8 essential gardening tools and their uses

8 essential gardening tools and their uses

You don’t need many tools to garden successfully. I suggest what to look for and why these 8 are my favourites. I am not on commission and have no affiliation fee for any except for the dibber which I designed.
I just want to show you the most efficient, easy way to use these helpful tools.

00:00 Introduction to using tools in the garden
01:10 A spade – useful for digging out roots, planting trees
01:33 …in comparison to a shovel
01:53 Looking at two shovels – one plastic, one metal – and comparing their respective qualities
04:02 A fork prong / manure fork – I demonstrate how to use when moving compost
05:39 A hoe – when and why you would need to use one
06:48 A look at different types of hoe – I should you my preference and explain why
09:26 A trowel – I explain and demonstrate its two main uses: removing top roots of perennial weeds, and planting (eg potatoes, and pot plants such as kale)
13:30 The benefits of a copper trowel
14:20 A rake – I demonstrate how to use one for levelling the surface of a bed, and how it can be used to disturb weed seedlings
16:10 Different types of rake, and the benefits of using one similar to mine
16:44 A word on keeping tool handles clean!
17:20 One of my favourite tools – a long -handled dibber – and a look at two types
18:50 I demonstrate how to use the dibber to make holes for transplanting
21:13 The smallest tool of all – a folding pocket-knife; I show you my preference, and demonstrate how I sharpen it with a sharpening stone
23:35 A final word on tools, and distributors *see links in description below*

UK distributor of my long handled dibber https://www.gardenimports.co.uk/product/charles-dowding-long-handled-ash-dibber/?v=79cba1185463
USA & Canada distributor of my long handled dibber https://allaboutthegarden.com
Gorilla plastic shovel https://www.buildworld.co.uk/merchant/gorilla-plastic-shovel-yellow-1-piece-indestructible-a3-1148
Copper tools from Implementations https://implementations.co.uk/shop/

See this earlier video about Tools and Techniques in my no dig garden https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ic0LrNBuSi4

And this one on transplanting techniques: https://youtu.be/JvWSaiMKJx4

Filmed and edited by Alessandro Vitale @spicymoustache at Homeacres 24th March 2022, temperate climate zone 8.

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  1. TenTen ⚡️ on April 16, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    Do you have a good method for remembering where all the hand pruners are? 😂
    I must have a million of them but couldn’t produce one if asked.

  2. Garden grower on April 16, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    If you cover cropped with mustard how did you mix it in without digging?

  3. azam shakoor on April 16, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    Sir Charles like always amazing tips n tricks when it comes to gardening no dig way 👍 pleasure to watch your videos 👍🇮🇳❤️

  4. Kerry L on April 16, 2022 at 6:08 pm

    My favourite dibber is a short one (at the moment) which is the handle of a hand fork or trowel with the end missing! Favourite dibber for transplanting seedlings is an old small bamboo cane for possibly a house plant – it has shrunk over the years but still works fine because roots don’t stick to it as much as wooden dibbers and the plastic ones are too chunky. I do have the Implementations hand fork and trowel and they have been super over quite a few years now – thanks for that!

  5. Cards by Maaike on April 16, 2022 at 6:11 pm

    i have a copper trowel, had it for 15 years, use it to plant and to take weeds out like you say. I’ve looked at the spades and others but thought I would startt with the one ( small one small price) then never got more, but they’re fabulous in clay as the clay doesn’t stick as much to it as normal spades

  6. Janna Overstreet on April 16, 2022 at 6:12 pm

    I have some stubborn dandelions and am just not sure how to kill them . I pull, they break. I dig, I don’t get them. I hate to use weed killer. Any ideas.

  7. Ruby Quiñonez on April 16, 2022 at 6:13 pm

    mister charlie tu lo haces ver tan facil, pero a la hora de trasplantar se extresan mis plantitas!..como le puedo hacer sin perder mi fe de que se lleguen a perder mas de una?abrzo de OSO fuerte,el uso de cada herramienta es muy util…muchas gracias😊

  8. Rudi Cordeiro on April 16, 2022 at 6:14 pm


  9. total ninguno on April 16, 2022 at 6:14 pm

    Muchas gracias por los subtítulos en español, Dios los bendiga 🙏

  10. davhutton on April 16, 2022 at 6:15 pm

    The first hoe, the one you pondered over, is a furrow hoe – used to make, well, furrows.
    The second one is my favorite as well….. a stirrup or oscillating hoe.

    I lucked up and concocted one of my most used tools – a combination device that combines a furrow hoe, cultivator fork, dibber, and measuring stick into one!

    But you have presented the essentials, no doubt.

  11. Jim Tao on April 16, 2022 at 6:18 pm

    Hey Charles…..have you noted any weed growth after planting the kales? deeper seed brought up to the surface perhaps?

  12. Jenny Johnson on April 16, 2022 at 6:19 pm

    Gosh..I’m going to look out for a plastic shovel! I have quite small weak wrists and I find a lot of tools way too heavy for me. I’m glad I do no dig though because that sort of digging with a shovel or fork is very rare. I remove the weeds with a trowel or pull them up. I occasionally skim the surface with a hoe. Interesting vlog Charles, thankyou!

  13. Pamela Adams on April 16, 2022 at 6:22 pm

    I can’t wait to start this season off!

  14. Wende on April 16, 2022 at 6:22 pm

    I have a few tools that belonged to my grandfather, I’m 63 so hard to tell just old they are, the handles are beautiful, he was a master gardener, like you Charles. He passed when I was 2, wish I’d been able to see and remember his gardens, everyone has said how he even trained the dog to stay on the path. Enjoyed seeing what and how you use your tools.

  15. IainB on April 16, 2022 at 6:22 pm

    On long tool handles such as on hoes and rakes; most of mine are at least 50 years old and a great feature of these, which I never see in new tools, is that the handle end is slightly bulbous. This makes handling so much easier than a parallel sided shaft for a few reasons. It allows for a better grip when controlling the hoe from shoulder height, making pushing the tool easier. It aids grip on a rake when pulling and it also adds a small amount of balance. I treasure these and urge anyone who sees some at a boot sale or charity shop to give them a good home.

  16. MuDoh on April 16, 2022 at 6:26 pm

    Thank you for showing sharpening Charles. i always struggle with it. Love my copper trowel and oscillating copper hoe bought them after a recommendation from you many years ago. Have also bought them for gardening friends and had their name carved onto them. Really lovely gift. Fabulous company to work with.

  17. allon33 on April 16, 2022 at 6:27 pm

    Talk about Heavy Metals in the soil.

  18. Monica Mabel Juarez on April 16, 2022 at 6:27 pm


  19. Eddy on April 16, 2022 at 6:27 pm

    "Hoes come in many shapes and sizes", man you’ve got that right 😄

  20. No Dig Africa on April 16, 2022 at 6:30 pm

    I do believe your maths with 1 000 000 plants planted since 1983 make sense. Respect from Africa 🇿🇦

  21. Thomas Yeats on April 16, 2022 at 6:30 pm

    I got by last year with a spade, a fork, a hoe, and a springy lawn rake. Our allotments have barrows we can share if we need to move compost etc..
    Your eight essential tools, are good to know. Cheers!

  22. Diane Ladico on April 16, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    Thank you. When leveling soil or even mulch, I flip the rake over and use the flat back side for the final pass, lifting it towards the end of the area to feather it out.
    My favorite tool is a hori hori knife. My garden gets away from me so I find it very useful for getting at stubborn weeds like thistle and dandelion (lever method). It doubles as my trowel for planting transplants and bulbs, it has a serrated side for sawing through things (great for tree roots when underplanting) and was instrumental in dividing a rock-solid clump of irises. Mine has a wickedly sharp notch for cutting twine that I’ve used for trimming and pruning in a pinch, also good for roots.
    After that is a surgically-sharp small stainless shear. I use it for all my above ground harvesting, deadheading, and pruning up to a pencil thickness. Mindfulness is vital when using either as both can easily cause injury.
    I’m not always very mobile so I find a couple of multi-use tools that fit in an easy-to-carry basket works best for me.

  23. Sheila Joseph on April 16, 2022 at 6:33 pm

    Thankyou for sharing useful tips on garden tools, I use a dessert spoon had rounded wooden handle as dibber, it’s surprising what kitchen appliances one has that can make use in garden. 😄

  24. Monique🌺 on April 16, 2022 at 6:34 pm

    I’ve been doing no-dig for years but I learned so much from this video! I didn’t know I can plant potatoes without making holes! I’m not sure if harvesting is possible without digging though. 🤔 Same with garlic.
    I’m ordering your trays today from The Farm Dream in Holland. Would also buy your dibber if it was available here. Thanks again for a fantastic video Charles! 💚

  25. Saint Coemgen on April 16, 2022 at 6:34 pm

    First, all good tool advice.

    Having a good sharp knife, pocket or sheath, all the time is the most under appreciated tool in the garden. Well said.

    A few personal comments from my experience.

    Hoes: If you are bending over to use any hoe (stirrup hoe, loop hoe, scuffle hoe, etc) I suggest to get a longer handle and use the hoe across the chest method. That is, your hoe handle should be long enough to reach across your chest, left hand at waist height, right hand about at shoulder height, and pull the handle across your body. You can hoe all day long like that without back bending. Some scuffle hoes come with a pistol grip at the end, which is also a good way to hoe, also does not require bending over.

    Rusting metal: All my spades, forks, shovels, hoes, etc are steel (except for two low stress tools — one is stainless steel and one is aluminum). To keep them shinny and slick I always completely clean them after working that day and keep them dry. Soil has moisture in it, so very important to remove any and all soil from my tools to keep them from rusting. Even over night, if I do not do this cleaning, they can start to rust. Also, they will not rust if I keep using them in the season at least a few time each week. The action in the soil polishes them. If I do not use any steel tool for a week or more, I rub them down with some oil (mineral or vegetable oil — both work fine). And I never overwinter my tools without a coat of oil on them to reduce rust issues.

    Hope this helps.

  26. Jeff Martin on April 16, 2022 at 6:35 pm

    Very much enjoyed this!!!

  27. Ximena Isabel Jimenez Galindo on April 16, 2022 at 6:36 pm

    Hola Charles, teriras de mi, mis herramientas son todas pequeñas, gracias como siempre por tus didácticos y hermosos videos 🤗🇨🇱

  28. Al Natural 🌺 on April 16, 2022 at 6:36 pm

    Thanks I love the plastic shape is better . Thanks for your words and teach me many things . I learn every day more .👏👏💚💛

  29. MØNXF on April 16, 2022 at 6:38 pm

    i use wire weeders instead of the normal hoes you can make the wire weeders to fit the spacing of your plants.

  30. Kris Walter on April 16, 2022 at 6:38 pm

    Thank you, as always. Could you do an episode on watering cans? I can’t seem to find a well-made one here in the US.

  31. Irene Smith on April 16, 2022 at 6:39 pm

    Hi Charles loved the video very interesting lv Irene 😘 xx

  32. Justin Eaddy on April 16, 2022 at 6:42 pm

    I am a huge fan of my Fiskars hori hori knife/trowel. It really busts through some roots with the saw edge.

  33. MsJayLSmith on April 16, 2022 at 6:43 pm

    It’s funny how the one hoe he wasn’t too sure about is actually what I’m more familiar with.. I’ve seen the others (with the open centers), but I’m not sure we call them hoes… Or maybe we do but with a specifc name like "a ____ hoe." …. 🤷🏾‍♀️
    I would also mention, I didn’t really see them (the solid one) used for weeding. They were used to intentionally disturb the soil, usually for trenches or breaking up clumps.

  34. James Kniskern on April 16, 2022 at 6:45 pm

    I agree with the knife. I have taken to having a 3" fixed blade knife on my belt. I find that with one hand I can draw use and replace the knife in its sheath without having to fumble with opening a folding knife.
    This is especially useful when tying up brambles.

  35. New England Gardening on April 16, 2022 at 6:47 pm

    In the states they also sell aluminum versions of those plastic shovels (sometimes called grain shovels or scoops here).

  36. Terri M on April 16, 2022 at 6:48 pm

    Thank you I had no idea what a hoe was for, new to this whole gardening thing now I can tackle the little weeds that have sprouted

  37. LittlePetieWheat on April 16, 2022 at 6:49 pm

    Ever tried a Swoe? Unbeatable for weeding agility (IMHO). I use a Wolf Garten one, with the long wooden handle (170cm). Haven’t seen a copper one? Gap in the market?

  38. Stay Primal on April 16, 2022 at 6:50 pm

    FINALLY winter is over, here in Canada, and I am finally starting my first garden in my life, after a long winter of preparation. This week I cleaned the grass field behind my house of all the trash it had from the previous owners, and I am making my first beds and compost bin in the next days. No words to explain how excited I am, a bit nervous too to be honest.

    I watched all your videos literally, multiple times, during the long frigid winter, waiting for this moment to come. Thank you for all that precious information you shared with us Charles I learned so much.

  39. Iwona on April 16, 2022 at 6:51 pm

    Charles, have you ever used hori hori tool? I just got it and I haven’t gotten a chance to use it much in the garden yet but I just love it.

  40. Michael Skelton on April 16, 2022 at 6:52 pm

    I have like a knife that’s for getting weeds between paving stones. I find it quite useful for cutting roots under the soil because it has a U shaped end that grabs and cuts through roots with a thrust and then there’s a also a cutout to hook weeds and it cuts again then you pull it out…. I find it’s also pretty useful for removing weeds without disturbing the soil too much.

  41. JS Badger on April 16, 2022 at 6:52 pm

    Excellent introduction to garden tools, especially those new to gardening, as well as some detailed perspectives to the seasoned gardeners that may not have thought of certain things quite that way. Thank you so much, Charles. Very glad to have found "All About the Garden" (here in the states) so I can get myself a "Charles Dowding" dibber for my own use! I could make my own of course, but I’m happy to support such a family business as theirs. Happy growing!

  42. Antonino Muscarella on April 16, 2022 at 6:53 pm

    Grazie sempre per i tuoi utili suggerimenti. Sei il numero 1 ❤

  43. Billy Tingen on April 16, 2022 at 6:53 pm

    Charles. It’s always a pleasure joining you in the Garden. There is always something to learn and you have a magical way of pulling us in and giving us the most useful tidbits that make our Gardening Life so much better. Thank you for sharing! Best Regards!

  44. Hacga Rimman on April 16, 2022 at 6:54 pm

    13:00. "Turdy" stem. 😂. You always look so happy. Almost like you have the punchline of a joke in your head. You want to laugh. What a way to live. Enjoy your easter weekend matey!

  45. Tannenbaumgirl on April 16, 2022 at 6:55 pm

    I’ve switched my tools like shovels, spades and forks to stainless steel material….no rust, soil doesn’t stick to the tool, easy to penetrate soil!

  46. JULES22 on April 16, 2022 at 6:58 pm

    👍do you have problems with skunks or any animals eating or digging up your garden?

  47. Bambi Ileana Chandler on April 16, 2022 at 6:59 pm

    I so appreciate this info on your tools Charles. I do notice your dibbler when you use it. Here in the states I’ve never seen one. I’ll make myself one as it looks so much easier. And your knife always quick to come out when needed. These tools and the ease of using them is important to me as I get older. I’ll last longer outside if I’m working smarter. Thank you sir. You are my favorite of all the gardeners on you tube. One thing I do use quite a bit is a little stool when I’m working in an area for a bit.

  48. Joanie S on April 16, 2022 at 6:59 pm

    I am trying to figure out the right type shovel to remove grass that has encroached my peach tree. I could put cardboard down and cover it with mulch or compost, but I am concerned it would cover too much at the crown.

    Watching an episode on Epic Gardening yesterday, I found out there is such a thing as a potato fork. I do have an antique fork for my compost… short handle. Love my hula hoe for weeds!

  49. Chad Strutzenberg on April 16, 2022 at 7:00 pm

    Have you ever done a video about how you got started gardening?

  50. M O on April 16, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    You don’t want to get your showels and truvels mixed up. Causes all sorts of problems.

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