Garden hand tools buying guide
Whether you’re a green-fingered expert or just like to potter around the garden on a weekend, having the right tools for the job will make all your pruning, cutting, digging and planting jobs a lot easier.
Here at Homebase, you’ll find a fantastic collection of the best garden hand tools around, designed to help you transform your outside space, so you can spend more time enjoying your garden.
Find out how to choose the right tools for your next gardening job with this expert buying guide.
Types of garden hand tools
Spades and forks
Digging tools are absolutely essential and if you’re only going to invest in one tool for your garden, make it a spade or a fork.
Generally, spades and forks come with either 28 inch or 32 inch shafts. The size you choose will depend on your height and which feels most comfortable to you.
There’s also a variety of handle styles available, with D-shaped, T-shaped and wishbone handles to choose from. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time working in the garden, it’s a sensible idea to pick one with a comfortable, ergonomic handle.
Although a high quality spade or fork will help with most garden digging work, you may want to invest in some smaller handheld tools for your delicate border work. Smaller handheld designs are also ideal for working in your vegetable patches, pots and tubs.
Cultivators are perfect for quickly and easily breaking down clumps of compacted soil and loosening the earth in your borders. The head of a cultivator has three or five angled prongs with sharpened ends that break the soil up as you pull them through.
Some cultivators have two handles, allowing you to use a push-pull action as you work. Ideal for aerating soil, removing weeds and preparing the earth for planting, these handy tools will help you whip your garden into shape in no time.
Hoes are used to loosen and manoeuvre the earth. They’re also ideal for weeding large areas of soil.
There are several different types of hoe blade, all designed for slightly different functions. At Homebase, you can choose from Dutch hoes, draw hoes and traditional hoes.
A good rake is invaluable. Whether you’re collecting leaves, removing stones and debris from flowerbeds, or breaking up and smoothing over soil, a rake will save you time and effort.
For lawns and large beds, invest in a rake with more teeth and a wider head. For smaller areas and stubborn soil, a narrower head with rigid teeth will do the job nicely.
There are a number of different planting tools, designed to help you when planting seeds, bulbs and saplings.
For potting and transferring maturing plants, you’ll want a selection of trowels. If you’re moving very young plants, use a specialist transplanting trowel. Designed with narrower heads, some transplanting trowels have depth gauges marked on their blades to help you plant to the perfect level.
Other handy planting tools include bulb planters and dibbers, both of which will make planting larger planting jobs much easier.
Pruning and cutting tools
Pruning and cutting tools are really useful for keeping your garden trim and tidy, and can be used on everything from bushes and shrubs to hedges and trees.
Secateurs are available in two designs (anvil and bypass), and are perfect for pruning and cutting stems and branches up to 1cm in diameter. Loppers are similar to secateurs, but with extended handles for extra leverage, so they can be used to cut branches up to 3cm in diameter.
If you need a bit more height, choose a pair of loppers with telescopic handles.
For larger branches and trees, it’s a good idea to invest in a pruning saw or a bow saw. If you are looking for a tool suitable for hedges and large bushes, some sharp shears will help to keep the foliage in check.
What do I need to consider before buying garden hand tools?
Before investing a new garden hand tool, it’s a good idea to think about the size and makeup of your outside space, and what you’re trying to achieve in your garden.
If you have a large space, and a wide variety of different trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables, you’ll need a wide variety of tools to keep your garden looking its best.
If you’re planning to put your energies into a vegetable patch or borders full of flowering plants, then investing in specialist planting and cultivating tools will make your life a lot easier.
It’s also a good idea to consider where you’re going to store your tools. Even the toughest tools will begin to rust and warp after a while if left out in the elements, so make sure you’ve got a dry and secure place to keep them.
Looking after your tools
Looking after your garden hand tools properly will help to significantly extend their lifespan.
As well as storing your tools in a dry, secure location, make sure that you clean any dirt or soil off them at the end of a hard day’s gardening. This will prevent rusting and help to keep your storage area clean.
Sharpen cutting tools regularly, and before they become too blunt. This will ensure that your tools always perform to their best. You should replace blades as soon as they break.
Oiling your tools and treating them with WD40 before you put them away will help to keep them in great condition for even longer.
Tool heads made of highly-polished steel or supplied with a PTFE coating minimise 'soil stick' are also rust-resistant. PTFE works like the coating on a non-stick pan and protects the head from wear and tear, extending the life of your tools.