Gardening has always been a great way to get some fresh air and exercise (those bags of fertilizer are heavy!) while enjoying the miracle of making things grow. These days, as people take refuge from the novel coronavirus, those simple pleasures are more important than ever.
So it’s no wonder that lots of folks are stress-shopping for victory garden seeds and mail-ordering chicks to raise their own food—and cut back on grocery store trips.
Of course, you can wing it in the backyard by digging with an old serving spoon and kneeling on a kitchen towel when you weed, but the right gear makes gardening so much easier.
So whether you need an upgrade from your mother’s hand-me-down tools or you’re a novice green thumb who wants to sow in style, here are the top 10 must-haves when tending a home veggie patch or flower beds.
1. Garden gloves
Word to the wise: You never know what you’ll run into when you’re upturning dirt.
“Get some protection for your hands by shopping for gloves that are durable but not too cumbersome, because you’ll be working with seeds and seedlings,” says Susan Brandt, the green thumb at Blooming Secrets.
This pretty pair is made from tough nylon, comes in three sizes, and is so well-priced you can get an extra pair for your mother ($14, Anthropologie).
2. Hand trowel
Digging holes, moving soil, transplanting, and weeding—a hand trowel can serve many functions in a backyard garden.
“The handle should be comfortable in your hand, and look for one made from stainless steel as it’ll be sturdier and last longer,” says Brandt.
This trowel features a galvanized iron blade for slicing through roots and tilling hard-packed dirt ($9, Target).
3. Watering can
Whether you choose plastic or metal, don’t get a watering can that’s too large as lugging it full of heavy water will be too much to handle. If you’re tending plants both inside and out in the yard, you might consider getting two types, one with a longer neck for house pots and one with a sprinkler head for the garden, says Brandt.
You’ll love toting around this pretty watering can with a glossy finish and vintage styling, and then displaying it on the deck when you’re done ($34, Home Depot).
4. Kneeling pad
Morning dew will dampen your legs and knobby bits can be painful to kneecaps, so don’t crouch in your garden without protection.
“A kneeling pad releases pressure and decreases fatigue in your knees, which means you can garden for longer,” says Gary McCoy, a Lowe’s gardening expert.
This pick has a comfy foam pad and handles for toting around the yard. Plus you can hang it up on a hook when the weeding’s done ($26, Lowe’s).
“A rake has many uses beyond gathering twigs and fallen leaves. You’ll also use it to brush away weeds and spread mulch,” says Oscar Ortega, maintenance care manager at FormLA Landscaping.
A steel garden rake also helps you break and scratch into hard ground, adds McCoy.
This 60-inch pick has a fiberglass handle and a cushioned grip midway down the shaft for comfort during long raking sessions ($29, Lowe’s).
6. Garden nozzle
Home gardeners may think weeding is a constant, but watering is probably tied for the most frequent chore—and a quality nozzle makes it go faster.
“Get one with an adjustable head so you can control the pressure and how wide you spray,” says Brandt.
This nozzles allows you to jet, mist, shower, or soak your petunias, and comes with a two-year warranty ($13, Amazon).
7. Rubber hose
Attach your nozzle to a quality hose, but be sure to measure it before purchasing.
“Figure out how long the hose should be to reach all of your beds, and know that the longer it is, the lower the water pressure will be,” says Brandt.
A rubber one, like this, costs more than vinyl, which can kink ($35, Amazon). Always store your hose coiled and out of the sun, which can damage it over time, she adds.
Ortega likes this tool because it uproots pesky weeds without leaving an unsightly hole the way a trowel would.
“You can even slip this tool between concrete pavers,” he adds. The sharp, stainless-steel blade on this pick can cut through weeds in planters, flower beds, and herb gardens ($5.50, Home Depot).
9. Sun hat
Sure, a baseball cap is fine, but a hat with a broad brim and a tight weave offers better sun protection. This chic chapeau is rated at SPF 50-plus and has a lanyard you can cinch so it doesn’t fly off in the wind while you’re working ($21, Amazon).
10. Garden tote
A pocket for every tool and a roomy main section for fertilizer and small stakes is a smart buy for any level of gardener. This attractive tote can be personalized with your initials, and it also comes in pink, navy, and black ($28, Etsy).