My 6 most used garden tools

 In Gardening tips, Tools

I’ve been gardening for most of my life. In total that’s around 60 years of gardening!

During that time I’ve had the opportunity to try out many different gardening tools and looking back there are a handful that, if I didn’t have them, I would miss more than any others.

They may seem an odd mix and to an extent they are! The current ‘must have’ ones reflect the age of my garden which is still relatively young in its development.

So which are my 6 most used garden tools?


Felco secateurs

Felco secateurs, secateurs and hands, apple pruning

Felco No. 2 secateurs

It’s vital to have a sharp and comfortable to use pair of secateurs. The Swiss made Felco brand set the standard many years ago and have always been the most desirable of all the secateur brands available.

What stands them apart from the rest is that they are ergonomically designed and built. They feel very comfortable in the hand. Naturally they cut cleanly and without undue effort. My own preferred Felco secateur model is the No.8 but for many years I used the most popular No.2.

I see that Felco now offer a budget Essential range which is presumably an effort to offer something cheaper to compete with all the Felco copy look alikes. I haven’t tried these yet and would be keen to do so.

A huge advantage with the Felco secateur is that all parts are readily replaceable and easily adjusted to ensure a clean sharp cut every time.

These secateurs also come with a lifetime warranty.

A clip-on leather holster for your secateur really ensures that you have them with you anytime you venture into the garden.

More details about the Felco range can be found here.



Hori hori

In contrast to the Felco secateur, the number two in my 6 most used garden tools is the Hori Hori.

Niwaki hori hori knife, hori hori, Japanese gardening knife

Niwaki hori hori knife and sheath [pic credit Niwaki]

At first glance this looks like a rather dangerous wide bladed knife. I must say that I had my doubts about it’s usefulness at first. However I have owned a Niwaki hori hori tool for 3 years and keep finding new uses for it!

It’s most used by me to remove weeds that I spot as I walk through the garden. It’s really good for digging out those infuriating deep rooted weeds such as dandelions or docks. But using the side of the blade its good to scoop out shallow rooted weeds too.

The sharpish edge and pointed blade can be used to open the tops of potting compost polythene bags.

With the wider than normal blade I frequently use the hori hori to make holes for planting small seedlings and plug plants.

With its belt holster this tool is almost always worn whenever I venture into the garden and consequently gets used an awful lot.

photo credit ; Niwaki



Chillington hoe

This tool choice might come as a surprise to you! But I do use the Chillington hoe a lot!

Hoe on grass, Chillington hoe

Chillington hoe or hack

The Chillington hoe is an extra heavy and large blade hoe. It is sold and used by the thousands in the third world.

However I have found it especially useful in taming what was a very unkempt plot but now resembles a garden!

The weight of the blade enables me to remove nettles, coarse tufts of grass, thistles and many other tough weeds. I find that this heavy hoe is also good for levelling soil.

In the veg patch it is the perfect tool for earthing up potato mounds.

But I have found that a short handled version is especially good for planting small and medium sized plants. I’ve used it a lot to plant bare root and pot grown herbaceous perennials. I’ve also used it to plant annual flowers and vegetable young plants too!

hoe on bare earth, heavy hoe with short handle

Short handle heavy hoe

It is possible to buy a shorter handle heavy hoe like the one that Monty Don uses. But I was fortunate in finding a suitable

hoe and shortened the handle of it.





Darlac Cape Cod weeder

Cape cod weeder, Darlac hoe, bamboo weeder

Darlac Cape Cod weeder

With a bamboo handle this is a great little weeding tool! It is perfect to remove smaller weeds between plants without damaging those that you want to keep.

The Cape Cod weeder is part of the Darlac bamboo range of tools. There are other really useful hand tools to consider in this range. But I find that this is the tool that I reach for most often.

The bamboo handle is smooth, well made and fits the hand well. It’s also a very durable material.

The Cape Cod weeder comes into its own to remove recently germinated weed seedlings growing between rows of vegetables. It works best when those weeds that have been hoed dry out quickly and die in situ.




Stainless steel spade

Stainless steel spade, garden spade, man digging with a spade

Stainless steel spade

Perhaps the most obvious choice in my 6 most used garden tools, the stainless steel spade is a must!

Of course there are lots of different spades to choose from and I am not necessarily recommending a particular one. However mine is a Kent and Stowe spade and it is a pleasure to use it! You’ll find this brand widely available and easy to obtain.

For me the important thing is that the spade is comfortable to use. It must have a long enough handle so that I don’t have to stoop too much. [I am over 6ft high]. The angle of the blade to the handle needs to be right and that is best ‘felt’ by testing in store. The top of the blade [where you put your foot] should not be so sharp that it cuts through your wellies.

But most important of all is that it should be stainless steel! Keeping a forged steel spade clean and shiny is a bore and something I fail at. After just a day of not being used the rust spots start to appear. Before you know it that blade is rough and soil sticks to it necessitating regular scraping.



Aluminium greenhouse

Is this a tool? I think that it is is! And so it’s definitely one of my most used 6 garden tools!

aluminium greenhouse, glasshouse, Robinsons greenhouse

Robinsons aluminium greenhouse

My aluminium greenhouse is 8ft by 10ft and has extra non-standard ventilation. The reason I stipulated extra ventilation is that in my view domestic greenhouse almost always have too little. Ideally I believe that the equivalent of at least 20% of the floor area of a greenhouse should open! So I have two roof vents and two end louvered vents.

My greenhouse also has two rather than one sliding door. This is a legacy of when we used to present a gardening TV show. The two doors allowed room for two cameras on tripods to film whatever we were doing. One camera filmed the close-up and the other the wide angle. Both camera operators had to stand outside in the rain when necessary! But they were not alone as they had the producer, her PA and sound recordist all out there getting wet!

This extra door gave me the extra ventilation that I wanted for high summer temperatures.

The greenhouse was supplied to us by Winchester based manufacturers of fine glasshouses Robinsons Greenhouses.

A greenhouse has many uses. It’s a place to start off seeds and root cuttings. And it’s a place to grow earlier or later crops than you can outside. It is somewhere to overwinter tender plants and protect them from winter cold and wet. It can be a place to dry and sort home collected seeds. I ripen my shallots and onions in the greenhouse. And it’s a place to simply potter when the weather isn’t so good outside!


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