10 Tools That Could Revolutionize Your Gardening Experience

Table with plants being potted, gardening gloves, shears, and a trowel

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Every gardener has their favorite tool, one that's always close at hand when they're at work. I asked the gardeners I know on Facebook and Twitter what their "must-have" tools were, and found that (like me!) most of them were both particular and passionate about what they liked and disliked in a garden tool.

This list of 10 tools that could revolutionize your gardening experience includes some of their recommendations for great gardening tools and a few of my own "must-haves." A great tool makes gardening so much easier -- and your garden will flourish.

1. Good, Sharp Pruners

Close-up of pruning shears on a wooden table
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This is number one as far as most gardeners are concerned. I know that during gardening season, my trusty Felcos are never far out of reach.

A sturdy, comfortable, sharp pruner will reduce fatigue (if you're doing a lot of pruning, this is important) and keep you safer. In addition to Felco, other quality brands of pruners include Fiskars and Corona.

You may have to try a few different models before you find the one that works best for you, but it's worth it.

2. A Hori Hori

Aside from being kind of fun to say, the hori hori is a really useful gardening tool.

When I asked on Facebook what my fellow gardeners considered to be their "must-have" garden tool, master gardener and garden writer Monica Milla had this to say about the hori hori: "It cuts, it digs, it weeds! Best hand tool EVER!" For those unfamiliar with the hori hori, it's a combo knife/trowel and is available from several different garden tool companies. The video here shows it in action, along with the Fiskars Big Grip Knife.

3. Radius Ergonomic Shovel

This is one of my favorite tools. I got a Radius shovel for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I use it constantly.

The blade of this shovel is sharp and heavy, the handle is made of lightweight fiberglass, and the handle makes it easy to get a grip when digging. The complete Radius line is designed with ergonomics in mind, and has been recommended for gardeners with arthritis.

4. EasyBloom Plant Sensor

This is a handy tool for people who are just getting into gardening, or who are in a new house and are still getting familiar with the garden.

The EasyBloom consists of a stake that you stick into the soil in the area of the garden you want to plant in. You leave the EasyBloom in the garden for a few days, and it will collect data such as the amount of sunlight and moisture that area receives.

Then, you plug the USB drive from the EasyBloom into your computer, and visit the EasyBloom site to get recommendations for what to plant based on the data your EasyBloom collected.

I've seen the EasyBloom in a few catalogs; also available at the EasyBloom site.

5. Cobrahead

The Cobrahead weeder also received a lot of praise among the gardeners I polled for this post. The pointed head and curved shank of this tool make weeding, even removing weeds with long tap roots, much easier.

The Cobrahead is available in a few different garden catalogs, and directly through Cobrahead.

6. Gardening Apron

Woman wearing a gardening apron holding two tomatoes
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If you're like me, you spend a good part of your time in the garden juggling pruners, a trowel, a few packets of seeds, a camera (a garden blogger must) and maybe a cell phone, too.

There is not enough pocket space for everything, and I hate having to wander back-and-forth grabbing tools. If you prefer to have all of your tools at hand, a gardening apron is for you.

If you can get a hold of Gayla Trail's fabulous book, You Grow Girl, she has full instructions for making a sturdy apron. You can also find similar instructions online at Botanical Interests.

7. A Compost Tumbler

I confess to not "getting" the whole compost tumbler thing when I started composting, but then I got one to review, and I see why so many people love them.

If you want to make compost, and you want it quickly, a tumbler is the way to go. It's great to have finished compost in about three weeks instead of couple of months. There are many brands out there, at a wide range of prices. You can also make your own compost tumbler with a trash can or barrel, as shown in the video.

8. An Online Vegetable Garden Planner

If trying to figure out how many pepper plants you can fit in your garden is not your idea of a good time, you might want to take a look at one of the online garden planners available. I like these because it makes it easy to make the most of your gardening space. Some good online planners:

  • Gardener's Supply Company has a free online planning tool based on the Square Foot Gardening method.
  • Renee's Garden Seeds offers plans for short and long-season gardens. There's less flexibility with this, but the plans do give you an idea of how much you can fit in your space, as well as what plants grow well together.
  • Mother Earth News offers a nice garden planner on its website.

However, this planner is subscription-based. You do get to try it for a month for free, and then decide if you want to keep using it or not. I like that you can get monthly emails based on your zone to tell you what to plant.

9. Self-Watering Container

Whether you buy an EarthBox or a similar product or make your own self-watering container, it will make your gardening life a lot simpler.

Self-watering containers are perfect for those of us who forget to water. You simply keep the reservoir topped up and your soil will stay perfectly, evenly moist.

10. A Journal

Woman taking notes in her garden
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Whether you keep a paper journal or maintain a blog about your garden, some kind of journal is important to help you keep track of your garden's progress.

You can keep track of when you planted what, your successes and failures, and variety names of veggies you particularly liked. It's also a great idea to keep track of things like crop rotation and companion planting.

I keep a journal because I know that I won't remember everything from year-to-year, and to keep a written and visual record of how my garden progresses. After a couple seasons of keeping records in your garden, you'll have a better sense of what grows best there, which will make you a more successful gardener.