Frugal Garden Hand Tools – A Guide

Garden Tool manufacturers seem to have taken the lead from Kitchen Tool companies who have a gadget for everything and most of these are quite unnecessary. For example, I’ve tried loads of gadgets to make sowing small seeds easier. None of them worked, for me at least, as well as licking the end of a pencil and using that to pick up individual seeds.

Garden Hand Tools

Sneerboer Garden Mattock & Fork from Harrod Horticulture

Basic Garden Hand Tools

Your basic kit consists of a spade, fork, rake, hoe, shears, secateurs and hand trowel. There’s not much you can’t do with that kit although there are some extra tools that are useful like loppers, lawn rake and edger. My favourite is the Wolf hoe on one side and prongs on the other hand tool.

This is where value for money comes in. Do we buy cheap and replace perhaps more often or do we spend extra and get longer distance out of it. Or does it really matter!
If you’re just a tinkering/tidy up gardener, a hand trowel and hand fork from the local ‘Pound Shop’ would probably be quite sufficient.

But for those of us who spend a lot of time gardening, it is worth going that extra mile and buying some decent stainless steel, good crafted wooden handle types.

These would be about five to ten times the price of the plastic cheapies, but are better to feel, easier to use and will last a lot longer. Quality tools really are worth it.

If you can find garden hand tools second hand, then that’s the way to go. My favourite hoe is over 50 years old. A bit tatty maybe, but as efficient as the day it was made. Car boot sales tend to be the best source for second hand garden tools but do check the quality. Forks with bendy tines, spades with splits and any tool with a loose handle are not worth buying. Of all the garden hand tools, spades and forks are the most used and need to be good.

Secateurs and loppers

Secateurs and loppers are items which should be cheapskate free. There is nothing worse  than making a day free to tidy up your plants to find the secateurs have rusted, or the spring won’t take them back to cutting position.

Stainless steel for secateurs is good and for loppers, good PTFE coated blades are recommended. There are two types of Loppers; ratchet (more strength in cutting but need to be opened up more or By-Pass with blades similar to a giant secateurs).


Don’t forget a wheelbarrow though, for any serious gardening you’ve got to have a wheelbarrow. Don’t bother with DIY stores or any of those fancy barrows they keep pushing as the best thing since sliced bread. Head down to a proper builder’s merchant and get the same type they use with a pneumatic tyre. They’re better balanced, longer lived and usually cheaper as well.

Gadgets versus Real Garden Hand Tools

There are many ‘gadget’ type devices such as tools for scraping out the crannies between paving slabs – a good alternative is an old kitchen knife! Then there’s prettily designed kneeling pads, when an old piece of rubber backed carpet folded over will suffice!

Once you have all your garden hand tools all you need is a shed to put them all in! There’s an excellent range of hand tools available at Harrod Horticulture – check out the Sneeboer and Wilkinson Sword for top quality garden hand tools.

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