The Only Tools You Really Need to Start a Garden Now

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn
Stock up on these basics for your garden shed.

If you've been dreaming of turning your yard into a colorful cottage garden but don't know where to begin, we've got a punch list of basic garden tools to stock up on so you are ready for everything in your garden.

The Essentials

The Southern Living Garden Book — Before you purchase anything else, get this indispensable guide written by our Grumpy Gardener that details everything and anything having to do with Southern gardening. What to grow; common Southern garden problems; garden zone maps -- it's going to answer the questions that you don't even realize that you'll be having soon.

Gloves – Get the most lightweight pair you can find so your hands won’t get too hot.

Soil – In gardening you can never have enough potting soil. Be careful and read the bags carefully some types are formulated for container gardens while others are for garden beds.

Hose – Watering is key in the garden and you will get tired of making refill trips inside to your kitchen faucet.

Watering can – Your hose can only reach so far and sometimes your flowers need a light watering rather than a drench. Invest in a lightweight can that you can carry easily.

Pots – You will need an assortment of sizes and there’s a vast variety out there. When in doubt, always go for simple terracotta and you can’t go wrong.

Digging Tools

Round-Point Shovel – The classic shovel that you picture. This is for loosening soil in the ground or for transporting soil from either a pile or a wheelbarrow. It’s also your go-to for digging holes.

Garden Spade – A shovel with a straight edge, this prepares soil for planting and digs narrow, straight-sided trenches.

Spading Fork – Picture a pitch-fork. This is great for loosening and turning soil, working with manure, or turning compost.

Soil Rake – Like a sturdy metal rake, this breaks of clods of dirt, levels the soil, tamps seedbeds to make them firm, and works amendments into the top few inches of a planting bed.

Trowel – Imagine a pocket sized shovel. This is for planting and for scooping and transferring soil or fertilizer from bags.

Cutting Tools

Hedge Shears – These are longer clippers designed to shear coarse-leaved hedges, such as ligustrum, holly, cleyera, bougainvillea, or photinia

Light Hedge Shears – Slightly smaller and sharper clippers that are for trimming fine-leaved hedges like boxwood, lavender, and rosemary

Professional Scissors – Small clippers for snipping herbs like basil, thyme, and rosemary

Hand Pruner – Short, but thick clippers for cutting branches and stems throughout your garden and for other all purpose pruning.

Long Straight Snip – A sturdy cross between scissors and a hand pruner that’s designed to clip flowers for arrangements.

Lopper – Long handled clippers to prune branches that are less than 1.5-inches in diameter.

Are you worried that you commit a mortal garden sin? No fear, the Grumpy Gardener has you covered with his snarky answers.

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