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Garden Tools::Ten Must Have Gardening Tools and their uses::Essential garden tools

Updated on November 29, 2011

Every gardener has their own arsenal of tools to put to use when the weather warms and the birds begin to sing, heralding the approach of the growing season. If you poll 100 gardeners you will likely document a wide range of hoes, rakes, tillers and other instruments that have very important and specific purpose. The Mantis tillers as well as other tillers and cultivators are sure to be included in a great quantity of the stable gardener's document as their favorites. In this hub I intend to explain the use of the group of tools I use and how they will aid in your gardening experience.

Everyone's garden tool set will be different, just as the line up of vegetables we love to grow is varied. Perhaps this is an opportunity for us to allow the habits of others to broaden our thoughts. There is a multitude of garden accessories to choose from, but here are some that I find particularly helpful.

The garden tiller

Do not be confused if you also see this referred to as a rototiller or rotary tiller, as it is the same device. The name comes from the way the metal tines rotate to come in contact with the gound you intend to work. Most of the time the name is simply tiller, so be ready to encounter the varied names. The best garden tiller will be proven by you as you experiement and seek the counsel of other tiller manufacturer models.

When beginning to work your garden plot you may need the intervention of a local farmer or another with a large tractor with a plow to break up the ground, especially if you have never had a garden before. Once this is done, you can take the garden tiller to chop the soil into a more manageable form. The tiller can work the soil to a depth of 10-18 inches which is sufficient for any crop you wish to grow.

The tiller will continue to deliver value all through the gardening season as you utilize it to control the weeds between your rows. As rain begins to fall on your crops they will grow, but so will your weeds between them. You can use your tiller to chop the ground between the rows, which will not only take care of the weeds, but keep the soil loose so the water can reach the roots nearby.

The garden cultivator

These jewels may also be referred to as a mini tiller. I may get some feed back and discussion here, but I consider the smaller tiller models more of use as a cultivator than a tiller.  This opinion rests on their primary use as a close quarters power tool that is much easier to handle. These littl guys have much smaller engines while weighing significantly less, which make them easier to handle. Don't let their size fool you though as these tools can do the job they are designed for very well, shredding the weeds around your prized crops with ease.

Mantis tillers are the best known and most recognized due to their massive advertising campaign. The company boasts a full year to try the machine without payment and you can return it during those 365 days if not satisfied. The mantis tiller is a great cultivator, especially for those unable to handle a larger version of the tillers and cultivators.

The row string guide

After many years of trying to make straight rows with just a hoe and my best sight judgment, I realized there was a need for some type of aiding tool. Actually, rather than a tool it is simply an implement. Two sticks at lest 24 inches long with a length of twine at least as long as the length of your intended rows will give you great guidance.

You will need some type of hammer to tap in these sticks at each end of your rows to make sure they stay stationary. Again, through trial and error I learned it is much easier to have the hammers at both ends of the row to shorten the time involved in this process. It is your best bet to measure the width of your tiller tines to set the width of your rows so that the blades do not chop into your crop as it matures. My father took his pocket knife and notched the handle of his hoe as a reliable guide.


This row string guide is just two tobacco sticks with some jute twine.
This row string guide is just two tobacco sticks with some jute twine.
I found this lay off plow at a local flea market for $75 dollars. I prefer it because it is all steel. You can tell by the rust color.
I found this lay off plow at a local flea market for $75 dollars. I prefer it because it is all steel. You can tell by the rust color.

The lay off plow


For years I used a simple garden hoe to make my rows. The problem was that the rows were never as straight as I desired. It is quite obvious when your crops begin to develop and you stand back to admire your work and you see the crooked rows. I tired to make the most of the experience by claiming I was just trying to get more in my rows, but really I wanted a better way to make the rows straight.


Beginning last growing season I started using a lay off plow. This is a device with a big bicycle looking wheel in the front with a small blade mounted on a frame directly behind the wheel. Using the two handles, you balance the plow on the wheel so that the blade comes in contact with the ground. Then, while resting the lay off plow against the row string guide, you will begin pushing the lay off plow forward to make your row. You may need to just push the plow a few feet at a time to make sure you stay close to the string.

The garden hoe


Probably the most common tool used by the majority of gardeners is the simple garden hoe. This tool is usually about four foot long, with a metal blade that is mounted perpendicular to the handle, for use chopping weeds, making a row, or harvesting crops.

The hoe does not have a particularly sharp blade when purchased, but over time and with use the blade can become sharper, making it invaluable.

The garden fork


There are some root crops, such as potatoes and sometimes carrots that will require a little effort to harvest. Depending on your soil as well as the frequency of rain combined with the temperatures your garden receives, the ground can become quite hard. The garden fork will allow you to gently loosen the soil without damaging your crops.

The garden seeder


Make no mistake about it gardening can be a back breaking job. Pulling a hoe through the dirt is work and the thought of bending over after this to drop seeds probably is enough to give pause to the casual gardener. Thankfully, there is an answer to this need, in the form of what is called a garden seeder.


This little device has two small wheels, a seed reservoir, specific disks intended for each type of crop you may choose to plant and an attached chain to pull dirt down around your seeds as you plant.


After you insert the respective disk into the tool, you pour a quantity of seeds into the hopper, set the machine into the row and begin walking toward the opposite end. As you do, the seeds begin dropping out the bottom at a prescribed interval. Then the chain attached to the rear will push a little soil in on top of the seeds to help make sure they are covered properly.

The garden rake

The garden rake is made similar to the hoe with the perpendicular tines that allow you to pull against stubborn roots or collect rocks or clods from your garden. As opposed to a leaf rake, the garden rake has the strength of the metal ends to supply you with the leverage to take care of your task.

This season I am experimenting with a type of composted chicken manure as a natural type of fertilizer. Using a wheelbarrow to move the stuff from my trailer to the garden, I basically dump the manure near my row, and then use the rake to spread the manure evenly over the row.

The rake is also useful when you have harder soils that produce clods that cannot be worked up by your tiller. Some gardens also will produce rocks that work up during the freezing and thawing process of the winter. The rake allows you to pull these rocks to a pile for easy removal.

A bucket


This is another simple device that has multiple uses. The bucket can hold potatoes for planting, fertilizer for easy application and you can use it to pick up those pesky rocks that make it difficult to work your plot. In some cases people will use the buckets to cover tender plants when the threat of frost or a freeze is likely. If you attempt this, be sure to remove the bucket before the sun gets too far into the sky or the heat generated inside will cook your plants.

Round point shovel

There are many styles and sizes of shovels with a myriad of uses in your gardening and lawn care experiences. I use the round pointed shovel to make holes for the larger plants I buy, such as tomatoes to make sure they get enough room to prosper. The round point with usually have an edge that easily cuts into the sod below the reach of the tiller, allowing you to set your root ball deeper into the earth.

Shovels can also come in handy to chop old roots when you have a crop finished growing and you want to harvest and replant another. You can probably recall many times when a shovel was used to pry loose soemthing your poor old back just could not budge.

Tool Tips

One of the most frustrating things is to attempt to work in the garden and not be able to find the particular tool you need. This problem can be remedied by utilizing a tool storage rack or designating a particular area of your equipment storage area for your gardening tools. Proper garden tool storage will not only help you qucikly find the toll you need, but will make your tools last for many years.

You will notice many instances where gardeners trying to save time will store their tillers or other tools near the garden for easy access. Unless there is some type of shelter, this will expose your equipment to the elements, which will surely shorten the life of the tools.

When making your row string guide, be sure to use a type of string with some give to it. This will allow you to pull it tight without the string breaking. Also, since you are unlikely to have perfectly straight edges on your garden plot, allow extra string which can be wound around one or both steps to allow you the flexibility of making the length shorter or longer as needed.


Water hose

 This may seem to be the least important item on the entire page, but actually it can be the one that determines just how successful your garden will be. Seeds and plants require several things to prosper, including warm earth, sunlight and water. You cannot gnerate the first two items, but if mother nature does not cooperate you can augment with water from your spigot.

In order to do this with the least strain on you a good water hose is a great aid. Water hoses come in varying lengths that will allow you to customize the soultion to your watering needs to your specific application. There are many accessories that go along with the water hose to keep it from being an unruly nuisance, including garden hose containers, water hose reels, also some that will be referred to as a garden hose rell that are basically the same thing. A good hose reel will pay for itself in preventing you from having to deal with a tangled mess when you go to use the water hose for your plant nourishment needs.

Other miscellaneous tools

 Although they might be better considered as just other gardening implements, you may also consdier gloves in this list. Some people do not particularly enjoy the feel of the earth, prefeering to insulate themselves from this pleasure I enjoy. Also, if you are handling fertilizer it can be harsh on your skin, particularly if you have a cut which allows the chemical to get to your tender opening.

Some people will also use hand held cultivators which will have a molded handle and usually two or three prongs that can be pulled through the soil to eradicate weeds or just loosen the soil.

There is also carts used to move items around which will cut down on the amnount of walking, especially if your gardening area is away from your storage buildings. This also ensures you will have your tools together when needed.


Tool suppliers online

 As with any type of product these days you can purchase your garden tools online. Now this may not be a great option depending on the size and weight of your desired tool as the shipping cost could be prohibitive. However, in the cases where you cannot find a particular tool you really want to purchase this opens up another option.

Gardenersr supply is a large Internet retailer of garden tools offering a great selection with the standard web oriented ease of shopping, ordering and shipping options. Also check out Lee Valley Tools, Rittenhouse Garden Tools and places like Lowes and Home Depot's online sites if they are not conveniently located to you.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      My partner and i employed to acquire on top of life yet lately We've established a new opposition.

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Virginia

      lm - I am so happy i could give you worthwhile information. i hope you will check out my other gardening themed hubs!

    • profile image

      lovable msx. 

      7 years ago

      tnx a lot for these gardening tool and their uses bcz he help me for my project to past tommorow mwning at 8:00-9:001

      tnx a lot ...........

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      antoinette - You can find good bargains if you search long enough. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • profile image


      8 years ago


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      so nyc wow,cool,yeah...!!!!!:) i wish i hav some..but its to affordable....:D

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      WG - I took a mournful look at my garden just last evening. My tomatoes are almost gone and I have only 4-5 water melons left to pick. I do not like the time of year when the garden is gone. All my tools will retreat to dry areas soon as well.

      Thanks for reading and I hope you visit my tomato themed hubs because there are gobs of pictures.

    • wavegirl22 profile image


      8 years ago from New York, NY

      Great Hub once again. I see like me you take pride in your garden :) SO sad that all my garden tools are going to have to be put away soon for winter:(

      Really love these hubs of yours!

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      Poor you! If I had tried that route on my large garden I might still be digging. There are many options to getting your soil prepared and I will be happy to put together a hub to assist you.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • rust profile image


      8 years ago from East Texas Woods

      I'm planning a pepper garden to go with our vegetable garden next spring. I'll be referring to this article when it comes time to break new soil. That pick axe nearly wore me out last spring. Thanks for posting!

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      At this point, (July 29th) I am mostly using either the hoe or rake, but all the other tools are easily accessible when the need arises.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      8 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Love those garden tools. Just can't get enough. Trouble is using them is work. Haha! Enjoyed your article here and your tips for gardening. Thanks!

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      Wildiris - I am very glad to have a great collections of tools to make gardening easier. It is no fun to do anything that is considered a hobby of it turns into work. Glad you found this helpful.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Dobson excellent hub on garden tools. I wish I owned more of these tools because having the right tool for the job makes the job easier. A great cultivating/weeding tool is the hula hoe.

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      Usually by now I have 3/4 of my garen planted. I have four rows of potatoes, 1 bean and 1 corn row. We get rain almost every day. I cannot wait to get the rest planted.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • profile image

      Apostle Jack 

      8 years ago

      Great hub,i love to garden and paint pictures of

      flowers and such.View my hubs:

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks kotoh for the generous praise. Gardening is such a vital part of my warm weather experience and these tools are the implements I depend on to turn out a great harvest. Some people do not take the time to revel in the beauty just outside their door and are poorer for the act.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • kotoh profile image


      8 years ago from Chicago

      I must say that this is quiet comprehensive gardening tips you have here. Feel like I want to do some gardening after this. It's been long time didn't do these thing. Thanks for sharing though, and keep it up!

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      Everyone's needs are different, but I find this collection to be used quite often in my plot. I agree with you about watching things grow and bloom. Each year I determine myself to hold off the weeds longer and longer. Here is hoping 2010 is the best garden ever.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Habby profile image


      8 years ago from College Station, Texas

      Yay!! I have been learning about gardening for a few years now and have slowly acquired some of the tools you mentioned. It's so fun to see the work of your hands grow and bloom. Thank you for a great hub. I'm bookmarking so I can use it as a checklist. :)

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      Yes, I have found the round point to be quite the handy tool. Thanks for reading the hub and commenting,

    • esatchel profile image


      8 years ago from Kentucky

      This is a fantastic article about garden tools. I'll tell you, we've begun gardening more and have picked up a number of these pieces. I have to say, the round point shovel changed our lives - if you are out there trying to do round tip work with a straight edge shovel, stop immediately and get thee to a hardware store!

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      It seems I can never do anything on a small scale and my garden plot is so large it requires several tools to adequately care for it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. It is nice to know people can find me here.

    • oliversmum profile image


      8 years ago from australia

      Dobson. Hi. What a fabulous hub with great information.

      I do love gardening with a passion, but do not have anywhere near this amount of tools, some of them would be very handy.

      Thank you for sharing this with us. :) :)

    • Dobson profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks "pop"! I enjoy gardening so much that it seems a natural fit as my niche to offer the breadth of my knowledge. The pictures included were made just last evening as my kids and some friends children and I celebrated Earth Day by planting potatoes, beans and corn.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub. There just might be a garden in my future.


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