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Basic Gardening Essentials: A Guide to the 10 Best Garden Tools and Accessories

Updated on January 15, 2015
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Chazz is an Interior Decorator/Consultant/Retailer, amateur photographer, cook, gardener, handyman, currently restoring 1880 Victorian.

Image used under license from
Image used under license from | Source

My 10 Favorite Basic Garden Tools, Accessories and Essentials: Reviews and Recommendations

Gardening is one of our passions and if you spend as much time in the garden as we do, you really appreciate having the right tools, clothing and other necessities to get the job done safely and enjoyably.

The right tools can not only make gardening chores faster and easier, they are actually a pleasure to use. This page features ten of my favorite garden tools and tells you why they are the ones I reach for .

We have personally used (and use) all of the Basic Garden Tools, Accessories, and Essentials you will find here. Experience, they say, is the best teacher and I hope you learn something useful from mine. I do look forward to learning about your favorite tools and garden gadgets and hope you will share some of your own experiences in the comment section near the bottom of this page.

The Only Garden Hand Tool You Need:

The Roth Japanese Hori Hori Garden Knife

Two years ago I bought a different (and higher priced!) brand Hori Hori and I did not like it at all. My hand tired quickly when using it, the blade scratched far too easily and did not hold its edge, and it was not very good at digging through my heavy clay soil.

I was ready to give up on the Hori Hori when a friend convinced me to try the Japanese Hori Hori Garden Landscaping Digging Tool from Joshua Roth -- and I am very glad I did.

Hori-Hori roughly translates to Diggy-Diggy. The tool was originally designed for bonsai enthusiasts to excavate prized aged stock for their specimens high in the Japanese mountains.

The Roth feels comfortable to use, has good heft, and cuts thorough my heavy soil easily. The thick natural wood handle provides a firm grip. The stainless steel blade has a concave shape that scoops up soil and does a neater job of it than a trowel. The knife does not mess up your mulch with dirt as using a trowel usually does -- Plus the blade does not rust like carbon steel does.

The blade on the Roth Hori Hori Japanese Garden Knife is embedded well into the shaft and extends 6.5 inches from the handle. That's more than a full inch longer than the first one I had. The extra length definitely provides for better leverage and more versatility. (Overall, the knife is 11.75 inches long.)

© 2015 CJS. All Rights Reserved.
© 2015 CJS. All Rights Reserved.

The blade has a serrated edge on one side, as shown above. It is especially handy for sawing through branches and the like. The knife is extremely sharp and can be used to divide irises, hostas and other perennials as well as for weeding, cutting sod and roots (especially useful when planting near large trees and shrubs), and similar chores. If you don't have too much edging to do by hand, this tool works great for that too. The blade is marked so you can measure depth for planting bulbs and distance for proper spacing between plants.

I love that I no longer have to carry a bucket full of tools around the garden -- the Roth Hori Hori Digging Tool is all I need for most garden chores. Plus it comes in a heavy protective sheath with a belt loop and retaining strap. (I would also recommend wearing protective gloves until you get used to handling the tool because the blade is so sharp.) In short, the Joshua Roth Hori Hori multipurpose knife and garden tool is my #1 favorite!

The Best Garden Tool for Digging, Weeding, Planting & More - The Roth Japanese Hori Hori Stainless Steel Multipurpose Garden Knife

NISAKU NJP650 The Original Hori Hori Namibagata Japanese Stainless Steel Weeding Knife, 7.25-Inch Blade
NISAKU NJP650 The Original Hori Hori Namibagata Japanese Stainless Steel Weeding Knife, 7.25-Inch Blade
The Japanese Hori Hori Garden Landscaping Digging Tool is known as "The Swiss Knife for Gardeners." And the one made by Joshua Roth is the best on every score from the way it feels when you hold it to the very sharp edge. Free Shipping makes it an even better buy!


The Hori Hori Knife is Very Sharp.

Take Care When Using It and Be Especially Careful if You Are Gardening With Children or Pets Around

Our Second Favorite Weeding Tool is Safer to Use Around Children & Pets

Although care must always be taken to ensure the safe use of garden tools, this weeder does not have the cutting sharp edges of the hori hori knife and is another good choice. I used this tool to do a lot of weeding before I found the Roth Hori Hori. It works great for most weeds but lacks the versatility of the Japanese knife.

This Weeding Tool is definitely worth considering. It is strong, long, and effective.

Flexrake CLA329 Classic Dandelion Weeder
Flexrake CLA329 Classic Dandelion Weeder
Traditional Style Weeder with a hand-turned oak Handle and leather hanger.

Which Do (or Would) You Prefer?

Which of the above tools would you rather use? Why?

The Right (and Left :-) Gloves for the Job

We never seem to have enough gloves and keep several types on hand (no pun intended) for different purposes.

Top: Mechanix Wear MFF-05-520 Women's FastFit Work Glove;  Bottom: Mechanix Wear MG-05-010 Original Glove for Men
Top: Mechanix Wear MFF-05-520 Women's FastFit Work Glove; Bottom: Mechanix Wear MG-05-010 Original Glove for Men

Mechanix Wear Gloves for Him and Her

Mechanix Wear MFF-05-520 Women's FastFit Work Glove
Anatomically designed to fit and protect female hands. TrekDry material keeps hands cool and dry and stretch panels between fingers and elasticized cuff make for comfort and easy on and off. Available in assorted colors and sizes.

Mechanix Wear MG-05-010 Glove
Developed to protect racecar mechanics from cuts and scrapes, Mechanix gloves fit and protect like a second skin. You can even pick up thin washers (not to mention seeds and weeds). Machine washable gloves are soft like cotton and wear like leather. Available in assorted colors and sizes.

These and other styles are available at

The Absolute Best Rose Gloves - Have More than Just a Cool Name

Bionic Women's Rose Gloves
Bionic Women's Rose Gloves
These gloves do not disappoint. My wife LOVES her Bionic Gloves -- and not just because of or despite the name. They were developed by an Orthopedic hand surgeon and take advantage of and support the natural dexterity of the hand, thereby reducing fatigue and increasing grip strength. They are, by all reports, comfortable, cool and effective, allowing greater mobility and more natural ability while providing protection from the thorniest roses.

Learn More about The Technology Behind Bionic Gloves

Bionic Rose Gloves?

What do you think about Bionic Rose Gloves

See results

For Bigger Jobs Like Planting Trees & Large Shrubs - My Choice is The Seymour Notched Super Shovel Round Point

Seymour S710 48-Inch Long Fiberglass Handle Notched Super Shovel Round Poin
Seymour S710 48-Inch Long Fiberglass Handle Notched Super Shovel Round Poin
As much as I love my Hori-Hori garden knife, there are times when a large shovel is needed. Since our soil is heavy clay and there are a lot of rocks, I needed a shovel that could handle that -- especially after I broke the two I had inherited from my Dad. The Seymour Notched Super Shovel fit the bill -- and is aptly named. Not only does it make digging in our soil possible, it makes it a lot easier than a shovel without the notches -- and it has a cushioned handle that makes it easier to grip and provides protection against blisters.

Our Favorite for Raking Leaves, Smoothing Topsoil or Mulch

And Similar Chores

Barnel Adjustable Width Aluminum Telescoping Handle Steel Head Fan Rake

Even if you have a leaf blower, there are always leaves and debris stuck at the base of some shrubs and other plants, so you need a rake that will reach under that huge rhodie or clean out under your favorite rose.

This lightweight rake has a telescoping handle adjustable from 3 to 6 feet. The super strong CAM-lock design allows for angling of tines 7-1/2" to 22" blade head 35" to 71"and head.

Perfect for both me and my petite partner to reach all those hard-to-get-at nooks and crannies with ease and efficiency.

The Best Bypass Pruning Shears - Outperform and outlast all others

Bypass pruners are one item where it does not pay to skimp on quality to save a few dollars, but buying the most expensive does not guarantee the quality of the tool. We've learned that the hard way. Get the best and you and your plants will thank you. We like these top-rated top-of-the-line Felco pruners for several reasons.

FELCO F-2 068780 Classic Manual Hand Pruner, F 2
FELCO F-2 068780 Classic Manual Hand Pruner, F 2
Top-of-the-line Felco Bypass Pruners come in a variety of sizes and styles, including a pair for left-handed use and one for smaller hands. The high-quality Swiss precision-made hardened steel blade is easily-adjusted with a bolt and nut so you can customize blade alignment. The blade is easy to sharpen but it is also replaceable. Felco Bypass Pruners come with a one-year warranty but will last for years with proper care. We find these the best for accurate clean cuts -- especially important for our prized roses. They do not stick to sappy branches, are gentle on the hands and wrists, and the bright red handles make them easy to find if you drop them.

Waterproof Footwear is a Gardening Essential - Unless you are just a fair weather gardener...

We don't have a favorite to recommend here -- any good waterproof clog or boot will do. I use Muck Boots but my wife prefers Sloggers. It is more a question of finding the best fit and most comfortable pair for you.

These are essential for chores better done after a rain. Weeds, for example, are much easier to dig or pull out when the ground is wet. I also like to wear them for watering -- especially if I am using water from the rain barrel.

The Original MuckBoots Adult Daily Clog
The Original MuckBoots Adult Daily Clog
Great for summer, this very comfortable unisex clog has a breathable, "Airmesh" lining and lined interior that make these the best choice for hot weather. Resistant to salt water and gardening "muck". As the manufacturer says: "they'll keep your toes dry whether you're strolling on the beach or squatting among your squash plants."

Don't Forget Safe UV Protection

Clothing, Hats & Sunscreen

I try to time work in the garden in relation to sun and shade at different times of day. It is cooler to work in the back yard in the morning, when the sun is in the front, and in the front yard later in the afternoon when the house blocks the rays of the sun. But that is not always possible and even if not directly in the sun, you should be cautious and protect your skin from its harmful effects.

I have found that a long sleeve lightweight shirt made of UV-resistant fabric worn by itself or over a tee with jeans or lighter weight pants I reserve for gardening, a wide brimmed hat, and a good pair of sunglasses are essential.

These are the ones we (my gardening partner wife and I) like best:

The Sunday Afternoon Sundancer Hat

In gorgeous colors with a soft silhouette, pleated waterfall neck cape, and ultra-protective 4½” brim, the Sundancer Hat is my wife’s favorite. Designed for comfort, good looks, and optimal UV protection, the Sundancer Hat is perfect for travel, gardening, outdoor activities and the spa. Adjustable for perfect fit with an interior wicking sweatband and chinstrap for windy days. 100% nylon.

Available at Brookstone.

Ventilated Wide-Brimmed Hat

Solid, cotton twill top and a 2 1/2"-3" brim protect the head, face, and neck from sun exposure while mesh sides keep your head cool. Chin strap for windy days. Lightweight and crushable for packing and storage. Made in the U.S. Khaki. For sizes small through extra-large.

Also available for women.

Both from Hammacher Schlemmer

Natural Organic Sunscreen

We garden organically and are very careful about the products we use. That is why we only use All Natural Sunscreens.

All Natural (organic, non-chemical, biodegradable) Sunscreens are available for babies, children or adults in lotions, creams or sticks, full spectrum sunscreens, and more.

There are even organic, all natural sunscreens that also repel insects without harmful ingredients.

I urge you to choose one or more and use them as directed. I have some friends and family members with melanoma and the saddest thing is that it can be prevented in most cases by taking the proper precautions. I wouldn't want that to happen to you.

Lightweight UPF 20 to 50+ Sun Protection Shirts

We have pictured a representative sampling of the many shirts available for sun protection in the garden. Most of these have roll-up sleeves and some are also naturally bug-repellant. Fabrics vary from wicking synthetics to cotton, linen and blends. Styles include fitted to loose, tee, high performance, and button-down. Our favorite place to shop for these is Sierra Trading Post. They have great deals but their huge inventory changes quickly, so your best bet is to click the link and see what they have in stock now in your size. They have so many items you are sure to find the perfect gardening shirt with the amount of UV protection you need.

Visit Sierra Trading Post Now.

Pierre Ronsard Rose
Pierre Ronsard Rose | Source

Learn About Our Victorian Garden

Heirloom Roses, Tulips, Daffodils and More

We have a growing series of pages about our Victorian Garden. The first is a page about rare antique tulips and their intriguing history. Our second article in this series is about heirloom daffodils and other spring bulbs, including crocus, muscari, allium and others.

We also have two pages about roses: One about the heirloom roses we grow in our garden and one about the different classifications of roses.

Plus our latest is about Dramatic Antique Heirloom Bearded Irises.

You Might Also Enjoy

Kids In The Garden: Great Gardening Gifts, Tools & Toys for Kids
You can give the children in your life the tools & inspiration to play in the garden & learn about nature, science, math & more while having fun, being physically active & getting enjoyable exercise.

101 Gardening Secrets Experts Never Tell You
101 Tips, Problem Solvers and Dollar Stretchers for Organic Gardeners: This page divulges 101+ gardening secrets that the pros, retailers and giant chemical corporations don't want you to know.

10 Awesome Easy Care Perennial Plants
Perennial Gardens don't have to be time consuming & difficult. Carefully chosen perennials can provide years of 3-season interest with minimal effort & plenty of time to enjoy other summer activities.

So Glad You Stopped By for a Visit...

Please take a moment to let us know you were here...Share a gardening tip, weigh in on our recommendations, add one or more of your own, or just sign your name.

We'd love to hear from you!


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