garden hand tools

The 29 Best basic Garden Hand Tools you should have

Maintaining a beautiful garden and other outdoor living areas is a lot of work. Before starting a task in your garden or lawn it is important to have everything you need to complete it. When it is time to do gardening activities, finding the best garden hand tools is at the top of every homeowner’s or professional gardener’s list. The best hand tools will not only help you to finish your gardening tasks quicker but also they will last longer.

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There is no shortage of garden hand tools to choose from, which can make your gardening responsibilities seem overwhelming. Don’t worry though, because we have found the best manual garden tool categories to make your job easier. In addition, for almost each category we have a specialized guide where you can find a lot more information.

Having these essential hand tools for gardening in your garden tool shed or outdoor storage cabinet will make your work in the garden and patio areas much easier.

Table of Contents

What are garden hand tools

A garden hand tool is any tool for gardening that is powered by hand rather than a motor. Humans have been using hand tools for various gardening and agricultural jobs for thousands of years. In the past, the construction materials and design of these tools made them difficult to use for lots of people. However, in recent times, the development of metalworking has resulted in a lot of improvement in these hand tools. The best hand tools for gardening you will find nowadays are lighter in weight, stronger and more durable than their predecessors.


Garden hand tools uses

A garden hand tool is one of the most essential tools that you should always have in your garden tool shed. From pruning small trees and shrubs to dig up soil and remove weeds, hand tools for gardening play many important roles. Some of them have specialized uses, while others can be used for many different garden tasks.


Why use garden hand tools

One of the downsides of having a healthy and gorgeous garden is that you have to maintain it. Between picking up leaves in your patio area and digging holes in your garden to plant beautiful mountain laurels or begonias, your body goes through a lot – especially physically. Depending on the size of your garden, lawn and patio areas the maintenance work can take hours and hours. You can use outdoor power tools to get the job done faster.

If for some reason you want to avoid gardening then this article is not meant for you. Close this page and go hire a gardener or acquire the services of a garden care or landscaping company. However, we suggest reading below about the benefits of gardening before you leave.

Garden hand tools vs outdoor power tools

  1. Hand tools are quieter. Power tools are motorized noisy tools. They are louder because of their high rpm motors.
  2. Moreover, outdoor power tools are more expensive and have more maintenance costs.
  3. If portability of your tools is important to you, you will find the hand tools to be essential. Unless the power tool is battery powered you will need electrical outlets near you or to use gas.
  4. Typically, gas powered outdoor tools are heavier and more bulky than their electrical powered counterparts. Moreover, you might hate the smell of gas. However, even the tools that use electric power are heavier than hand tools.
  5. Although, a power tool finishes a gardening job a lot faster, you can’t use it in narrow spaces.
  6. Outdoor power tools are more complex than hand tools. Hand tools are more suitable for home hobbyists rather than professionals. However, many professionals use garden hand tools because they are more accurate.
  7. You can’t use power tools in the rain.
  8. Power tools are large and occupy a lot more storage space than the manual tools.
  9. Overall, garden hand tools are safer to use.

Benefits of gardening

  • Gardening is a spiritual healing process. You come in direct touch with nature. This might reduce stress.
  • You get the necessary daily amounts of vitamin D which are vital to your mental and physical health.
  • In addition, it is a free exercise for your body. Whether you use power or hand tools, you are forced to do anaerobic exercise when you take care of your garden.
  • If gardening involves growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs then you get first class ingredients for your tasty food. For example, one of our editors grows his own lemons, oranges, pomegranates, almonds, olives, oregano, mint, daphne (bay laurel) and rosemary.
garden hand tools
A few basic garden hand tools: A shovel, a garden fork and a garden rake.

The basic Garden Hand Tools

With so many different types of hand tools for the garden, choosing the right one for your needs can be a real challenge. Although most of the considerations you have to make when choosing a garden hand tool are personal preferences, there are several important things you need to check before picking your tools.

When picking the best garden tool, it’s important to first identify what you need most from it. For this reason we have compiled a list of the hand tools that every gardener needs. Also, for almost every one of them we made a special guide where you can find more information. We hope you find the guides useful.

1. Pruning Shears (Hand Pruners)

If you are familiar with gardening hand tools, you probably know hand pruners. Pruning Shears are the most well-known gardening tools. They are among the indispensable tools to use in your garden. Whenever you need to cut plants, you will have to use a hand pruner. They are one-handed tools and have short handles. There are three basic types of hand pruners: bypass pruners, anvil pruners, and ratchet pruners. You can use them to cut woody branches or thin green stems, depending on the type of pruning shears. We made a guide to help you choose the best pruning shears for you.


2. Garden Scissors

When you get a haircut you want it to be perfect. The same applies to your plants. With gardening scissors you can make precise, clean, healthy cuts to the green parts of flowers, herbs, vegetables, and other plants easily and quickly. There are several brands, blade types, and blade materials to choose from. While plant cutting scissors can make any flower or plant type look great, there are some blade types that are best for certain uses. Understanding what will work best for your plants can help you choose a brand and blade that will compliment your garden flora. Get informed about the scissors for plants, the best types of their blades and more.


3. Hedge Clippers (Hedge Shears)

Hedge shears or hedge clippers are gardening hand tools that can help you give shapes to plants that have dense foliage. In addition, you can use them to trim thin branches of small trees, bushes, boxwood, hedges, topiary and other plants. The hedge shears have long sharp blades that enable them to cut multiple stems at once and trim borders quicker than other garden shears. There are two main types of these great garden tools. Fortunately for you, we published a guide about the hedge clippers that will help you decide which type is perfect for you.


4. Loppers

If you are lucky enough to have a garden or yard with large shrubs and trees, then the lopper is an essential garden hand tool that you‘ll just fall in love with. Also called lopping pruning shears, the loppers are the big brothers of the pruning shears. In fact, they are pruning shears with longer handles and larger cutting heads. These long-handled pruners are operated with two hands; unlike their smaller versions. We prepared a special article about garden loppers, so that you can learn much more about them.


5. Pruning Saws

Pruning saw is a handsaw used to cut branches from large shrubs and trees more than 1.5 inches thick. A reliable, affordable hand pruning saw, that does not bend when cutting, cuts through like butter and makes nice smooth clean cuts is the perfect tool for every outdoor enthusiast, arborist, amateur or professional gardener. There are straight, curved, folded pruning saws or folding saws for every wallet size and every purpose (garden saws, trimming saws, hand saws for trees etc.). When it comes to the cream of the crop there’s no need to check for reviews etc. The Samurai brand makes the best amazing hand saws and pruning saws.


6. Garden Axes

Axe is a one-handed or two-handed tool with a wooden, steel or fiberglass handle and a heavy metal blade. You will need one or two of these useful splitting and chopping tools if there is a fire pit in your house or patio areas, or if there are many trees in your garden. You can use these garden hand tools to chop or split wood, cut down trees, etc. These axes come in all shapes and sizes. Find out more about the axes for your garden or yard and their most useful types.


7. Gardening Machetes – Are they appropriate as hand tools for gardening?

Gardening machetes are literally weapons. These weapons will help you fight the huge weeds that you forgot to remove. Typically, there are four notable types of machetes that you can use in your garden or yard: Billhooks, kukri machetes, brush axes or ditch bank blades and bush machetes. You can remove suckers, strip the side shoots from a branch, clear brush and undergrowth and chop your compost to bits with these garden tools. Discover more about these amazing types of machetes for gardening.


8. Garden Hoes

The garden hoe tool is more of an agricultural tool than a gardening hand tool and it’s used for weeding, digging and tiling. Most hoes are garden hand tools consisting of either a wide or narrow blade or a pointed head fixed perpendicular to a long or a small handle. There are dozens and dozens of different garden hoes. They have advantages or disadvantages depending on their intended usage, the soil type and the weeds size mostly. Learn more about these hoe types, the things you have to consider before buying a garden hoe and their maintenance.


9. Rakes

The rake tool is a garden tool that usually consists of a head and a handle. Rakes are widely used for spreading, smoothing and leveling soil, removing debris, raking small rocks and sweeping leaves in garden, lawn and patio areas. Generally, there are many different types of rakes. Usually these types differ in head size and functionality.

The most useful basic garden rake types are the simple classic rake (garden rake), leaf rake, thatch rake or dethatching rake and hand rake. In addition, there are more rake types for garden tasks which have special purposes. We published a comprehensive guide where you can discover more about these rake types.


10. Garden Pitchforks

Do you have a garden and are looking to lift and move thin and long fallen tree and shrub branches? Are you an owner of a small farm and looking for an inexpensive way to aerate and break up soil? The pitchforks and forks for the garden are great gardening hand tools to have. For gardening tasks there is the basic type of pitchfork called the Garden Fork, but there are several different types of pitchforks that can be useful. Get more info about the garden forks and discover more garden pitchfork types.


11. Manual Weed Wackers or Manual Weeders

Before clearing and uprooting weeds with a generic garden tool, a smart way to get them out of the soil is to use a manual weeder tool. These great gardening hand tools are specialized tools for weeding. There are many different types of manual weed wackers which you should check.


12. Garden Picks – Two in one garden hand tools

When considering doing some light digging, gardening picks like the pickaxe and mattock may seem a bit bulky and heavy, but when it comes to hard ground, rocky and compacted soil, no other garden tool in your shed is better. High quality mattocks and pickaxes can break ground, rough terrain, rocks and stones, remove boulders and cut through roots. Pick axes and mattock tools are slightly different and have different uses so we made a useful guide about these versatile gardening picks.


13. Spades

Spade is a garden tool with a flat metal blade and a long or short handle, used for “spading”: digging and breaking earth. The garden spade tool is pushed into the soil with the aid of a foot. For this reason its blade features a flat back. It may look like a shovel but it’s not a shovel. You can use the garden spade like a shovel to move small amounts of soil, dirt etc., but you shouldn’t because ergonomically it is not as efficient as the gardening shovel. The most common type of the spade tool is the drain spade, often called the sharp shooter.


14. Shovels

The shovel is a basic tool for any garden. It’s a tool like a spade with a broad blade with curved edges attached to a long handle. The shovel garden tool looks like a big spoon and is mainly used for… shoveling: moving earth, snow, gravel, sand, etc. efficiently and mixing materials quickly. There are many different types of garden shovels. The common types of shovels used to be the transfer shovel and the snow shovel. These days there are many types of the ”spade shovel” style like the digging shovel, the sharp shooter shovel, the trenching shovel and the edging shovel.


15. Garden Trowels

Garden trowels are like hand shovels or spades for gardening. Especially suitable for planting seeds in the garden, these hand tools for gardening can also be used to dig holes at shallow depths. Additionally, you can use them to refill the holes with soil, compost, manure or gravel. These mini shovels are the ideal comfy tools for piercing through the earth with ease, digging around the roots.

In addition, they can cut roots that are close to the surface, remove weeds, and scoop small amounts of soil. The garden trowels are indispensable hand tools for garden enthusiasts and professional gardeners alike. We have prepared a buyer’s guide about gardening trowels with important factors for you to consider before making a final purchase.


16. Bulb Planters

When a spade or digging shovel makes the hole too wide and sometimes not deep enough for bulbs, the bulb planter tool comes to the rescue and digs the perfect depth. Bulb Planters are garden tools designed to cut through and dig up soil for planting or transplanting bulbs or flowers such as tulips, daffodils, lilies, onions and dahlias.

There are two versions of the bulb planting tool, but both have a strong cylindrical steel head with a sharp notch, which can easily penetrate the ground, a depth marker and a wide handle. Both are not meant for digging in dry, too compacted soil or frozen ground. A short bulb planter is a lightweight and portable hand-held Bulb Planter. A long handle bulb planter tool is a longer and more convenient Bulb Planter that allows you to work from a comfortable, standing position.


17. Hand Tillers & Hand Cultivators

Do you plan to plant? The best time for planting is when Spring comes. The problem is that the soil is dry and packed together at that time and it needs some work before planting. The hand tillers and hand cultivators are some of the specialized gardening hand tools for this tough job. If you have to cultivate then you should consider buying one. Discover more about hand tillers and cultivators in our useful guide.


18. Manual Lawn Mowers

Manual lawn mowers are reel mowers. This means that they have a horizontal cylinder with blades and a stationary blade. They cut grass like scissors. The manual lawnmowers are completely manual tools. They offer you the mobility to work anywhere on your lawn. Unlike motorized reel mowers, they are incredibly easy to use and maintain. Also, these manual grass cutters are not loud when you use them and they do not require a power source. However, you should not consider them so eco-friendly, because most of them are built or have parts made in the country which is responsible for 30%+ of global gas emissions.

Even so, if we had to buy a new lawn mower then it would probably be a manual one. Some of them are manual lawn mowers with bag or feature a grass catcher which is very convenient. Generally, they are good tools for manual grass cutting on a budget.


19. Manual Lawn Aerators

If you plan to have a healthy lawn then you will have to find an easy way to aerate it, because its soil becomes compacted very fast. You do not have to spend a fortune to aerate your lawn. Manual aerators for lawn like the lawn core aerator, aerator shoes and other spike aerators are affordable and able to accomplish this task. Find out more about these cost effective manual lawn aerator types in this post.


20. Manual Edgers (Manual Lawn Edgers)

Believe it or not, there’s even a garden hand tool specialized for forming distinct boundaries between a lawn and a garden, patio, or other ground cover areas. You can use them to create borders, edge sidewalks and make crisp edges to the edge of your lawn. It is called a hand edger or manual edger. Learn more about manual lawn edgers now.


21. Grass Shears & Grass Clippers

When a lawn mower, string trimmer or lawn edger doesn’t cut it, go to grass shears. Finding the best grass shears type for cutting grass and lawn trimming is a task that gains substantial significance every Spring. Hopefully, we identified the best for your lawn, so please take a look at the best grass shears types that will benefit your yard.


22. Post Hole Diggers & Manual Augers

Digging a hole to install a fence post, a tree or a patio post requires specific hand tools to deliver exceptional results. Thankfully, there are some digging tools for this job. Post hole diggers or posthole diggers, as the name implies, are garden hand tools for digging post holes. These holes are deep and straight. Generally, Post Hole Diggers are used to dig holes in the ground for projects like fence posts or supports in your garden, yard or patio areas. Additionally, you can use them to dig holes to plant small trees and other plants that require a deep hole.

There are two types of Post Hole Diggers, the clam-type which is the most common Post hole digger and the Auger type (manual auger post hole diggers). You can find many different styles of the first type. The manual post hole auger type comes in two common styles. The spiral head style has limited use since it only works well in dry sandy or loose soils. The other one has a lot more uses.
You can learn about both types in our extensive guide about the post hole diggers.


23. Digging Bars

Digging Bars are straight heavy metal bars used for digging, loosening soil and rocks, breaking up rocky, rooty or heavy compacted soil and tamping. They may also be used for light levering and prying, although only for smaller loads. The Digging bars are designed for digging not prying. For prying, moving rocks and levering large and heavy objects there are other hand tools such as crowbars or pry bars. For compaction of spot areas, a heavy Digging Bar with a flat end (tamper) is a better solution than a Hand Tamper. There are two common digger bar types: The Tamping bar and the San Angelo Bar.
Learn more about Digging bars, their uses and much more.


24. Hand Tampers

During some garden or other outdoor living space tasks, a need arises to pack down gravel, soil, dirt or other loose materials. There is a garden hand tool for this job, called the Hand Tamper. It is a great tool to have if you require one. On the flip side, it is almost useless if you do not have to compact the surface layer of the soil. Find out more information about this garden hand tool like its types and uses, how to use the Hand Tamper, and it’s maintenance in: “Hand Tampers – What are they and how do they work”.Our recommendation:


25. Bonsai Tools

For the bonsai tree gardeners there is nothing worse than their tree looking less than healthy. One of the common mistakes that people make is that they use generic gardening tools to take care of their bonsai trees. If you are in such a situation, we have good news for you. With the help of quality bonsai tools, it is possible to get your mood back.

When you have a bonsai tree, you want the best bonsai tools you can buy. Whether you are shopping for your first bonsai tool or you’re hoping to upgrade your current bonsai tool arsenal, there’s an option on the market that will meet your needs. We made a guide about the best types of bonsai tools that will help you maintain a healthy tree or make a new gorgeous one.


26. Soil Test Kits

The traditional way to test the soil is to taste, literally,  the soil to determine its acidity (pH level). Another classic way is to observe various weed types that indicate the soil’s pH levels and nutrient composition (calcium, potash, phosphorus etc.). But, since there are many inexpensive Soil test kits on the market like soil testers, you don’t have to continue eating dirt.

Most soil test kits are Soil testers like soil pH meters, soil moisture meters, pH testers and light meters for plants. Some of the soil testers are multi-function Soil Test Kits that can measure the soil’s acidity (pH measurement), soil’s temperature, water level (moisture), and sunlight levels for plants. In addition, some soil test kits include a thermometer and hygrometer to monitor environment temperature and measure humidity. Also, there are some specialized soil test kits that can measure pH and primary nutrients N-P-K: Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potash (Kalium).


27. Garden Twine & Twist Ties

When it comes to securing and training plants, vines, and vegetables without damage to support stakes, cages or trellises, Garden Twist Ties, Garden Twine, Garden Tie tape, Plant tie, and Tree Wrap are the necessary garden tools to look for.


28. Garden Tool Sets

The best tool for a beginner gardener is, actually, a Garden tool set: many garden hand tools!
The Garden tool sets usually come with a handy storage bag, organizer case or a carrying tote bag. Additionally, they contain many other useful items for gardening like gardening gloves, kneeling pad and spray bottle.


29. Gardening Gloves

Garden gloves provide a simple and effective protection that prevents injuries and scratches. Gardening gloves are not garden hand tools per se, but they are essential for every gardening task. They help you with gardening tasks such as pruning plants with thorns or shrubs as they provide protection when handling cutting tools like hand pruners, loppers, grass shears or hedge shears. Leather gloves should be worn for safety when using garden hand tools for gardening jobs.

The gardening gloves, whether thorn-proof, made especially for weeding or brambling bushes and barbed plants, must be made of a breathable, flexible and sturdy material. Also, they should offer a comfortable and secure fit and a decent amount of protection and grip that’s not too sticky. In addition, water-resistant garden gloves can keep hands dry during gardening tasks.


Which are the best Garden Hand Tools for beginners?

The beginner gardener’s starter pack consists of:

  1. Garden Tool Set
  2. A pair of Bypass Pruning Shears
  3. Shovel and Spade
  4. Long handled garden hoe like the Draw Hoe
  5. A Garden Rake or a Bow Rake

Also, consider buying a Pruning Saw because it is not expensive and it is always handy when needed.


Besides garden hand tools, what else is a must-have for garden jobs?

  • Gardening gloves
  • Kneeling pad
  • Wheelbarrow for moving loose or heavy materials
  • Garden tool shed for storing the garden tools
  • Garden hoses or some kind of irrigation system

For heavier gardening tasks and big gardens consider buying outdoor power tools like leaf blowers, hedge trimmers and weed trimmers. For larger lawn areas a lawn mower is always good to have.


Garden hand tools color

Did you lose your favorite hand tool? Well, you are not alone. It happens to all of us from time to time. For example, years ago a member of our editorial team lost her favorite hand pruner. She found it last year while she was digging to make holes for her favorite bulbs. If you are like us, and tend to misplace your tools in the garden and lose them, then the color of the tool might help you find it! Typically, you want your hand tools to have bright colors like red, blaze orange or yellow.

You should avoid common ground or plant colors like green, black or brown for your tools. If you leave a tool with such color on the ground or near a plant it will not be easily visible.


Which is the best place to buy garden hand tools?

Typically, when we are searching for hand tools we want to inspect them before buying them. For this reason we always visit our local gardening or hardware stores. We like to hold the tools in our hands and ensure that they are comfortable to use. We check if their weight, length and other tool properties are best for us. Also, we take a firsthand view of the tools and check if they have any defects.

However, we cannot find everything in the local stores. Many times we have to order tools from an online store. Our favorite online retailer is amazon.com because there you can find a plethora of tools for gardening. Amazon has a huge collection of garden tools for every need and every budget.


Garden hand tools general care and maintenance

The lifespan of tools for gardening is correlated to the care that you will provide to them. You must do some proper maintenance if you want to keep your garden hand tools for a long time. Even the best tools for gardens won’t work properly if they are not maintained regularly. Also, because there are so many different products on the market for each garden tool category, it is important to read their manuals carefully.

  1. After each use you should clean, wash and use a damp cloth to dry them well to remove any moisture.
  2. Oil them with some lubricant when needed. It is especially important to oil their metal parts if you want to prevent rust.
  3. Sometimes the blades of garden shears stick together. In this case, adjust the blades. In addition, oil the spring mechanism and the pivot points. If the problem persists, then polish the cutting edges with fine steel wool.
  4. Many of the garden tools have edges that need to be sharp when they get quite dull. Depending on the garden hand tool, use a sharpening tool such as a honing stone or a good hand file to sharpen the blades.
  5. Occasionally do some light sanding to wooden handles and use a finishing oil to finish it once a year.
  6. Soak the garden hand tools in a disinfectant, like rubbing alcohol or a household disinfectant diluted 1 to 4, to sterilize them when working on diseased plants.
  7. Store your gardening tools in a dry place like a garden tool shed or an outdoor storage cabinet. Remember to oil them before you store them for the Winter.

If you do regular maintenance, it will help to protect and prolong the life of your precious garden tools.


Garden Hand Tools safety

If you examine one of the oldest written and spoken languages in the world you will notice a peculiarity. In the Greek language many words that are about war but also agriculture and gardening have the same prefix. For example Ar-es the god of war and ar- defsi (άρδευση) which is the Greek word for irrigation.

Well, it is not by chance. In the past, garden hand tools were used as weapons. Some of them are still used as weapons by some armies. Generally, manual tools for gardening are dangerous. You should be extra careful when using them. Moreover, you should treat them as a well-trained soldier treats its weapon: Safety first!

  • Warm up before doing gardening jobs.
  • Always inspect the garden hand tools for defects or damage before using them.
  • Use the correct garden hand tool for the job. It is safer and will do the job better.
  • Wear gardening gloves and other personal protective equipment like safety goggles when needed.
  • Always be careful of your fingers when you use garden shears or other cutting tools.
  • Keep hands and feet away from digging or cutting areas.
  • Avoid overreaching because it can result in loss of balance.
  • Do not wear loose clothing if the tool has moving parts.
  • Try to work in the shade to avoid sun exposure. You can avoid harmful sun exposure by working early in the morning or late in the day.  However, you should avoid using tools in poor lighting.
  • Wear hats and apply sunscreen frequently. A proper hat can ensure that your face and the top of your head are all protected from the sun.
  • Do not use garden tools if you are very tired.
  • Remember to drink plenty of water during gardening tasks and take frequent breaks.
  • Store gardening tools and equipment safely and securely.
  •  Keep them away and out of the reach of young children.

Whether you are planning to spend a day gardening or prune your favorite shrub, considering the above tips. Adopting them long-term can help reduce the risk for problems and accidents for yourself and your family.


What to consider when buying garden hand tools

Generally speaking, the size of your lawn or garden and soil types of your garden will determine the hand tool for the garden that you need. It’s important to understand this so you can choose the best tool for each gardening job. In addition, we suggest you read our guides for each category of hand tools for gardening. Many tool categories are divided into two or more basic types.

Each type is suitable for different tasks. For example, you shouldn’t buy a splitting axe or maul to chop a tree. Instead of a splitting type, you should choose the chopping axe type. Choosing the right garden tool type will help you finish your tasks quicker, with better results and less frustration for you and your wallet.

Garden or lawn size

Most of the times, the size of your garden will determine the gardening tool that you need. For smaller gardens, a hoe or a rake is enough to effectively cultivate their soil. Larger gardens may require you to use a hand rotary cultivator to finish the job faster. The same applies to the lawn’s area. You don’t have to buy a manual lawn mower or a powered one to cut its grass if the area of your lawn is small. You can use a pair of long-handled grass shears to cut the grass. Not only will the grass shears tool be cheaper, but the result will be better too.

The weight of garden hand tools

Buying the right tools that will meet your needs make it easier for most garden tasks. Some garden hand tools have to be heavy to work efficiently. For example, a lightweight hand tamper will not be able to pack down soil properly. Also, a garden tool that penetrates the soil with the aid of your body’s weight has to be heavy. On the flip side, you don’t want your garden shears to be heavy because they will tire you quickly.

Plant Types

Do you have a hedge? Is it tall or long? Maybe it’s not a hedge but a shrub. Or, maybe it’s a small hedge. In either case, you may find out that you’re better off with your hand pruner or a grass clipper! What is more, if you use a pair of pruning shears you will be able to make better shapes.

Soil Type

The type of soil you have is a determining factor when you choose a tool for gardening. Different types of soil require different tools. For example, for a clay type of soil you will need a pick mattock or a grub hoe instead of a classic draw hoe. In the same example, a sturdy garden fork will perform better than a generic spading fork. Another example is the manual auger with a spiral head. This digging tool will not manage to do its job well if your soil’s type is not sandy.


The handles of garden hand tools

The three basic materials used for the handle of the gardening tools are wood, metal and fiberglass. Each material has advantages and disadvantages. Many handles (shafts) have some type of an anti-slip or no-slip grip material or design that improves grip.

Wooden handles

The wooden handles are the classic choice. They are repairable if not damaged severely and easy to replace if damaged beyond repair. If you have to replace them you will find a replacement everywhere. Typically, these handles are made from oak, maple, yellow birch, hickory or ash woods. Wooden handles are affordable and strong, plus wood is a natural shock absorber.

On the flip side, they are very sensitive to environmental conditions like moisture. In addition, the wooden handle has to have a straight wood grain pattern otherwise it is useless. Also, to remain great, the wooden handle needs some care. Once a year, use a finishing oil to finish it. Furthermore, the wooden handle might need light sanding with a good sandpaper to sand off splinters.

Fiberglass handles

These days, fiberglass tool handles for garden tools are very popular. There are several reasons that contribute to fiberglass’ popularity. They are corrosion resistant and waterproof. Also, they require little maintenance and they do not splinter. In addition, the fiberglass handles are lighter and more durable. However, their long exposure to direct sunlight or high temperatures damages them severely. Furthermore, they cannot be replaced easily and are more expensive than the wooden ones.

Metal handles

The steel handles add more weight which can be good or bad depending on the garden tool and your technique. The aluminum handles are more lightweight. Typically, if you have to lift a gardening tool above your waist choose one with aluminum handles. If the garden task needs a tool to be heavy and the tool benefits from the user’s weight then the steel handles are the best choice.

However, they get very hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Another major drawback is their feedback. Usually, handles made of steel are hollow. They tend to vibrate and recoil which means more fatigue for the user.


Head or blade materials of garden hand tools

Choose your poison because each alloy has advantages and disadvantages. For some uses like shoveling and digging it depends on the soil type. For cutting it is about how much time you intend to spend to sharpen and care for your tool. In addition, there are acquisition concerns. For example, a stainless steel tool (that is a proper stainless steel one) will cost much more than a similar tool made of high carbon steel. On the other hand, the stainless steel one will last longer. For titanium ones you will have to pay even more for the metal.

Carbon steel and high carbon steel

Carbon steel is the most commonly used alloy. Typically, carbon steel, like the high carbon steel that is often used in garden hand tools, is brittle. A hard and tough steel like this will not deform and lose its shape, but it will break. In addition, it is not resistant to corrosion and as such is susceptible to rust.

Generally, the garden tool blades made of high carbon steel have a layer of hydrophobic coating that protects them against rust. High-carbon steel blades have good edge retention. They need oiling often to prevent oxidation because they will rust quickly when exposed to moisture.

Chromoly steel

This steel is harder and stronger than carbon steel. Additionally, it has better corrosion resistance. However, it is more expensive as a material. Normally, you will not find many garden tools with chromoly steel. It got its name from the two alloying elements it contains: Chromium and molybdenum.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel is a type of steel that is rust-resistant and less prone to oxidation because it contains a high percentage of chromium (at least 10.5%). It will not rust as quickly as other steels. Additionally, it is ductile and will not crack as easily as carbon steel. Another good feature of stainless steel is that it needs less maintenance than carbon steel and… you can clean it easily.

On the other hand, it is less wear resistant than carbon steel which means that a garden tool will maintain its cutting edge for a shorter time than a tool with a high carbon steel cutting head. Moreover, stainless steel is more expensive as a material.

Titanium

There are few garden tools on the market with blades or heads made of titanium. We don’t mean “titanium coating”, but solid titanium. A head or blade made of titanium is lighter and more durable than steel ones. Moreover, titanium does not rust, it is as strong as steel and soil does not stick on it. Unfortunately, these tools are expensive because titanium as a material is expensive.

Fiberglass and plastic

There are some garden tools for digging that have fiberglass or plastic heads. These tools should be used only in very loose or sandy soils because they bend very easily. However they do not rust, are completely waterproof and very lightweight.


Other things to consider before buying garden hand tools

When you choose a hand tool for gardening you should take a few more last considerations. For example, the tool that you choose to buy might not be the best value for you if you are casually working in the garden.

Do you have it already?

Is the specific garden hand tool the right tool for the right job? Maybe you don’t have to buy a new tool because you already have another one that can help you do the specific gardening job with the same ease. There are some gardening hand tools that you can use for many different tasks. The garden fork is a classic example of a versatile tool. You don’t have to buy a spike aerator to aerate your lawn because you can do the same job with a garden fork!

Garden hand tools brand recognition

There are some brands that are “sure bets” when you are searching for a quality garden tool. They have great tools and their tools are backed by good warranties. For example:

  • Felco and ARS for pruning shears
  • Okatsune and Berger for hedge shears
  • Felco for loppers
  • Samurai for pruning saws
  • Gransfors Bruk for axes
  • Eijkelkamp, Seymour and AMS for post hole diggers and manual augers
  • Wazakura for bonsai scissors and cutters.

Price of garden hand tools

Like many other things, you get what you pay for. In our opinion, there is a price to pay for the quality metal used in every garden tool. However, there are budget gardening tools that will do the job well and are very cost effective. Another concern that is correlated to the price of acquisition of a garden tool is how much time you are going to “spend” every day for gardening. For example, if you do gardening occasionally, then maybe you should not buy a very expensive tool.

Environmental concerns

Many folks decide to use garden hand tools instead of their powered counterparts for environmental reasons mostly. For the same reasons, we suggest to these people to reduce their own carbon footprint by taking an easy step: When you shop for new gardening hand tools like shovels, garden shears and digging tools look for products that are made in climate-friendly countries if it is possible. Moreover, avoid buying hand tools that are made, or have parts made, in countries that are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide gas in the world. Carbon dioxide is the climate’s worst enemy. Don’t encourage or help its enemies!


In summary

Not quite sure what the different categories of hand tools for the garden are? Understanding each one will help you choose the best for each of your gardening tasks. Whether you are a beginner, casual or professional gardener there is a hand tool option that will support your needs. Thankfully, we have put together a list of the best basic gardening hand tool categories available today to complete your gardening tasks easily and effectively. While gardening is a relaxing activity, when the hours of gardening start to rack up, you will be glad you took the time to find the best hand tools to make these hours less exhausting. Α good hand tool for gardening should last for years.

Last Updated on March 1, 2022 by Editors

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