The 3 Essential Gardening Tools

The 3 Essential Gardening Tools

Gardening, as you may already know, can get prohibitively expensive–but it doesn’t have to be. There are tools you need and tools that are nice to have. For most gardens in the Bay Area, these three items are the bare minimum you can expect to need to get started seriously gardening.

A Trowel

A shovel you can rely on is important to every gardener, and depending on the size and scope of your gardening, it can be the only “tool” you really need. You can use a trowel for digging out weeds by the roots, transplanting, scooping soil and other materials, and even to fluff up packed earth before planting.

Trowels come in all sorts and sizes, some are larger, metal, and heavy, which can succumb to rust if left wet. My preference actually came to me by accident: I bought a trowel for my son to use in the garden. Instead of buying a “children’s” tiny, flimsy shovel, I got a regular one, but made of plastic. Why buy kids tools that won’t last them very long? In the end, I started using his. I love its lightweight feel, comfortable handle, and that when he or I leave it out in the garden by accident, I don’t have to worry about it rusting. Plus, it’s made by Fiskars, a company I already know and trust for my sewing tools, and they offer a lifetime warranty on most of their products.

I recommend: Fiskars FiberComp Trowel

If you prefer metal tools, or just want to check out bundles, this is a great link.


You can garden bare-handed, but I don’t recommend it. Gloves make it easier to grab those wet weeds, transplant your baby plants, and extract snails from your plants’ leaves. 


The very basic gloves required are waterproof on at least the palms, but they can be fully waterproof as well. These will get you through most gardening projects while keeping your fingernails clean–black soil under your nails and in the wrinkles of your skin is NOT a good look outside of a farm.

I recommend: Wonder Grip Latex Gloves

You can also find packages of gardening gloves, usually with a waterproof palm and fabric back, at Costco or hardware stores in the spring. I buy these, as I end up ruining gloves just by using them so much. These are often a great deal.

Garden Safety

If you, like me, have a problem with blackberry brambles and thistles popping up in your garden, you may wish to go ahead and get yourself some Rose Gloves. These are longer, like gauntlets, to cover the tender part of your arms and wrists. They can be leather, goatskin, or microfiber.

I recommend: Professional Rose Pruning Thornproof Gardening Gloves with Extra Long Forearm Protection

Pruning Shears/Clippers

Clippers/shears are what you’ll need to harvest those prickly cucumbers from the vine and to cut the stems of woody weeds you can’t just pull out of the ground. Make sure you pick a good brand of clipper, and take good care of your pair. You want the blade edges to stay sharp, so never rinse with water, which can rust them, but clean with rubbing alcohol.

I recommend: Fiskars Steel Bypass Pruning Shears

The Fiskars choice above is both from a good brand and offered at a low price. If you are looking for something more hefty, check out the full list. I do think it makes sense to start with inexpensive shears and then upgrade later when you’re sure you will stick with gardening and when you know what you like and don’t like.

That’s It!

Of course, you’ll need seeds and compost and pots and other items as you create and grow your garden, but with these three you are ready to tackle most of what gardening requires. What are you waiting for? Get Gardening!

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