Best Garden Tools and Gifts
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16 Gardening Must-Haves for Anyone With a Green Thumb

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Best Garden Tools and Gifts
adamkaz/istockphoto

Spring Is in the Air

We all may be socially distancing ourselves this spring, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get outside and tend to our gardens — or introduce a friend to the joys of gardening. Cheapism reached out to professional horticulturalists, botanical gardens, and gardening enthusiasts to recommend some of their favorite garden tools and gifts for that green-thumbed person in your life. Best of all, most items cost about $30 or less.

Note: Prices and availability are subject to change.

Related: 15 Foods You Can Grow in a Container Garden

Nejiri Hoe
Amazon

Nejiri Hoe

Price: $18 from Amazon
Buy It
A garden hoe is essential for trenching, tilling, and weeding soil. Full-sized hoes are great for cultivating larger gardens, especially rows of veggies, but they’re overkill for small beds. “Many standard hoes behave more like cultivators, stirring up weed seeds and giving them an opportunity to sprout,” Sherie Blumenthal writes on the Farmers' Almanac website. “The Nejiri hoe’s sharp blade skims the surface of the soil quickly, eliminating shallow-rooted weeds without disturbing the soil or bringing up the unwanted weed seeds.”

Pruning Shears
Amazon

Pruning Shears

Price: $19 from Amazon
Buy It
“Cutting and pruning is a daily outdoor chore, and if your tool is heavy, awkward, or just plain worn out, then it’s time for an upgrade,” says Richard Reina, product training director at ToolsID.com. If you’ve got limited hand strength, Reina recommends these Fiskars Softgrip pruning snips for trimming, deadheading, shaping, and other quick snips on plants. Manual sheep shears are another option, says Jen Smock, manager of landscapes horticulture at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. They “are useful for spring garden clean-up cutting back grasses and various other perennials.” Although pricey, the Felco F2 pruning shears also come highly recommended.

Pruning Saw
Walmart

Pruning Saw

Price: $64 from Walmart
Buy It
Pruning shears are all well and good until you’re up against serious shrubbery and tree branches. “I can't recommend a good pruning saw enough,” says Tyson Gregory, a horticulturist with the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus, Ohio. “I personally own the Silky Zubat 300 pruning saw and it is one of my favorite specialty tools that I have in my toolbox. I can cut through a 6-inch diameter branch in under 30 seconds with this saw, all while leaving a very smooth and clean cut (important for the tree's ability to heal over the wound).”

Cordless Drill
Amazon

Cordless Drill

Price: $44 and up from Amazon
Buy It
A drill for gardening? Yes, says Jack Adams of ToolsOwner.com. “One of the most important things that I can’t live without is a cordless drill.” Building raised beds? Use the drill for pilot holes and driving screws. Attach a weeding auger bit to clear stubborn weeds and grasses, then pop in a drilling auger to create rows of neat holes for seedlings. You can even use your cordless drill to pump water, Adams says.

Related: Lowe's vs. Home Depot: Which Has Better Prices and Services?

Garden Tool Storage Scooter
Amazon

Garden Tool Storage Scooter

Price: $40 from Amazon
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Tools that can be used for more than one purpose are always a good idea, and this scooter doubles as a gardening stool. “What's great about this stool is that it's easy to move around since it has wheels and has space for storage,” says Steven Wood, owner of DIY website SwankyDen.com. “This way you can have everything you need right beside you as you move throughout the backyard working on the plants.”

Garden Rocker
Amazon

Garden Rocker

Price: $60 from Amazon
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All that bending and kneeling can be murder on your back and knees, as any gardener will tell you. Knee pads are one answer, but the pros we spoke with say a garden stool is a better alternative. The Vertex Garden Rocker is one option, says Leslie Uppinghouse, a horticulturist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. “It helps me keep my back straight,” she tells Wildflower, the center’s bimonthly magazine. By sitting and rocking, you’re not sprawled out on hands and knees, at risk of knocking into sensitive small plants.

Garden Cart
Amazon

Garden Cart

Price: $39 from Amazon
Buy It
Whether you’re toting tools or hauling away yard debris, a garden cart can be useful for larger yards. A 15.5-gallon plastic cart like this one is big enough to haul a load of mulch or logs for an outdoor fire pit, and most owners say it’s easy to assemble and to pull along. Need something more substantial? The carts made by Carts Vermont, another Wildflower Center favorite, can haul up to 400 pounds of yard debris. And because they’re built of treated plywood and with a welded steel frame, the carts are easy to repair as they wear.

Circle Hoe
Amazon

Circle Hoe

Price: $25 from Amazon
Buy It
This tool (and its cousin the hula hoe) is another gardener favorite for small spaces, says Blumenthal of the Farmers’ Almanac. “Unlike the hula hoe, the circular hoe doesn’t swivel, but it still cuts off weeds without moving the soil. It can also be used as a cultivator. It is best around and under foliage of your plants, and in tight rows,” she says.

Gardening Gloves
Amazon

Gardening Gloves

Price: $10 from Amazon
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It may seem like a no-brainer, but something as simple as a pair of gardening gloves can make all the difference when you’re digging in the dirt. Leather and canvas are the most durable materials, but bamboo-fiber gloves with grippy palms like these are perfectly adequate for most tasks, owners say. If you’re tending to roses or other thorny plants, look for gloves with extra-long gauntlets that reach the elbow. “Keeping your hands protected from injuries such as cuts, blisters, and splinters while gardening should be a priority because your hands will be your most precious tools in the garden. Gardening gloves will not only help prevent such injuries but it will also keep your hands clean and protected from UV rays,” says Peter Miller, founder of Gardening Stuffs.

Garden Hose Nozzle
Amazon

Garden Hose Nozzle

Price: $6 from Amazon
Buy It
Large yards and gardens need regular watering, especially during the dry summer months. A garden hose is useful, Miller says, but it’s the nozzle — ideally, one with multiple spray settings from a gentle mist to a powerful jet of water — that makes all the difference. “We all know that water is essential for plants. But watering incorrectly could do more harm than good. Using a garden hose with a nozzle can help you regulate the water’s flow and make watering your garden breezy and more efficient.”

Watering Can
Amazon

Watering Can

Price: $28 and up from Amazon
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Hoses are handy but may be overkill if you live in an apartment or only have a small garden, says Gena Lorainne, gardening expert at Fantastic Services in the United Kingdom. “A watering can will be enough,” she says. For indoor houseplants, a 1-gallon watering can will do; for larger plants, look for a 2- or 3-gallon can.

Related: 11 Tips for a Flourishing Indoor Garden

Hori-Hori Knife
Amazon

Hori-Hori Knife

Price: $23 from Amazon
Buy It
Another handy tool for weeding, hori-hori knives come recommended by several of the gardeners we spoke with, including both Chip Tynan and Jen Smock of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. Use the knife’s serrated edge for cutting vines and tough twigs, then flip it over and use the smooth blade to cut twine or open a bag of mulch. The concave blade, useful for digging, is marked in inches and centimeters for planting so those seeds are always sowed at the correct depth.

Related: Beautiful Botanical Gardens in All 50 States

Box Claw Weed Puller
Amazon

Box Claw Weed Puller

Price: $46 from Amazon
Buy It
Tearing up part of the yard for a new garden plot? You’ll tear out your hair in frustration if you’re only using a shovel or hoe to remove sun-baked sod and soil (trust us on this one). The twisted spikes on this Yard Butler Twist Tiller box claw can rip out grass, uproot weeds, fish out stones and debris, and aerate soil — just sink, twist, and pull.

A Good Sun Hat
Amazon

A Good Sun Hat

Price: $21 and up from Amazon
Buy It
Remember what your mom used to say when you ran outside to play? Cover your head! A baseball cap or bandana will do the trick, but to maximize sun protection look for a hat with a wide brim all the way around to shade your ears and neck, too. This unisex Columbia booney hat’s moisture-wicking, textured nylon poplin fabric is treated to provide the equivalent of SPF 50 protection and comes in eight colors.

Sunscreen
Amazon

Sunscreen

Price: $13 from Amazon
Buy It
Even if you’re wearing long sleeves and a floppy hat, you’re still working outside in the sun. Protect your skin and use sunscreen. No-Ad sunscreen is one of Cheapism’s picks for best cheap sunscreen. It may not be as well-known as some brands, but it's a veteran with more than 50 years on the market. As the name suggests, the company doesn't advertise, which helps keep costs low.

A Good Book … or Several
Amazon

A Good Book … or Several

Price: $8 and up from Amazon
Buy It
After a day working in the yard, spend an hour or two of your evening tending to your inner garden with a good book. The bookworms at the Wildflower Center love reading about (what else?) gardening and growing. Jacqueline Kelly’s “The Education of Calpurnia Tate,” the tale of an 11-year-old girl exploring the world around her in 1899 Texas will delight any child or adult with a love of nature. Other staff favorites include “Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World” by Julia Rothman, and “The Triumph of Seeds” by Thor Hanson. Among his many favorites, Tyson Gregory recommends “Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes” by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West. Lastly, Chip Tynan at the Missouri Botanical Garden also recommends “Nature’s Best Hope,” by Douglas Tallamy — “buy and gift as many copies as you can afford of the book,” he says.