You love getting your hands dirty, but there’s no reason to take that sentiment to the extreme. There are many options for gardening tools at your local plant nursery—how can you know which ones you really need and which ones will be left collecting dust in the garage? There are only a few essential items that every gardener absolutely needs. Just like pruning and deadheading, it’s time to trim the fat and get down to basics.

Pruning shears are a must when the blades are sharp and they’re small in size. Go for a lightweight model for pruning perennials. Great brands include Corona and Felco, but whatever works best for you is going to be the “best pruning shears.” Consider what’s in your garden (ahem, how tough some of those plants are), how much weight you really want to carry around and shop accordingly.

millcreek gardens nursery pruning shears gardening tools

A Little Off the Top

Scissors are another essential for snips and pruning, and you don’t need anything special. Regular household scissors often do the trick for cutting herbs, opening potting soil, cutting strings or slicing open seed packets. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need “gardening scissors” for the simplest of tasks. There might come a time when they’re necessary, such as harvesting vegetables, but for the average gardener that extra pair in the junk drawer will work just fine.

Other times, you’ll be facing a tough job and only a saw will suffice. A fixed-blade traditional “pull to cut” saw with a light curve is great for thicker branches. You can get a clean, fast cut through even the biggest limbs. This can also be used for cutting down smaller trees. Saws are especially important for bigger projects or if you’re seriously revamping the yard.

Well Groomed

A shovel and a rake are to gardening what your comb and brush are to getting ready for a night out. Sharpshooters are great, compact shovels featuring a narrow blade that is perfect for deeper holes. Even better, it can be sharpened. This means that once you invest in a quality gardening shovel, it’ll last for life. “Regular” shovels aren’t designed for planting. As for rakes, you may need a few (shrubs, removing leaves and moving mulch all require different rakes).

Lastly, a weeder can be your secret weapon. Also dubbed “dandelion diggers,” they make pulling up weeds simple. This task is nobody’s favorite, so don’t spend any more time on it than necessary. Get in and out quickly, making a dirty job not so dirty after all.