It's essential to use the right tool for digging, weeding and planting in your garden. Whether you're an experienced gardener or new to getting your fingers green, simply using the best tool can make garden maintenance a breeze.
But with so many to choose from, it can be confusing to find the right garden hand tool for your outdoor job. Perhaps you're digging over a patch of ground that hasn’t been worked on for a long time, or just want to maintain the beds and borders you already have. Either way, achieving the garden look you want shouldn't be back-breaking work.
That's where we can help. Here's our guide to help you find the perfect garden hand tools for digging, weeding and planting to make gardening simple and fun.
Have a think about what jobs you'll be tackling in the garden - this will help you choose the most suitable tools. For example, are you picking through already loosened soil to remove weeds? Or are you digging very compacted soil that has had very little work done on it?
If you’re creating new beds and borders, you’ll need to stock up on tools that not only help you establish the area, but also help you dig over the soil. Digging over unprepared ground improves drainage and introduces air – this helps speed up the breakdown of organic matter, which releases more plant nutrients into the soil. This is obviously important prior to planting seeds, new plants, shrubs and vegetables.
With all this considered, we recommend smaller, thinner tools for manoeuvring around established plants and shrubs, while bigger, more hardwearing tools are better suited for digging over unprepared ground.
Soil type determines the type of tool you’ll need. For instance, if you have heavy soil that’s difficult to break up, or soil that’s full of plant material, you’ll need heavy-duty tools that’ll make light work of it. Lighter, looser soil with little plant material can be worked on with lighter tools.
For more on how to understand your soil, head to the "What type of soil is in your garden?" section of our planting article.
Don't forget your personal comfort when planning to work in the garden for any period of time. Avoid an aching back by choosing the right length tool for you. If you're tall, we advise selecting a longer option, so you don’t have to stoop too low.
Tools include: Garden shovels, garden forks, hand forks, hoes and cultivators, root breakers, weeders and soil rakes.
Use to dig, lift and scoop soil or other loose materials (such as manure, sand, gravel or salt)
Our garden shovels are available with:
Use to loosen, lift and turn over soil
Garden forks are used in a similar way to digging spades, but their sturdy tines (prongs) make it easier pushing into the ground – making them a better choice for harder soil. Also known as spading forks or digging forks, they’re also less likely to be stopped by stones or other small obstacles compared to a spade.
There are two types of garden fork: digging forks and border forks.
Our garden forks are available with:
Use to turn and aerate the top layer of soil, remove weeds by the root
Our garden forks are available with:
Use to loosen and break up weeds and the top layer of soil
We offer two types of garden hoe in our range – Dutch and draw hoes.
Dutch hoes are your go-to tool for earthing up potatoes, onions and celery, and the corners of the blades can be used to draw a narrow trench or drill for sowing seeds.
Cultivators work in a similar way to hoes – breaking up soil and compacted ground. Unlike hoes, they feature three prongs, rather than one blade and they’re available in smaller versions called hand cultivators (also known as small-toothed cultivators).
Our garden hoes and cultivators are available with:
If you need to turn larger areas of soil, consider investing in a powered cultivator or tiller.
Use to remove weeds
Target problem weeds with a tool specially designed to remove them. There are many different weeders (for weed pullers, see our Lawn hand tools buying guide. We offer:
Our weeders are available with:
Use to spread and level soil or other loose materials (such as sand, mulch and gravel) and collect debris
This versatile tool has a wider head and shorter, flatter tines than a lawn rake. This makes it a more heavy-duty option that can level surfaces and help with landscaping. Because of their many uses, soil rakes are known by many names, including garden rakes, border rakes, flat-tined rakes and tarmac rakes. Look for smaller options to help with flower beds.
Our soil rakes are available with:
Use to chop and break up root and root systems
These tough tools have a narrower head than spades, allowing them to make more precise cuts.
Our root breaker is available with:
Tools include: garden spades, garden trowels, transplanters, scoops, dibbers, bulb planters, pick axes, mattocks, augers.
Use to cut through roots and plant material and scraping
Garden spades may look like shovels, but they're built to work very differently. There are two types of garden spade: digging spades and border spades.
Our garden spades are available with:
Use to dig and scoop soil in compact spaces
If you need to manoeuvre around existing plants, or want to dig out weeds with minimal soil disturbance, get yourself a hand trowel. They’re also great for planting out bulbs and seedlings, as well as re-potting plants in beds and containers. Transplanters work in the same way, but their heads are narrower. Scoops are perfect for moving compost into pots, troughs and hanging baskets with minimal spillage.
Our garden hand trowels, transporters & scoops are available with:
Use to prepare the soil for planting seeds, seedlings or bulbs
Dibbers are a small stick that is pointed on one end. Also known as dibblers or dibbles, their sharpened head is used to make a hole in the soil ready for planting smaller items, such as seeds and seedlings.
Our dibbers are available with:
For larger holes, pick up a bulb planter (pictured). These lift and hold the removed soil, giving you a chance to plant a bulb in the newly-created hole. Then simply release the soil back onto top of the bulb when needed.
Our bulb planter is available with:
Use to break the surface and dig into firm soil
These two tools are often confused as they do similar jobs – albeit in different ways. A pick axe (pictured) has a pick (or axe) at one end and a slim chisel on the other. Whereas, a mattock has a horizontal blade (or anze) on one end and a pick on the other. The pick axe’s blade is used to cut vertically, while the mattock’s blade cuts horizontally. This makes them a great combination when cultivating soil – break the surface with the pick axe and then work the soil with the mattock.
Our pick axes and mattocks are available with:
Use to create holes in soil for larger plants or vegetables (or fence posts)
An auger offers a non-powered way to drill a sizeable hole into the ground. This can be for the planting of large plants, though is most commonly used to create holes for fence posts. Because of this, they’re also known as a post hole digger, along with earth auger, soil auger and auger drill.
Our augers are available with:
Now let's stock up on those extra bits and pieces that you might need.
Consider some gardening gloves to limit your chance of blisters when gardening for extended periods of time. Choose a leather and cotton pair for the best protection. If you're going to be kneeling, invest in a kneeling cushion or seat to maintain comfort when digging and planting. And if you'll be digging up, opt for wellington boots.Shop gardening gloves
Depending on the type of soil you’ve got, you may need to do some work to ensure that it’s in the best state it can be for growing your chosen plants. Add compost and soil improvers to help with the structure of the soil, as well as fertiliser and plant food to nurture the plants when planted. And don't forget to keep them well watered with a watering can.