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Gardening is a great hobby to take up. Though there is a bigger cost upfront when acquiring tools and establishing beds, there are many ways to save some pennies now (and in the long run) while doing this.

For example, there are loads of low-cost and no-cost methods for building up fertile garden beds almost instantly. Of course, we can also add/maintain fertility by keeping a compost bin at home using kitchen scraps, yard debris, and biodegradable trash such as shredded paper or dead flowers. We can plant seeds instead of seedlings (much cheaper) and save our seeds for next year’s garden.

We can take more clever measures to keep costs down in terms of tools. Thrift stores and yard sales are great places to find used garden tools for cheap. It also helps to know what tools we need and why we need them. When visiting the garden center, there are so many options that it’s easy to get distracted by gadgetry. Check out these nine essential tools you should start with:

1. Compost Fork or Pitch Fork

While this instrument will be used sparingly in the garden itself, it is an integral piece of creating a sustainable garden. Because of that, we’ll need some compost. Compost tends to be too loose for the pitchfork most of us are familiar with (at least through pictures) but too chunky for shovels to deal with effectively. Compost forks, usually with five or six times as opposed to the pitchfork’s three or four, are ideal for turning compost, and we should make some quick compost to help us get started.

Source: Kitchen Garden Magazine/Youtube

2. Garden Fork/Broadfork

When making garden beds, we don’t necessarily need to till or dig and turn the soil. Instead, we can use a garden fork (small areas, say 100 sq. ft. gardens) or a broadfork (larger areas) to loosen up the soil. With these tools, you can stab holes into the soil, lift it a little, and move on. This provides the aeration/decompaction we need without killing all the valuable soil life. This is a great way to prepare a spot to be a garden bed.

3. Garden Hoe

There are loads of garden hoe designs out there, but the standard paddle hoe with a rectangular head is the best all-purpose choice. It can be used to move soil around in raised beds or shape soil into rows. The corner can make furrows for planting seeds. The chopping blades can help with weeding.

4. Garden Rake

Garden rakes, also known as hard rakes, are rakes with rigid metal heads and tines that are more geared for raking soil as opposed to leaves. These are great for smoothing out planting surfaces and breaking up chunks of dirt. Garden rakes also work very well for gently pressing small seeds into the soil after being broadcast.

5. Leaf rake

Like the compost fork, the leaf rake will mainly be used outside of the actual garden but in service of it. It should be used to collect leaves in the autumn, piling them up to make a sort of compost leaf mold mulch for next year’s garden. It should also be used to rake up grass clippings (if there are some) in the yard. Dried grass clippings make great mulch, too, or fresh grass clippings to a pile every week to make great compost to add to the garden in the fall.

6. Pruners/Secateurs

This is one of the tools that it’s worth spending a couple of extra bucks for a quality pair, and that means something with as little plastic as possible. A good metal set will last a long time. They are going to be used for pruning plants like tomatoes and squashes as well as harvesting crops without damaging the plants. The blade on a good pair of pruners can always be sharpened if that starts to get dull.

Source: FELCO Tool/Youtube

7. Shovel

Whether or not we are creating no-dig garden beds, a solid shovel is simply a must-have tool. We will likely have to dig soil at some point. For example, if we get a load of topsoil delivered, if we need to plant an apple tree, or if we have a huge sunflower to dig up at the end of the season, nothing quite gets these jobs done as well as a shovel. Plus, there are all sorts of jobs around the house, outside of the garden, where this is useful.

8. Trowel

Ironically, we likely will not need a shovel for planting stuff in the veggie patch. In this case, a little trowel is an ideal tool. Usually, when we are planting in the vegetable garden, we deal with either tiny seedlings or seeds, so we don’t need a huge hole to get these in the ground. A huge hole could cause problems, so a trowel is ideal.

Source: Gardening Philippines/Youtube

9. Wheelbarrow

The most expensive part of the collection of garden tools will likely be the wheelbarrow, but it sure does make life a lot easier. Wheelbarrows come in handy when moving soil or compost around, but they can also be an attribute for transporting a flat of seedlings, collecting weeds, and pruning plant parts to add to the compost bin. They can transfer stones for garden borders, mulch for garden beds, or wood chips for garden paths.

Hey, there may be other necessities or fun stuff to find along the way, but get these tools in the shed, and we’ve got the how-to of getting our gardens growing, from prepping the soil to turning the compost to weeding the beds to cleaning up the scraps.

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