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Essential garden tools for beginners and beyond

Peggers
Experienced Contributor

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Getting your hands dirty and transforming your garden can be incredibly enjoyable and rewarding.  

 

Best of all, it’s not difficult to help your garden to flourish, particularly if you have the right tools.  

 

With the help of Bunnings Workshop regulars, we’ve put together a list of the eighteen tools that should be in anyone’s shed if you want to grow a thriving garden.   

 

Secateurs

 

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What it is: Secateurs are the small hand-held pruning clippers used for trimming and cutting. 

 

Why it’s essential: You can use any cutting implement for pruning, but why would you when these are built for the job? They cut easily without too much force, so if you’re working for a long time you aren’t going to get stiff hands.  

 

You said: “Buy the best and most comfortable pair you can afford, because they will make all pruning and cutting jobs a breeze and last you a lifetime. Clean, sharpen and adjust the blades regularly so they cut smoothly and without tearing.” @Noelle  

 

Hand fork

 

What it is: A hand tool used for digging up small weeds and preparing the ground for seeds or small plants. 

 

Why it’s essential: The hand fork allows you to work quickly when you’re working in the garden – with one hand you can turn over the earth and fish out weeds or stones, while planting seeds and cuttings with your other hand. 

 

You said: “A perfect tool for sifting through soil to separate weeds. It’s a must have for removing onion weed bulbs.” @MitchellMc 

 

Trowel

 
What it is: Small handheld spade used for digging, filling small holes, and smoothing them over. 

 

Why it’s essential: It’s the perfect accompaniment to the hand fork, and they’re often sold together as a set. While the fork will loosen soil and help to rid the garden of weeds, the trowel is perfect for digging small holes and then filling them.  

 

You said: “One of the most important pieces of your gardening kit for making holes, running seed furrows and getting under stubborn weeds to lift them out. Paint the handle a bright colour so you don't lose it in the garden.” @Noelle 

 

Gloves

 

What it is: Strong gloves that will protect your hands from thorns and sharp sticks. 

 

Why it’s essential: Even if you’re super careful, the smallest gardening jobs can end up with you cutting or pricking yourself – and you don’t want to risk a cut when you’re working in the dirt. Get some strong, thick gloves and you can grab those branches ready to trim them without fear of injury. 

 

You said: “A must to protect hands from the elements, dirt and damage.” @LisasGarden 

 

Shears

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What it is: Like big scissors, these require both hands, and are used for cutting light growth. 

 

Why it’s essential: Shears are very versatile, despite being a rugged-looking tool. They’re great for sculpting hedges or for hacking back overgrown areas of grass before you get the lawn mower going. 

 

You said: “These tend to be my go-to garden tool. When I suddenly realise things are out of control, ten minutes with the shears buys me time before a proper session in the yard.” @Peggers 

 

Rake

 

What it is: Long wooden handle with a metal comb at the end used for collecting leaves and cuttings. 

 

Why it’s essential: When all the hard work is done – pruning, lawn care, snipping and cutting – there’s usually a lot of waste strewn across the yard. Pull it all together with a decent rake, ready to load into a waste bag. 

 

You said: “Our rake works a treat to spread top soil on the lawn.” @mich1972 

 

Watering can

 

What it is: Handheld water container with spout used for watering seeds and plants. 

 

Why it’s essential: Nothing makes you feel like a proper gardener than watering the plants with a watering can. Why make 10 trips with a kitchen jug, when you can buy an inexpensive large watering can? 

 

You said: “A watering can with a rose head is a must for watering potted plants and seedlings where a hose can’t be used.” @LisasGarden 

 

Hoe

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What it is: Like a small trowel on the end of a long wooden handle, a garden hoe is ideal for cultivating earth ready for planting.

 

Why it’s essential: While the hoe does the same sort of job as a trowel, you don’t want to break your back and your knees if you’re working over a large area of the garden. The hoe allows you to prepare for planting seeds and cuttings while standing upright.  

 

You said: “Our Dutch hoe helps pull out clumps of weeds and dig shallow trenches.” @mich1972 

Garden fork

 
What it is: The big pitchfork is used for breaking up large patches of tough soil. 

 

Why it’s essential: If you’re trying to break up hard and dry soil or turf, this is about the only thing that will cut through it. Dig in and put your foot into it. It can also be handy for aerating soil and lawn.  

 

You said: “Turning over large garden beds is a breeze with a garden fork. It’s also handy for sifting out large rocks from the soil.” @MitchellMc 

 

Shovel

 
What it is: Often used together with the garden fork to dig holes and shovel the earth into piles. 

 

Why it’s essential: If you’re planning on doing anything that requires digging holes or moving large amounts of soil, then you can’t do it without a shovel.  

 

You said: “A quality brand with the correct length handle for the height of the operator will make digging, turning soil over, lifting turf, cutting sharp edges and moving soil and mulch easy and pain-free. Use linseed oil on the handle to minimise splinters, and clean and sharpen the cutting edge of the spade regularly.” @Noelle 

 

Hose

 

What it is: Attached to a garden tap, the long length of hose is used for watering large areas of the garden. 

 

Why it’s essential: While the watering can is great for focusing on small areas that need irrigation (such as recently planted seeds or pot plants) you need a garden hose for bigger areas. Fit a sprinkler attachment to keep your lawn green, or use a trigger attachment for watering garden beds.  

 

You said: “The garden hose lets me get to every part of the garden to water whatever needs watering at the time.” @bergs 

 

Leaf blower

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What it is: Electric or petrol-driven power tool used like a vacuum cleaner in reverse, to blow leaves and cuttings into a pile. 

 

Why it’s essential: If you’re collecting up leaves and garden debris on a tangled or difficult surface like the lawn or flower beds, then a rake does the trick. If you want to clean up flat areas like the driveway, then the leaf blower does it quicker than a broom ever could. Blow away grass cuttings and weeds for the perfect look in minutes.  

 

You said: “Like a versatile magic broom, but potentially messier – practice and patience is needed to get the debris in place. The advantage? It gets debris out of cracks and pits in rough surfaces, which a broom doesn't. You don't need to get the nozzle close to the dirt, as you do with a vacuum cleaner, so you can clean under and behind immovable objects.” @TedBear 

 

Lawn mower

 

What it is: Again, electric or petrol-driven, these are pushed around the garden to create a uniform lawn. 

 

Why it’s essential: If you’ve got a lawn, no matter how small, then you have to have a mower. There is no hand tool that will create the perfect, uniform finish. Shears make a good start, but the mower will get that smooth finish that will have the neighbours looking on with envy.  

 

You said: “My self-propelled lawn mower is the best gardening tool I’ve ever purchased. It’s saved me countless hours of back-breaking work. Its mulching capabilities mean I don’t even need to empty the catcher as the clippings are spread on the lawn for added nutrients.” @MitchellMc

 

Line trimmer

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What it is: A speedy rotating plastic string used to trim the lawn edges or clear overgrowth quickly. 

 

Why it’s essential: When the mower won’t get into those tight corners and leaves a ragged edge, the line trimmer (whipper snipper) finishes the job with ruthless versatility. Great for edging the lawn or clearing out tricky corners of weeds and long grass.  

 

You said: “Whipper snipper – such a handy tool, can use for both cutting grass in areas where the mower won’t reach and also great to use for edging along garden beds.” @prettyliving 

 

Bow saw

 

What it is: A handsaw for the garden that has large teeth, used for hacking branches. 

 

Why it’s essential: You’ve tried the secateurs and they weren’t big enough; you’ve tried the loppers, but they won’t cut through it; it’s time then for the bow saw. 

 

You said: “A quieter alternative to a chain saw for medium to small limbs. (Runs on sweat though). Fast cutting of green, sappy wood, which a normal wood saw can't do. I wouldn't be without one if you have trees and big bushes.” @TedBear 

 

Lopper

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What it is: Essentially secateurs with longer handles, used for pruning hard to reach branches. 

 

Why it’s essential: The lopper is to secateurs, what the hoe is to a trowel – it gives you the advantage of being able to work at a distance. The lopper is most often used for work up high, clipping back branches you can’t reach with secateurs.  

 

You said: “Allows thicker branches to be cut with ease and saves the time you’d spend struggling with secateurs.” @MitchellMc 

 

Wheelbarrow

 
What it is: Two handles, one wheel - like a big bucket that you push to transport soil or garden rubbish. 

 

Why it’s essential: The wheelbarrow is essential if you have a reasonably sized yard. It’s ideal for moving large piles of soil or mulch, and for getting big piles of waste to the bin. It’s also ideal for transporting all of your tools to and from the shed at the beginning and end of a gardening session. And nothing looks better standing in the corner of the garden than a wheelbarrow – it says: “I’m a fully fledged gardener!”  

 

You said: “Great for moving mulch and plants around the garden." @LisasGarden

 

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