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When I first started gardening, I had no idea what supplies I needed so I read dozens of lists and guides. To my surprise, however, none of them were really what I was really looking for, so that’s why I wrote this article now that I have several years of experience as a gardener and know what you actually need.
The only supplies that are necessary for gardening are pruning shears, garden gloves, soil, seeds, and water. While tools such as shovels, rakes, loppers, and spades can make certain gardening activities much easier, they are not necessities for most beginner gardeners.
While these are the only things you literally must have, there are some tools and supplies I really really recommend you get from the beginning.
I have done my best to explain what gardening tools and supplies you absolutely must get from the beginning as well as what supplies and tools are good to have but not actually needed before you get some more experience and needs. That way you should be able to find out which ones fit your level of experience and which ones you can skip for now.
In this post, I explain why I think gardening can be done with very few supplies and what supplies you should get from the beginning. I also give some specific recommendations. In addition to that, I describe some basic tools that you should consider getting as soon as you decide you like gardening and some tools that are intended for more experienced gardeners or more specific purposes.
What Supplies Do You Need When Starting a Garden?
There are several supplies and tools that almost every gardener uses and if you are sure about what you want and need, then definitely go for it. But if you are just starting and you want to figure out if gardening is for you, there are only very few supplies that you absolutely need.
Every beginner gardener should have these supplies:
- Gardening soil
- Gardening gloves
- Pruning shears
- Containers (optional)
- Support for plants (depends)
Gardening can be done with almost no supplies but you will of course need some seeds, some soil to plant them in, and some water to make them grow. Other than that, I would argue that you can get extremely far with just your hands. I did so you can definitely do it as well. It is, however, very important that you get a pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands.
I almost always use some gloves that fit the hand pretty tightly (while still being comfortable, of course) as it just makes them easier to use, in my opinion. I use and recommend some like these (link to Amazon).
In my opinion, pruning shears are also more or less crucial to have as they help you trim your plants properly without damaging them, which you often end up doing if you try to break them without pruning shears. I use these (link to Amazon) and highly recommend them.
You may want to get some tools such as a garden shovel quite early when you start gardening but you can certainly get started and plant your first couple of plants without them, as long as you are prepared to use your hands for digging. Alternatively, use a hand trowel. I use this and I am really pleased with it.
Depending on what you plant, however, you may need some specific things to take care of them but we will cover that later in this post. Feel free to skip to one of the next headlines if that is what you are looking for.
What Seeds Should You Get When Starting a Garden?
When you choose seeds, consider how much space you have and how long your growing season is. Some plants grow much faster than others and while some plants take the whole growing season before they are ready to harvest, other plants can be harvested after just a few weeks and can be planted again after that to provide you with multiple harvests in a season.
Almost all packs with seeds specify how much space, sun, and water the plants need as well as when to germinate and plant the seeds. It is always a good idea to follow these instructions as closely as possible to provide the best conditions for your plants and thereby get the best yield from them.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to get some seeds that end up as something you actually want to have in your garden.
Do You Need Specific Soil for Gardening?
Once you have your gloves and your seeds, the last two things you absolutely need before you can get started are soil and water.
Gardening soil is found in many different qualities and there are certainly good reasons to buy good quality soil but there is also no need to overspend and get the most expensive soil you can find. When you are buying soil, make sure it has a good mix of nutrients (most gardening soils do) as this will significantly improve the chances for your plants to grow well and provide you with some good harvests.
What Fertilizer to Choose When Starting a Garden?
The right fertilizer can improve your overall yield significantly. I will always recommend getting a good, organic fertilizer. You can get extremely far with a standard-sized bottle of all-round vegetable fertilizer and your plants will love you for it.
Fertilizers for vegetables and other flowering plants are usually NPK-based, meaning that they contain the three basic plant nutrients, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
What Containers are Best for New Gardeners?
If you are planting directly in the ground, you obviously don’t need containers but if you are planning on using containers, make sure you get some that are a little bit larger than what you think you need. That way your plants have plenty of room to grow and thrive.
I have bought lots of small containers and ended up having to replace them with larger ones after some time, so do yourself a favor and get some that are large enough from the beginning.
Best Plant Support for New Gardeners
Depending on what you are growing, you may need something to support your plants. Many plants can stay just fine on their own and don’t need any support but other plants might need some support.
An example of a very popular garden vegetable that often needs to be supported is tomatoes.
Tomatoes often need to be supported. Many gardeners use tomato cages but a long piece of bamboo can also be used for support. Just tie a knot around the bamboo and somewhere close to the top of the main stalk of your tomato plant but make sure the knot is not too tight so the tomato plant has room to grow.
Once you have tried gardening out and decided that you like it, there are several tools you should start considering buying.
What Are the First Tools to Buy For Your Garden?
There are some basic tools, I recommend getting very early after you start gardening since they will make so many things so much easier, faster, and safer. The tools I recommend here are tools I use all the time myself. The tools in the photo above are my own and they have helped me so much and made my gardening life so much easier.
The first gardening tools I recommend getting are:
- A small garden rake
- A small garden shovel (or hand trowel)
- A pair of pruning shears
These may be some of the most basic and simple tools for gardening but they happen to also be the tools you probably end up using the most. At least I use mine all the time.
The tools in the photo above cost me somewhere around $30-40 (for all four of them) and they have made my gardening life both much easier and much more efficient so they have without a doubt been an excellent investment for me.
If you are planting directly in the ground, all of these tools are extremely useful and will get you very far. If you are planting in containers, you probably don’t need the rake but the small shovels and especially the pruning shears will definitely come in handy.
Use garden rakes and shovels to mix and loosen the soil. Once you have prepared the soil, dig a small hole with the shovels to place your plant or seed and cover it afterward. Use pruning shears for pruning your plants and harvesting them once they are ready.
Of course, you can prepare the soil, plant your plants or seeds, and harvest without any of these tools but they just make things so much easier plus they also reduce the risk of damaging your plants.
Pruning, on the other hand, is very difficult to do properly without a pair of pruning shears. With some plants, you can easily just pinch the part that needs to be removed but with most plants, you risk damaging them if you don’t prune them properly so I highly recommend getting a pair of pruning shears very early on.
Advanced or Situational Gardening Supplies and Tools
In this section, I mention some gardening tools that are either mostly relevant for more advanced gardeners or used for some more specific purposes.
Once you become a more advanced gardener or you have some specific needs for your garden, I recommend looking at some of the following tools:
- Garden hoe
- Garden fork
- Weed remover
- Hand saw
A garden hoe, a garden fork, and a spade can help you manage large amounts of soil much easier than the small gardening rake and shovel mentioned earlier in this post. So depending on how large the area you are working with is, these could definitely be worth getting as they will save you a lot of time when loosening, mixing, and otherwise managing the soil.
As you may have guessed from the name, weed removers are great for removing weeds very easily and can save you a lot of time. One thing that makes them especially great is that some of them allow you to stand up straight while removing weeds rather than having to kneel and do so. Getting a weed remover can be an excellent thing to do for yourself and your back in the long run.
Loppers are used for pruning twigs and branches that are too thick for regular, small pruning shears so if you have some plants or trees that are just a bit too large or thick for the pruning shears, consider getting some loppers.
Sprinklers can make watering much easier and wheelbarrows can be excellent for moving large amounts of soil at the same time, but they are only really relevant if you are working with a large area, in my opinion.
If you are just getting started, most of these tools and supplies are probably overkill and you will most likely be just fine with a rake, a shovel, and some pruning shears but once you get more into gardening and your needs become more advanced or specific, you can consider getting some of the tools listed in this last section.
I have written another post where I go more into detail with the price of each of the tools and supplies you need for gardening so you can know how much you should expect to spend when starting as well as over the years as you become more advanced. You can find that post on this link.