Secateurs and other tools laid out
When choosing gardening equipment and tools, there is a wide variety of models and brand names. Following our hints and tips should keep things simple and avoid expensive mistakes.
Yellow hand fork with wrist support
A gardener using a trowel with arm support

Any adapted tools you need for gardening will depend on what you like to do and your specific health needs.

The best way to make sure you only buy what you need is to only search for and buy tools as you need them. Don't invest in a cordless, telescopic pruner if you are not planning to prune tall plants!

This website is designed to help you think about what you need. Every gardening activity has a ‘what you need’ list of tools and equipment near the top. This is broken down as follows:

  • Essential items. These are the tools needed to do the task. We try to include the ones most often found in people’s homes and sheds.
  • Optional items. These are ones that could be useful, but you can always do without.
  • Tools to make it easier. These include specialist and adapted tools and items that may make each task easier. There are also every day items that can help.

Some gardeners will be able to work well using a few well-honed tools. Others will gather a wider selection to enable them to carry out the work. This is much in the same way different kitchens have varying levels of utensils!

When we share tools to make it easier, we are not trying to make life expensive. Where possible, we try and suggest common household items that can be useful. For example, cooking flour can be mixed with seeds before sowing.

We also imagine you may have developed methods and ideas of your own for certain tasks. Gardening rewards invention and it’s hard to go very wrong when working with plants. Do take the time to find what tools and methods you feel comfortable using. This way, you can get the most from your time in your garden.

I like tools! I enjoy pottering around the shed.

Jack, home gardener

With some core gardening activities, there are lots of possible tools to choose between. In our article guides we look at the different tools available and which may be most suitable. These include:

There is often more than one tool that could do the job. For example, defining a lawn edge can be done using a spade, half-moon edger or a hoe. We will always try and direct you to tools that you will more commonly have to hand. At the same time, we always think about what might suit individual needs for each specific task.

If you have a specific health condition, some tools may make time in the garden easier and more comfortable. We have a growing number of dedicated articles that include advice on tools. These include:

Can't find what you're looking for? Please email us at info@thrive.org.uk and we will be happy to try to help.

Top tip

Tools mentioned across this website should be readily available from garden centres, DIY shops and online. Sometimes, specialist tools are taken off the market sooner than we would like! We try to ensure any item mentioned is likely to be available for the foreseeable future.

A hoe used for weeding and sowing
A hoe used for weeding a bed

1. Try before you buy

It helps if you can try products out before you buy. Consider the weight of the product, your grip size and strength, and how balanced the item feels in your hand.

Lightweight items with wide handles are usually easiest to grip. Try it out in your hand, particularly if you have small hands, a weak grip, any hand pain or limited movement.

2. Consider ergonomic tools for comfort

You can find ergonomic versions of many garden tools, particularly hand tools. Many of these have handles designed to reduce hand and wrist strain. This makes every day gardening jobs more comfortable to do.

Some long-handled tools have a T-bar style handle. This can make the tool easier to get a grip, particularly if you have dexterity issues.

Your gardening tip

"It's important to find the right tool length for you. Tools are still largely designed for men, so shop around. I've found Darlac, Wolf and Wilkinson Sword have made better adjusted tools of late."

- survey respondent, gardening and lung conditions

3. Think about the material

Check the material the product is made of is right for the job. For example, stainless steel tools slide through soil more easily and are easy to clean. Traditional solid forged steel tools are the strongest, as well as being quite light and long lasting. Plastic, carbon fibre and aluminium tools are usually lightest.

4. Look for signs of quality

It can sometimes be hard to tell which is the highest quality product. Think about spare parts and servicing if needed, along with how long the manufacturer’s guarantee lasts.

5. Be cautious with power tools

Power tools are a good option for many jobs, including trimming hedges and cutting grass. Products can be battery or mains powered. Check you can cope with the weight. Always use a residual circuit breaker with mains powered products.

6. Consider interchangeable head tools

Tool ranges with interchangeable heads can be very useful. Choose a handle which is the right length for you and then buy whichever separate heads you need. This could include a rake, brush, trowel or fork. To use, you simply click the handle and relevant tool head together.

These are more expensive to buy than standard items but are usually good quality. If you have challenges with dexterity, you may find changing heads a bit tricky.

7. Look at handle length vs posture

When choosing tools with long handles, check you can use it without bending too much and that you can keep your back straight. Good posture when gardening will help prevent stresses and strains.

8. Think about extra support

You can find extra supports to make tools more comfortable to use. These include:

  • Add-on handles for a more comfortable arm position
  • Arm support cuff to help with arm strength
  • Back saving tool grips to reduce bending

Help us continue to make gardening accessible for all. Make a donation to Thrive today. Thank you.

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