A good gardener needs a combination of skills and the right tools to do the job. When possible, select tools made with recycled, natural, sustainably harvested materials; however, the most important characteristic of any garden tool is durability. It’s best to select tools from local garden stores, where you can feel them in your hand. Otherwise, online resources such as Clean Air Gardening offer high-quality choices.
Shovel & Spade: Pick up shovels and spades one at a time at a garden center until you are comfortable with one. Both tools are important for digging and scooping. A spade is useful for slicing into dense soil.
Fork: A fork is the most important tool after a shovel and spade and is used for many jobs, such as turning over compost piles.
Rake: The most useful rake is a standard steel-headed rake that you can use to break down soil and level ground.
Hoe: The Dutch hoe is best for simple weeding and is used with a pushing action while walking backward. Hoes with short handles are helpful for close work, such as thinning seedlings.
Wheelbarrow: A wheelbarrow or garden cart is essential for transporting materials.
Trowel: You’ll need a trowel to dig in small areas, particularly to dig holes for planting. A trowel is a small tool, but choose carefully, selecting one with a smooth handle that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.
Hose: When buying a garden hose, choose a high-quality, reinforced hose that will not kink, plus a reel to wind it on.
Watering Can: A watering can is useful for spots hoses can’t reach.
Gloves: You should always have a stout pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands when doing tough jobs.
For tips and tricks on spring garden and soil preparation you can do this winter, read the article "Sow Now, Reap Later: Garden Planning."