Essential Tools and Equipment for Your Permaculture Garden

When you choose the right tools and equipment, you will not need to buy or source many items at all.

various used gardening tools in blue wooden box outside a green garden

Treehugger / Nadia Hassani

If you are new to permaculture gardening then you may be wondering which tools and equipment you need. Based on my professional opinion, the simple answer is that you may need far less than you imagine. Less is more in a permaculture garden, and when you choose the right tools and equipment, you will not need to buy or source many items at all. 

To get started, a few simple garden tools should equip you for all the tasks you regularly need to undertake. These are what I consider to be the essentials. That said, a few other pieces of equipment might be a good idea and could make your life a little easier.

Read on for some suggestions from my own garden experience to help you make the right choices for your own new permaculture garden.

Simple Garden Tools for a Permaculture Garden

First things first, you will need some simple garden tools. Even in a no-dig permaculture garden, there will be times when you require a spade. Whether it is for undertaking earthworks to manage water on your property, to dig planting holes for the trees for a forest garden or fruit trees and guilds, or to move compost/ manure, etc. from point A to point B. 

A garden fork can also come in handy. While some advocate using a fork to break up compacted soil, this is not something I do. However, I do use a garden fork to turn compost, and in managing other organic materials. 

A hoe is also a good idea in a permaculture garden. In my organic garden, I embrace beneficial weeds in many settings. But a hoe can be helpful for chopping and dropping weeds and dynamic accumulators and allowing them to remain on the soil surface to return their nutrients to the system. Choose the right hoe and it can also be useful in cultivation. 

Loppers and secateurs are other key tools for pruning and management in a forest garden or other permaculture growing area. And once a system becomes more established, a pruning saw may also be required. 

Where there is a meadow or grassland, which is not managed by livestock, a scythe can also be an excellent investment. This low-tech alternative to a lawnmower can be a far more eco-friendly choice. And need not take a lot more time once you become used to the technique. 

A wheelbarrow or hand cart is another essential for moving materials and other things around your space. And simple buckets and baskets also always come in handy.

Some tips for choosing simple garden tools for a permaculture garden based on my experiences:

  • Choose high-quality tools which are built to last.
  • Opt for tools with wooden rather than plastic or composite handles.
  • Buy or source second hand rather than buying new where possible. 

Top Equipment for Permaculture Gardeners

If I was to recommend just one piece of equipment to invest in beyond these simple garden tools then it would be a garden chipper or shredder to break down biomass from the garden and manage woody material over time. Being able to make your own wood chip can be incredibly useful. It can help you establish your permaculture garden, and make sure that it is a closed-loop system over time. 

From my own experience, in my forest garden, I would also highly recommend thinking about equipment to make the harvest easier. If you have more than a few fruit trees, consider investing in an extendable fruit picker, a manual crusher, and perhaps a fruit press. These pieces of equipment certainly come in very handy on our own property. 

Unless you have a much larger property, a permaculture gardener will usually not require much more than the above to get started. Of course, you may discover that there are other tools and other pieces of equipment which will be useful over time. But starting off with the above should be a good place to begin. Less is more, and many of the things you need can be sourced from nature around you or can be made using reclaimed materials. 

The key is to choose carefully and to consider that every item you bring into your space should have as many functions as possible. Small and slow solutions mean that there is not often the need to rely on larger, powered pieces of equipment. In a smaller permaculture garden, creating a resilient and abundant space should involve small and slow solutions, and does not need—either literally or metaphorically—to cost the Earth.