Kitchen Garden Tools and Equipment
Tending a kitchen garden is not the same thing as working on a farm or even a row garden.
The same goes for the gardening tools required. We’re not talking about heavy machinery or big equipment here. You don’t need a huge tiller or a backhoe to prepare the soil in a raised bed. Once you’ve got your dirt installed in your garden, all you need are some hand tools.
Here are a few of my favorite and most-used tools in my gardening tool caddy—tools that are sure to help beginner gardeners find success, tools that master gardeners swear by.
(By the way, some of the links below are affiliate links, which just means I earn a small profit if you purchase my recommendations.)
Essential Garden Tools List
Thes are the tools and supplies I consider essential to the kitchen garden trade:
- gloves with rubber palms
- spacing ruler
- small rake
- hand broom
- hori hori
- harvest basket
- garden tool caddy
- watering can or hose
- plant tags
- garden mesh
Now let's look at how you can best use each of these items in your kitchen garden. I'll give you some recommendations in case you're shopping for yourself or another gardener.
Gloves are first on my garden tools must-have list
Gardeners have been arguing about whether it’s better to wear gloves or feel the soil between your bare hands since time immemorial. I have super dry skin, so I like to protect my hands with gardening gloves. It's also a good idea to wear gloves whenever you're handling weeds or certain plants like okra that can irritate your skin.
My favorite gloves are made by Bamboo, and I like them because they hold up really well, they have elastic around the wrist, and they protect my fingers from thorns and spikes thanks to the rubber palms—all without making my hands feel sweaty and gross. They're inexpensive and come in three different sizes.
Shop My Favorite Gardening Gloves
These garden gloves are cool and comfortable thanks to a breathable knit liner and a flexible rubber palm coating. They have a great grip wet or dry.
- Machine washable
- Made with rayon and bamboo
- Come in small, medium, and large
Dibbers are the best garden tools to dig holes
Dibbers are my go-to tool for planting seeds in the garden because they produce nice, tidy holes where you need them. The dibber I use most often has inches marked on the side to help with spacing and to show you how deep to bury a seed. Most seeds don’t need to be buried all that deep, especially tiny ones like lettuce and radish, so a dibber ensures you sow something at its optimal depth for germination.
This short video shows the different types of dibbers and their uses in the garden. (Can you tell I collect dibbers?)
Seed Spacing Ruler
A spacing ruler is an important tool for planting seeds
I have a wooden planting ruler that marks centimeters and millimeters and has little holes every inch to aid seed sowing. Watch me put this ruler to use while sowing spinach seeds in this short video.
Other spacing tools you might find useful are multi-hole dibbers that help you evenly space out seed holes and plant in a straight line.
The green tools pictured above are seed dispensers. You can adjust the dial based on the size of the seed you're planting so that the dispenser only releases one seed at a time (at least in theory; mine often gives me two or three). The red and white tool is a seed injector. Either of these tools could be useful if you have arthritis in your hands or difficulty separating teeny tiny seeds.
Shop My Favorite Planting Ruler
Take the guesswork out of seed spacing with this 12" handy ruler made of English Beech wood. Amazingly useful, this ruler has 12 sowing holes, metric and imperial gradations, plus printed vegetable spacing guides.
A small rake helps level the surface of a raised bed
I prefer no-till gardening methods, which means I cut at the soil level when I’m pulling out plants to avoid overly disturbing my soil. But before I plant something new, I do like to remove the debris (old leaves, pebbles, snail shells, etc.) from the top of my beds and level the surface. Keeping the soil free of debris is an important step in organic pest control.
A hand broom cleans up garden messes
I make enough of a mess in my own garden, but after we install beds for my clients, there’s soil everywhere. It’s hard to present a brand new garden when there’s dirt covering every surface! I use a little hand broom to sweep along the edges of the beds and across the stepping stones to tidy up after myself.
A hori hori is a garden tool with many uses
This little gem is like three tools rolled into one. It’s basically the Swiss Army Knife of planting. It has a spike to help you break ground easily, which is especially great if you’re working with harder soil. It’s got measurements along its side to help you know how deep you’re planting, and it even has a little pruning saw to cut a stem or a piece of twine.
I love how easy it is to dig a small hole in my garden with my hori hori without disturbing neighboring plants to transplant seedlings or herbs. ("Hori hori" is the onomatopoeia for the digging sound in Japanese.) I also use the spike to create a furrow in the ground when I’m sowing things like beans.
Honestly, if you have a good hori hori, there's not much need for a trowel or little shovel.
Shop Our Favorite Hori Hori
With its serrated, razor-sharp blade, this tool is suitable for digging or cutting through roots and tough soil. The knife is made of high-quality steel with an ash wood grip. The sheath enables you to wear the knife on your gardening tool belt. To maintain the tool, please clean after using and store dry.
Pruners are must-have garden tools for beginners
I recommend having at least three different pruners. The first, and most important pruner for the kitchen garden, is a needlenose pruner, which allows you to get into the plant’s interior to cut just what you want and to harvest carefully.
The second is a larger pruner to use on really big plants or to cut through thick stems.
Lastly, you need a tiny pair of pruners, or pocket snips, to harvest lettuce greens or microgreens.
It's also a great idea to have a good pair of precision pruners, which should be kept nice and sharp for cutting vines and stems.
Harvest Basket or Trug
A beautiful harvest basket is a garden must-have you'll look forward to using
There are few things more rewarding in the garden than filling a harvest basket with things you've just cut from your garden.
A tool caddy is the ideal storage for garden tools
A steel trug or some kind of tool caddy will store your favorite garden tools when you're not using them. No need to hide this container in a garage, where your tools will rust; you'll want to display it.
Another option for storing your tools would be a tool bag or a tool belt that you could hang up and keep all your tools safe inside.
Watering Can or Hose
A watering can or hose is an essential garden tool
Consistent watering is key to success in the kitchen garden. If you don't have an irrigation system set up, you'll need to water by hand when you haven't received rain. I like this extra large watering can from Williams Sonoma or this Haws Watering Can from Shop Terrain.
A rain gauge can help you know when to water.
If you'd rather use a hose, this heritage garden hose from Terrain is super durable and available in a fun array of colors. This push-button nozzle fits the heritage garden hose for convenient watering.
Shop our Deluxe Garden Tool Set
This package includes our favorite garden tools, including a hori hori knife (which is basically a knife, a saw, and a digging tool wrapped into one), a hand leaf rake, a dibber, bypass pruners, a dustpan and broom set, jute rope, and 10 complimentary zinc hairpin labels.
Plant tags mark planting areas
I'll remember where I planted those seeds is one of the many lies we gardeners tell ourselves. And then we double-plant or—even worse, in my opinion—leave spaces with nothing planted.
This is where plant tags, plant labels, and plant markers come in handy. Not only can they serve a very useful function in our garden spaces, they can also bring a little personality, even charm. (I've rounded up my favorites here.)
Twine has many uses in the kitchen garden
Twine can be used to tie vining plants like tomatoes to the trellis. Twine made of natural fibers like jute is strong enough to hold plants securely without damaging the delicate vines. Similarly, twine can help you stake and support large bush plants like peppers when they're supporting lots of heavy fruit.
Twine can be used to hang herbs and cut flowers up to dry.
When you're planting, you can stretch twine between two stakes and create your own planting line to help you work in a straight row. If you're growing peas, you could run several rows of twine back and forth to give the little tendrils something to grab onto as soon as they sprout.
Shop Our Copper-Clad Deluxe Tool Package
This tool collection includes a copper-plated transplanter (a great tool for removing weeds with taproots), copper-plated pruners, a copper-plated hand rake, a planting line with jute twine, a hygrometer, a string dispenser, and copper-plated plant tags.
Garden mesh or ag fab is the best garden tool for organic pest control
Garden mesh fabric is strong and created specifically for pest protection. Honestly though, I've also just bought some tulle cloth from a fabric store and had lots of success using it.
You can find garden mesh, garden netting, and ag fabric at your local garden center (or you can head to your nearest fabric store). These are simple physical barriers that let water, sunlight, and air in, but keep pests out—and you'll be amazed just how effective they can be. The key is to use them from the very moment you plant seeds or seedlings.
Learn more about this easy form of organic pest control.
Scissors and Snips
A pair of dedicated scissors for the garden is a must
Scissors can cut twine, help you thin seedlings at their base to avoid disturbing nearby roots, and harvest herbs and microgreens.
I have several pairs of scissors I use exclusively for gardening. I also have a special pair of herb scissors in the kitchen that I bring out with me to the garden when I'm harvesting greens for my salad bowl so that I can cut up herbs as I go and toss them straight into a colander to rinse and enjoy.
A Few More...
Different types of garden tools
In addition to the tools above, I recommend having the following on hand depending on your climate:
My favorite garden tools brands
Garden tools gifts ideas
I've compiled a list of the best gifts for the gardeners in your life for all budgets. Whether your gift recipient is a beginner gardener or a plant master, here are garden goodies they're sure to love.
How to clean rusted garden tools
After every use, I wipe my pruners and scissors down with rubbing alcohol and make sure that any garden debris is removed before storing them. It's best to store your tools in a cool, dry place.
If you notice rust starting to form on your garden tools, you have two options.
One, you can soak the tools overnight in equal parts vinegar and water, then wipe them down with a hard-bristled brush or steel wool. Or two, you can apply Bar Keepers Friend and leave the tools to sit for a bit. Either way, make sure to then clean them with dish soap, rinse well, and hang to dry. Mineral oil or WD-40 can help keep tools functioning well once rust has been removed.
Equally important to removing rust is keeping your tools sharp. Hardware stores like Ace Hardware will sharpen dull garden tools for you.
My top three garden tools and their uses
If I could, for whatever reason, only have three tools in my kitchen garden, I would keep my needlenose pruner, my hori hori, and my dibber. Those three tools cover all of my harvesting, pruning, digging, cutting, and planting needs.
So those are my tools of the kitchen gardening trade. I like anything that can make my life a little simpler and easier, don’t you? Whether you’re a gloves-on- or gloves-off-kind of gardener, I hope you can get outside soon and put some of these tools to good use!