The Top 10 Hand Tools Every Gardener Needs

Posted by @Trish on
We put the question to the National Gardening Association members: What are your favorite hand tools? They responded with all their favorites, and after combing through all the nominations, we now present the list of the top hand tools from!

1Weeding tools

Where there are gardens, there are weeds. It's no surprise, then, that this is our largest category with the most recommendations.

Far and away the CobraHead weeder is very well loved by our members. It isn't hard to see why with its proficient and ergonomic design.

The Nejiri Gama Hoe is equally loved and respected amoung our fellow weeders.

The Winged Weeder Junior does its job very well and efficiently.

The Cape Cod weeder (or similar sickle/razor-type), Trish's current personal favorite, will almost make you want to weed a little longer. Well, almost.

What about that really tough patch of weeds? You obviously need Dave's favorite: the Weed Dragon.

Honorable mentions go to
Garden Bandit and Weedcomb.


Felco and Okatsune, Corona were the most highly rated brands for hand-held pruners meant for everyday tiding up. Fiskers, Florian, and any good folding saw are recommended for tackling the larger jobs. If you are really serious, get a cordless reciprocating saw for your pruning job.

3Hori-Hori Knives

What is a Hori Hori knife, and why do I want one?

This knife (also called a “garden knife”) is a large, steel blade used for cutting as well as digging in your garden. One side is sharp, and the other is serrated, providing you with everything you need to do a quick garden chore, such as separating and replanting a perennial.

There are many great brands that will last a long time. Our members specifically named the A.M. Leonard soil knife and Brent and Becky's garden knife as among the best. Not ready to take the plunge on another gardening tool? Members report that using a good older wooden-handled steak knife is a great replacement. We think you'll try that and add a Hori Hori knife to your “must-have” list quickly!

43 Pronged Cultivators

These good, basic tools are a staple in nearly every garden shed. They help weed, loosen soil, and are just fun to play in the dirt with. Similar to the garden trowel, there are many companies that make great cultivator tools. Choose one that is solid and sturdy at your local home improvement store or nursery and you are set.

5Garden Carts

No serious gardener can be without a garden cart. A typical small, cheap wheel barrow isn't going to cut it for us! We need something with large (preferably solid) wheels that will hold a lot of anything you need moving. A quality cart will more than pay for itself. There are many on the market, but this one by Rubbermaid is one that Dave and I have had for more than 15 years, and it is still going strong!


The type of rake you need will depend on the type of gardener you are, and on what you have growing in your yard. No matter the kind, though, we all agree that a quality rake is a necessity. Here are a few recommended by our members:

Dave loves the Dura rake for any big project.

Bully Tools also has a popular steel rake that is excellent.

Expanding rakes, such as this one from Bond Manufacturing Co, are extremely popular.


Many members agree that a hoe is indispensable in their garden. Make no mistake, though- this isn't your grandfather's hoe. Today's hoes come in all shapes and sizes, and there is one for every need.

These Stirrup hoes are favorites for newly germinated annual weeds.

The Diamond hoe is very popular due to its size and ability to nick out even tiny weeds with 4 points of action, instead of the typical 2.

Just looking for the best tool for cutting soil and moving dirt? Try out the Prohoe Rogue 7-inch field hoe.


Looking for a good shovel? Our members have you covered with the best from every type.

For the smaller variety: this one by Bond and this one by Ames.

Looking to buy a shovel that will last you a lifetime? Look at the King of Spades D- Handle shovel. or the King of Spades balling spade.

The Leonard All Steel Nursery Spades also come highly recommended.

9 Trowels

What good is a gardener without their trusty trowel? Oxo and Cutco trowels come hightly recommended, and can be found at any big box store. Want something that is a little bit more dual-purpose? The Diggit Tool is also listed among the favorites.

10Everything Else

We just couldn't manage to narrow our list down to just 10 most-needed items! Gardeners will always think of additional items that we need to add to our arsenal, not to mention the “standards” like gloves, garden labels, stakes, forks (pitch and potato), sprayers, spreaders, tweezers (for seedlings), dibbers, measuring tapes (how big is that plant going to get, anyway?), a digital scale (for plant trading, of course), and a camera (to share all of your beautiful plants with thousands of your best friends on ATP!)

Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
the A.M. Leonard soil knife - The BEST Weeder by kousa Mar 7, 2016 4:45 PM 0
Prohoe Rogue Scuffle Hoes by jrbales Feb 20, 2016 6:19 AM 1
So helpful! by pirl Feb 9, 2016 6:50 PM 27
Cobra head weeder by coboro Feb 8, 2016 6:19 PM 3
Winged Weeder by Paul2032 Jan 30, 2016 1:35 PM 0
Nejiri Gama Hoe by coboro Jan 29, 2016 10:43 PM 1

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