Image: David Rangel on Unsplash

Having the right tools really can turn gardening from a chore to a pleasure. So if you fancy putting something gardening-related on your New Year wish-list or are thinking of buying a present for a green-fingered friend, take your pick from these “must have” tools.


This is key for most gardeners – a sharp, good quality pair will make all the difference to pruning and harvesting herbs and flowers. I like Felco, which last a lifetime if you look after them, but thereare many other good varieties. For those with weak hands or arthritis, ratcheting pruners are a great choice. Try to buy quality, keep them clean and dry them if they get wet, so they don’t rust.

Gardening gloves

Protect your hands from mud and thorns with a good pair of gloves. Make sure they fit snuggly, particularly for fiddly jobs like tying in climbers. Bamboo gloves are light and stretchy, as are Showa Floreo. Thermal gardening gloves are cosy for winter and if you’re pruning roses leather is best.

Hand trowel and fork

Whether you have a large garden or a balcony with pots, hand tools such as trowels and forks are probably the most useful tools of all. Trowels are great for shovelling compost, planting and digging holes, while hand forks can be better for digging up or dividing plants, as they’re gentler on roots. Again look out for good quality and, a comfortable wooden handle and a stainless steel blade for durability.


If your lawn gets covered in leaves, it’s worth buying a leaf rake – the ones with large fan shaped plastic heads. They’re inexpensive and a super efficient way of tidying up the lawn. Removing fallen leaves is also important for lawn health as dead leaves block light from grass weakening the root system, as well as attracting pests and encouraging mould to grow. Garden rakes have springy thin metal tines and tend to spike leaves – they’re best for removing mossy thatch in grass in spring and autumn, and general garden debris from under shrubs.

Pruning saw

These lightweight saws are fab for keeping trees or large woody shrubs in check, easily removing larger branches that are too thick for secateurs or loppers. The folding ones that you can carry in your pocket are especially handy.

Digging spade and fork 

A decent long handled spade is useful for digging and planting larger plants and trees. Again try buying a quality spade, with a good strong handle and stainless steel head, which is smoother, easier to garden with and clean, and less susceptible to rust. For digging up established plants, it’s better to use a long handled fork, as they’re more forgiving on roots.

Topiary shears.

These hand shears are great – bigger than secateurs and smaller than regular shears, they make topiary a pleasure.


A hoe is a great time (and back) saver for weeding – especially if you hoe off weeds when they’re small. Hoes with narrower blades are useful for smaller spaces. Other weeding tools includea hand weeder, designed to pull out weeds with tap root such as dandelions . Or you can use The Hori Hori or weeding knife, a combo knife/trowel that cuts, digs and weeds.

This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of SE22 magazine.