While modern-day humans may not need to grow everything they plan to eat themselves, it’s certainly rewarding, and tasty, to make a salad sourced from your own backyard. And you don’t need a sprawling plot of land to get started. Whether you’re planning a greenhouse full of tomatoes or just want to grow a few herbs on your deck, it qualifies as a garden.
Of course, gardens aren’t limited to veggies. Outdoor flower beds can make your backyard an inviting place for a BBQ or attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your patio all summer long. Outdoor gardening can be as labor-intensive as you’d like, or not, depending on what you plant and the level of maintenance and dedication you’re willing to provide. If you need recommendations, these are the best plants for your first garden.
From hoses and gloves to trowels and wheelbarrows, these are the items you’ll need in order to plant and maintain a thriving outdoor garden, no green thumb required.
A good garden hose
You’ll need a hose when you start gardening, especially if you’re working in an area protected from the elements, like a greenhouse. Hose technology isn’t particularly complicated, but you want to make sure your hose is durable enough to withstand being dragged through the yard without being inconvenient to move around. We tested seven hoses to find the hose with the best flow rate and sturdiest construction.
An adjustable nozzle or spray head for your hose
Nozzles allow you to control the water pressure while watering, which is vital, especially with delicate flowers and newly sprouted fruits and veggies. Buy a nozzle that rotates to avoid getting your hose twisted and kinked. For more information on how to choose a nozzle, check out our guide to the best garden hose nozzles.
A seed starter kit to get going
Whether you’ve got outdoor space for rows of vegetables or plans for an urban garden on your patio, you’ll need to let your seeds first grow somewhere protected and safe (if you’re buying seedlings, you can skip this step). Seeds are usually quite dainty and not hardy enough to withstand wind and weather like established plants. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to start seeds indoors, even without direct sunlight.
Here’s our guide to the best indoor gardens, or shop some of our other favorite indoor and outdoor gardening kits below.
Quality yet affordable gardening gloves
Garden gloves are for far more than just keeping your hands clean, though they do an excellent job of that, too. Some soils and planting materials can have tiny pieces that might poke your hands, and some vegetables, like squash, can grow prickly stems and leaves. Gloves can also make it easier to grip gardening tools or heavy bags of mulch. Check out our guide to the best gardening gloves to find the ones that suit your needs.
Extra protection from the elements and nature
This is a broad category, and what you’ll need depends on the type of garden you have. If you’re growing plants in the backyard, you might need a plastic greenhouse to protect plants from bunnies and deer who might beat you to eating your fresh veggies. Or, it may be that you live in a place with unexpected variations in weather or cold spells, and your flowers need a little extra cover to keep them from wilting.
A trusty hand trowel
If you have no other gardening tools whatsoever, at least have a trowel. There’s no way around having one, and they’re extremely affordable. Outdoor gardeners will need them for everything from planting to rearranging soil, and even those with just one or two houseplants will need one when it comes time to repot or mix in new soil. If you’re looking for a more heavy-duty tool, check out our guide to the best gardening shovels.
A cultivator for turning soil
The other tool you’ll need is a cultivator, which is closely related to a hand rake, though the former is better for digging. You’ll find a variety of uses for this product, but it’s most useful for turning soil or mixing last year’s soil in with new dirt or fertilizer. It’s also handy for pulling weeds.
A watering can to control output and prevent water stains
If you’re growing plants indoors or on a deck, you’ll need a watering can. It will probably come in handy outdoors since a hose can be a bit of overkill for younger or delicate plants. Though you can use a bucket in a pinch, the specially shaped spout on a watering can eliminates drips that can leave water stains on deck railings and other porous surfaces.
A wheelbarrow for carrying heavy loads
A wheelbarrow is likely the most expensive piece of gardening equipment you’ll buy, but it’s a lifesaver for when you need to carry heavy bags of potting soil and mulch to their beds or greenhouse. Picking up a 20-pound bag of soil incorrectly can strain your back, so unless you’re regularly lifting weights at the gym, it’s smart to invest in a wheelbarrow.
Self-watering tools to take care of plants when you’re away from home
If you live alone or grow plants in an area with gated access like a deck, you’ll probably want some way to water your plants when you’re not home. If you’re going to be gone for a long weekend, taking vacation, or have small plants that need daily attention, using these self-watering tools could be the deciding factor on whether you come home to wilty seedlings or thriving plants.
A pest control solution
No matter where or what you’re growing, you’ll probably find that your veggie and flower leaves are irresistible to some bugs. If you’ve noticed significant damage, you may want to consider an insect-control solution. Just remember that many bugs, like ladybugs and spiders, are good for your garden and the ecosystem as a whole. Always read a product’s label closely to ensure you are using it correctly and causing minimal disruption to the environment.
Sun protection for your skin
Many flowers and crops do better with full sun, but unfortunately, your skin doesn’t. Being outside in the yard on sunny days can burn your skin in as little 30 minutes, so it’s smart to keep some sunscreen in your greenhouse or garden toolkit. Opt for a two-in-one sunscreen and bug repellent if you live in an area with mosquitoes. If you’re looking for mineral sunscreen, we spoke with a dermatologist to get recommendations.