Every gardener has go-to tools they use to make gardening easier. Over the years I’ve tried a LOT of garden tools and gear. Some worked great, others did not. The ones I’m sharing are the tools that I’ve come to rely on to make both my garden and myself more productive. I call them the best gardening tools you didn’t know you needed.
1. Row cover
Row cover may sound like an odd choice for a must-have tool, but it’s essential in my garden. These are lightweight, semi-transparent fabrics laid directly on top of crops or floated above on hoops or other supports. I use row covers year-round to protect my crops from bad weather, intense sun, or animals. In spring and autumn, row covers shield my vegetables from frost. In summer, I use it them block sun and hold moisture when seeding or transplanting successive crops. In winter, lengths of row cover are draped on wire hoops over my polytunnel beds to add an extra layer of protection for the cold-hardy vegetables. You can also buy fleece tunnels with the wire hoops already attached for super quick set-up.
2. Cobrahead Weeder and Cultivator
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the Cobrahead in my list of the best gardening tools you didn’t know you needed. I’ve been using the Cobrahead Weeder and Cultivator in my vegetable and flower gardens for over a decade and have several of the original model as well as two of the recently introduced short-handled version. It’s my go-to hand tool because it’s effective, durable, comfortable, and with a brightly colored handle, I rarely lose it amongst the foliage. I use my Cobraheads to weed, transplant, loosen soil for seeding, and for the many little to big tasks that come up as I work in the garden.
3. Watering wand
Learning to water properly is a skill essential to promoting good plant health because too little or too much water will quickly kill plants. But it’s also important to water-smart and avoid wetting foliage which encourages the spread of fungal diseases. A watering wand makes it easy to reach the base of your plants. It also makes watering faster and easier, especially when irrigating raised beds, containers, and hanging baskets. And I love the bold, bright colors of the wands – from turquoise to purple and every shade in between. Depending on what you need to water, you’ll also find different styles and wand lengths available.
Not many gardeners have discovered just how handy shadecloth can be in a garden. This sun-blocking material is used mainly in greenhouses to block sun and reduce temperatures. But, shadecloth can also be hung on hoops over cool season vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and other salad greens in late spring to prolong the harvest and delay bolting. Or, use it to harden off homegrown seedlings and adapt to outdoor growing conditions. Shadecloth fabric is knitted in different densities to block out different amounts of light. I’ve found that 30 to 40% shadecloth, which blocks 30 to 40% of sunlight, to be the most versatile.
5. Bypass pruners
A good quality pair of pruners is indispensable to any gardener and I’ve had my same pair of Felco #2’s since my university days (let’s just say they’ve been in use for a very long time!). And as technology changes, we see advancements in tool design and all of the Savvy Gardening experts have been trying new pruners like the Corona FlexDial Bypass Hand Pruner. This cool tool has a ComfortGEL grip that makes it very comfy to use even after several hours of pruning or deadheading. And, thanks to the FlexDial, they’re made to fit every sized hand. Just turn the dial from 1 to 8 to get a custom fit based on the size of your hands.
6. Fiskars 3 Claw Garden Weeder
Raise your hand if you hate weeding! I’m all about making this time-consuming chore quicker and easier, and this device was designed for efficient weeding. The serrated claws grab the base of the plant firmly and pull up the entire root of invasive weeds like dandelions. The extended handle means there’s no bending or stooping, so no sore back after a weeding session.
7. Garden tub
I’m new to the world of garden tubs only getting my first, the Garant models pictured below, back in spring. But, I absolutely adore this versatile garden tool. I’ve used a garden tub to pre-moisten potting soil for seed starting, collect weeds, haul compost, gather leaves, and hold just-harvested pumpkins, squash, and cucumbers. These lightweight garden tubs also called tub trugs or tubbys, come in a rainbow of colors with handles that make it easy to move them around the garden.