8 Best Garden Hand Tools

8 Best Garden Hand Tools

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Tyler C Rich
August 11, 2021
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It’s almost spring and time to take care of the garden.

First, pull out your gardening gloves because it’s time to get dirty! But, before you start, you need the proper hand tools to get the job done!

Choosing the best garden hand tools makes your work easier by focusing on the actual work you’ll be doing. Pick the correct hand toolset for every task to make the work more convenient.

In this article, you’ll find the eight best garden hand tools you need for each gardening task.

1. Trowel

Trowel

The trowel is commonly known as the mini shovel.

This garden hand tool is a must-have item for every serious gardener. You can use a trowel for digging, move small amounts of topsoil, weeding, or smoothing specific garden areas.

A trowel works best for planting, mixing fertilizer, or weeding the garden. It offers flexibility and simplicity when digging. Using it is straightforward–just hold the handle with your dominant hand and use the pointed scoop to dig out weeds or a hole for planting.

For proper use of the trowel for planting, follow these steps:

  • First, insert the pointed tip of the scoop into soft soil.
  • Apply pressure on the handle and push the trowel’s point into the ground. Ensure that the bottom end is deep in the soil.
  • Press the top of the handle to lever soil out.
  • Lift the trowel out of the ground and place the pile of soil next to the hole you are digging.
  • Repeat the process until you achieve the hole size that you want.

A hand fork does almost the same work as a trowel. However, it does not do a thorough job when mixing fertilizer. So, it is always advisable to choose the best garden hand tools for the job to get the results that you want as quickly as possible.

2. Hoe

Hoe

A hoe garden hand tool is a mini hand-held sharp hoe for planting and weeding.

A hoe is a primary tool when you want to do some planting, light digging, and weeding your garden. It has one sharp-pointed edge and another relatively flat edge.

A hand plow hoe is the best choice for gardening. To effectively use a hoe, ensure that there are no rocks where you’re digging. Then, hold it with your dominant hand and dig, plow, transplant, or weed the garden. Use the working part of the hoe to remove soil without injuring the roots of your plants.

Ensure that you apply the right amount of pressure to the task. Light pressure works best when weeding, but you will need to use more force when digging. Be cautious not to dig out healthy grass or plants when weeding.

An alternative to a hoe is the trowel. However, you may not achieve the desired result with a trowel as using a garden hand tool like the hoe for the types of tasks mentioned. In addition, digging with a trowel may require extra effort and energy. You can also use a rake to plow, but the gaps in the forks may limit efficiency.

3. Cultivator

Cultivator

A cultivator is a handy tool for loosening soil and is similar to a fork. A good cultivator does a great job, especially if you have a nursery.

You can remove fallen leaves, break large soil particles, and weed around your plants using this garden hand tool.

Proper use of this garden hand tool guarantees impressive results. First things first, create sowing lines!

If you are working on a small area, drag the cultivator in a straight line along the garden bed to create lines–adhere to proper spacing for whatever you want to plant.

While holding the cultivator with your dominant hand, drag it across the top of the soil to loosen it while applying light pressure.

Do this along the sowing lines you make to break up soil clods and dig out any small rocks in the soil to prepare the area for planting.

Use the same approach when cleaning the garden. Rake the soil surface using the cultivator to clear unwanted debris away that impacts plant growth.

For weeding, first, ensure that you locate the roots using the ends of the cultivator before giving it a good tug to uproot them. Be careful not to damage the roots of your plants when you apply excess pressure. Repeat until happy with the results.

The alternative to a cultivator is to use a regular rake, but the large surface of a rake may hinder efficiency and precision when working in a nursery.

4. Hand Tiller

Hand Tiller

The hand tiller is another must-have garden hand tool when dealing with small garden areas.

It is a combination of a cultivator and a hoe, all-in-one! The hand tiller has a steel fork and blade, which serve the purpose of a cultivator and a hoe. You can use this garden hand tool for tilling, weeding, or cleaning the garden.

With this garden hand tool, you can work on the entire garden without needing many other devices.

A hand tiller enables you to plant, plow, smooth, and weed the garden. Convenient features such as a stainless-steel fork, rust-proof hoe, and a rubber handle make this tool essential for all garden work.

This best garden hand tool offers reliability and convenience because it is helpful for multiple gardening tasks. It is simple to use by holding it with your hand and digging.

You can choose to use the fork side around vulnerable plant roots for weeding, or you can use the hoe side for more challenging tasks.

Clean the soil using the fork side by dragging unwanted material away from the plant. Be careful when using this hand tool in rocky areas, as this will damage the blade’s sharpness. Also, don’t use excessive force when digging near plants to avoid damaging their roots.

An alternative to this tool is a cultivator. However, the cultivator is not as effective as it does not have as many features, and its fork is only suitable for weeding and cleaning garden beds.

You also need a hoe for tilling, so it is better to stick to the hand tiller for specific jobs rather than using two garden hand tools, depending on the work you want to perform.

5. Lawn Rake

Lawn Rake

Working on a larger garden requires a bigger garden hand tool to make the work easier. When you need to remove dead grass, scarify the garden, or do any de-thatching, a lawn rake is the best tool for these jobs.

A telescopic lawn rake is the best choice to make a large piece of work appear less cumbersome. In addition, its narrow spaces between the tines improve the efficiency and performance of the tool and the task when clearing the garden.

You can rake leaves, clean up the lawn and garden debris with minimal damage when using this garden hand tool.

If you are scarifying the garden, ensure that you carefully dig the rake’s lines into the moss or thatch and then pull the contents towards you.

Pull the thatch or moss to the surface by lifting this tool at the end of a stroke. Exercise caution and be gentle so as not to damage the healthy plants or grass.

For better results, work in one direction and go over a single area several times. After completing work in one place, consider changing the direction and using a different angle to rake the same area. Doing this uncovers more debris, loosens the soil, and creates a neat result.

An alternative tool to the lawn rake is the fork, although it has wider gaps and fewer tines. While it’ll get the job done, it won’t give you as clean and efficient a job as a lawn rake.

6. Shears

Shears

Harvesting herbs, greens, or pruning in the garden demands a good pair of shears.

One mistake most gardeners make is using their fingers to cut spinach or kale during a harvest. When you use your hands, you can easily damage the plant’s stem, causing it to wither.

A good pair of shears do a perfect job by sniping the greens and cutting evenly without injuring the plant. Use non-stick shears for pruning or harvesting for the best outcome.

Shears are relatively easy to use. First, hold the clamps with your dominant hand and use the other hand to hold the part of the plant you want to snip. Then, gently press the clamps together to cut the part you want with precision. Most shears have release springs that open the blade after a cut to reduce fatigue.

I recommend non-stick shears to avoid damaging the plant’s stem tissue when cutting and snipping to prevent jamming.

In addition, non-stick shears give you clean and healthy cuts even in tight spaces. Also, consider using a shear with comfortable handles to avoid injuring your hands, especially when working in a large garden.

An alternative tool for shear is a pair of scissors. They basically perform the same action, but scissors do not always have the ergonomic features you need for gardening and can promote fatigue.

Scissors also tend to be sticky and may jam, so a sharp shear garden hand tool will save you a lot of this kind of trouble.

7. Weeding/Harvesting Knife

weeding knife

A cutting knife is among the most essential tools to have in a garden. A cutting knife in terms of gardening hand tools helps perform various functions such as weeding, field trimming, and harvesting.

Harvesting fruits and cutting flowers is simpler when you use a knife. These garden hand tools come in different forms. Some are foldable, others straight, while others are curved.

Imagine if you want to remove some weeds growing in your paving, then a patio knife will do the work. It’s designed to fit into tight spaces where you cannot use a regular hoe or towel.

You can also use a budding knife to clear any hanging pieces of bark left after cutting a branch. Next, use the knife to cut strips of hanging bark and ensure you apply light pressure in a slicing motion away from you to avoid cutting yourself accidentally.

Before you start using this garden hand tool, you should first learn how to use it safely. Ensure that you always cut in a motion away from your body to prevent injury.

For example, when cutting a plant stem, hold the plant firmly, applying appropriate tension, and cut using a swift, slicing motion.

If you are weeding the paving, stick the sharp part of your patio knife deep into the area to reach the roots of the weeds. Do not use a sawing motion as you may harm yourself or damage the blade.

Instead, use a steady slicing motion while trying to focus on removing the weed roots.

You can use a shear or scissors as an alternative to this garden hand tool. However, some plants may be a bit tough to cut with these tools. Besides, weeding tight spaces like between paving is difficult with a shear.

8. Garden Trake

Garden Trake

A garden trake is a combination of a rake and trowel and is the ultimate tool for efficiency and performance for most of your gardening work.

A trake is your best companion for your gardening work. Whether you want to plant some flowers, weed the garden, or cultivate the nursery, it’s the best choice.

Acquiring a garden hand tool is one thing, and knowing how to use it effectively is another. However, using the trake is not rocket science.

You can use it to plant some flowers, for example, or plow a garden bed. You can also mix fertilizer using the trowel part of this garden hand tool.

Using a trake for weeding and cleaning the garden is so much easier than using tools that are not designed for this type of work.

You can also use the trake to loosen soil or remove leaves from garden beds or planters. Loosening the dirt in the area helps aerate the soil and increases the penetration of water to the roots of the plants.

Simply put, a trake is the best garden hand tool for someone who enjoys value for money. To achieve a desirable outcome, do not use excessive force when weeding the garden with a take.

You’ll achieve better results by concentrating on one area and repeating the weeding process several times. Ensure that you always go for the roots when weeding.

Use this garden hand tool with caution as the tines can easily cause harm!

There are many alternative tools to the trake. You can use a hoe, cultivator, or a trowel, but this means that you’ll have to purchase each individual tool, which may be costly. A quality trake simplifies work in the garden, eliminating the need to carry multiple, bulky tools.

Conclusion

While you can acquire as many garden hand tools as you wish, consider choosing tools that save you money.

For example, multipurpose tools such as the trake and hand tiller make your work easier while saving a few bucks.

Bottom line! Go for garden hand tools that best meet your needs. There are many jobs to do in the garden, and having the right tool simplifies the work.

Always exercise safety by wearing the best gardening gloves when gardening. Wearing safety glasses, sunscreen, and a hat will also protect you from harm.

However, gardening gloves protect your hands from blisters and other possible injuries when gardening. Therefore, using garden hand tools correctly is vital to prevent injury and protect your precious plants. 

Tyler C Rich

Tyler C Rich is the founder and chief editor at TopsyGardening.com. An experienced gardener and a professionally trained agriculture development expert, Rich has worked in the gardening and landscaping industry for more than a few decades. Although he has retired, his spark for developing the best urban and indoor gardens has not faded a bit. He uses TopsyGardening.com as a platform to come across enthusiastic gardeners and share the unique insights he has acquired through years of experience. Rich is interested in aquaponics and technology apart from conventional gardening techniques.