you choose will depend on the style of your garden.

“I really like a long-handled pitchfork in an inground garden versus a raised bed,” Garland said. “Likewise, I like short-handled forks for raised beds. I like to use one or the other to loosen the soil before I start weeding. It helps me get more into the roots.


Rakes help pick up garden debris or distribute mulch without disturbing the soil below.

The material you choose for your rake will depend on both your personal preferences and the task you want to accomplish. For example, Estabrook said it was a good heavy iron rake for raking mulch. On the other hand, a soft plastic or wire rake is good for cleaning the leaves.

Alicyn Smart, assistant professor of extension and extension plant pathologist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, said she generally prefers metal rakes for gardening tasks.

“They are able to catch tangled leaves that may have been there for a few years,” she explained.


Whether you are cutting brambles, pruning roses or thinned seedlings, a quality pair of pruning shears will make gardening tasks much easier and safer than if you had to tackle your plants with craft or kitchen scissors. .

Expert gardeners recommend spending a little more on secateurs. Once you make that investment, they will last a long time. Smart, Garland, and Estabrook all recommended Felco pruners, which average around $ 60 a pair.

“This would probably be the last pair of pruning shears you would buy,” Estabrook said. “At first you can buy inferior quality, but your hands won’t like you after a while. “

If you are investing in quality pruning shears, proper care is essential.

“I can’t talk about pruners without mentioning that they need to be cleaned often because you create a sore and potentially spread disease with every cut,” said Smart. “You can clean them with 70% rubbing alcohol, which is not corrosive to bleach. “

Whichever brand you choose, however, Higgins said to make sure you choose bypass pruners, which have two curved blades that contour in the same way as a pair of scissors.

“The spring is the thing here,” Higgins said. “[It] makes pruning easier for everyone, even those with arthritis. Many versions of these, from cheap to expensive.

Gardening gloves

Beginner gardeners should invest in a good set of gardening gloves, not only to protect your hands from dirt, but also to prevent injury from sharp objects, garden chemicals, or fungal pathogens.

When choosing gardening gloves, you need to consider the cut as well as the material, the best of which will depend on what you want to do. Estabrook and Garland both recommended nitrile coated gloves, which have a semi-waterproof coating on the palm and fingertips that will allow for both wet and dry gardening tasks.

Garland said that generally the thinner the glove the better. However, for heavy tasks – like moving rocks or gardening in cold weather – thicker, insulated leather gloves may be preferable.

Wheelbarrow, tarp or bathtub

A wheelbarrow, or other mechanism for moving large piles of soil, compost, and debris, is an essential garden tool. Although Estabrook has said that one-wheeled wheelbarrows can be easier to turn and maneuver if you know how, he and other experts recommend two-wheeled wheelbarrows for easy maneuvering.

Image Bank from Pixabay

“You want to pick one that makes you most comfortable,” he said. “A two-wheeled wheelbarrow will be much more stable if you have trouble lifting and balancing things. “

As for the size of the wheelbarrow, Garland said to make sure you don’t choose a wheelbarrow that is too large for you to move around once it’s filled with debris.

“It really has to adapt to your body type and your ability to really move,” she said. “Bigger isn’t always better.”

Estabrook suggests considering the weight and durability of wheelbarrows when purchasing. Plastic and hard resin, for example, will be lighter than steel wheelbarrows. But when it comes to durability, steel will last a lifetime.

However, as Estabrook puts it, wheelbarrows are a “storage nightmare”. If you don’t have space for a wheelbarrow in your home, Smart and Garland both recommend using a large tarp to lug around dirt and debris.

“That’s pretty much what I use,” Garland said. “It’s easy to pack. I just laid it out and put the debris on it, bundled it in my hands and dragged it to where I need to take it.

Garland said a 5-by-6-foot tarp should suffice.

“You don’t want to overload yourself and then make it something that you can’t pull or drag where you need to,” she said.

If a tarp isn’t your speed, Estabrook recommended a lightweight, flexible tub for hauling debris, like Tubtrugs.

“It’s a nice kind of gel plastic jar that you can throw trash in,” Estabrook said. “You can keep it next to you while you work. They come in many sizes and colors.

Garden wagons are another option.

“Now they sell little carts that you can use as well, depending on how much stuff you’re going to be carrying,” she said. “[For a raised bed], you wouldn’t need a very large wheelbarrow. One of those little garden carts would work for a while.

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