Tools on a Budget
Gardens are an amazing addition to any home. Whether you are a novice gardener, who has more of a brown than thumb than a green one, or a master gardener who grows award-winning fruits and vegetables, having the right tools can make a huge difference in the amount of work you have to put forward, and success you will see.
However, some of the best gardening equipment is not always the most expensive. Here are my picks for the ten must have budget gardening tools.
#1: Nitrile-Dipped Gloves
One of the major pains to gardening is being picked and poked by thorns and weeds. Fortunately, nitrile-dipped gloves are a great deterrent for these little pokers. These gloves are hardened, but are still pliable enough to grab hold of weeds and tools and be able to get all the work done you had in mind. You can pick these up for as little as $6, or even less when purchased on an end-of-season clearance.
#2: Safety Sun Glasses
Safety glasses are an often-underutilized tool. While protecting your eyes from the harmful rays of the sun, safety sunglasses also ensure that when you are using tools like a rototiller or anything else mechanical or electric, that nothing will fly up and hit one of the most sensitive areas of your body. Fortunately, these glasses have come a long way over the years, and you no longer need the lab-type goggles to provide the right protection. Just be sure that whatever glasses you choose, there is ample protection around the sides of your eyes as well as directly in front of them. These are relatively inexpensive, usually starting around $3 and going up from there.
#3: Garden Kneeling Pad
One of the primary reasons many people do not like gardening is because of the wear on the knees. Part of what causes such strain on the knees is the rough, uneven ground, and the imperfection that dig into your knees as you are working. A simple kneeling pad can be helpful, and are not expensive. In fact, you may want to consider a simple foam pool toy from a dollar store in order to make this incredible tool even more budget-friendly.
#4: Seed Starting Kit
Many would-be gardeners fail before they ever get started because their plants never get a good start. A great way to get around this is to start your seeds in peat moss and help those seedlings become robust before transferring them to your garden. This will ensure your plants have the greatest chance at survival and are more resilient toward the uncontrolled environment of most gardens. These are relatively inexpensive. The different option is to take old milk jugs, and cut off the bottom three inches. Then use a nail or a punch to put some small in the bottom, and fill with potting mix. Nothing like recycling old refuse to make it multipurpose! Oh, do not throw out the top of that milk jug, more on that to come. Another great and inexpensive option for starting pots is those left over egg cartons.
#5: Plant Markers
A common frustration for many home gardeners is getting their plants started, getting those plants successfully transferred to the garden, but then not being able to remember what is growing where. Some simple plant markers can help alleviate this frustration. Of course, you can purchase the pre-made plant markers from your local home improvement store or online. If you want more of a DIY option, pick up some popsicle sticks and a permanent marker from your local dollar store. You may even cover the writing with a “clear coat” nail polish to ensure it holds up a little more under wet weather conditions.
#6: Old Bread Knife
It is truly amazing how you can use otherwise worn out tools and implements. For instance, that serrated bread knife that is no longer sharp enough to cut through fresh bread without tearing it up can easily be repurposed for your garden. Almost every home gardener has run into a series of roots that need to be cut out of the garden. This tool can be a great addition to your collection to help deal with those annoying roots. There is little cost, being you are repurposing this tool, or pick up an inexpensive bread knife for as little as a few bucks.
#7: Rain Gauges
Making sure your plants are getting the right amount of water is important. However, no one wants to waste water, or pay for water you do not need for that matter. Place a few small rain gauges around your garden to ensure you have an idea of how much rain your plants are receiving and to help you determine how much and how often to water your garden. You can easily order these online or pick them up at a local home improvement store for as low as about $5.99.
#8: Kitchen Shears
Being able to trim your plants and remove dying or diseased portions is extremely important to the viability of your garden. While you could sink a lot of money into garden shears, an inexpensive option is a pair of kitchen shears from the local dollar store. Sure, they may not last you quite as long as that expensive pair from the hardware store, but at only five percent of the cost, you can afford to replace it a few times over the years and still save money.
#9: A Good Digging Shovel
Every good gardener needs a digging shovel to accompany their must-have tools. While it may not be readily apparent what you may need this for if you are just doing shallow work with flowers and vegetables, the uses are numerous. If you ever decide to plant something with deeper roots, or need to remove something with deeper roots, this tools is going to be much more effective than a simple hand trowel. It can also be used to mix large amounts of soil, fertilizer, and many other things. Finally, if you have anything heavy, like large rocks or landscaping stones, this can be a great lever to help with those as well. These are widely available at local hardware stores and most big-box department stores, usually starting around $5-$10, and going up depending on construction and design. You can also purchase them online at sites like amazon.com and even find info on the best rated digging shovels.
#10: Worn Out Linens
Old linens, sheet and towels, and even clothes like socks and old shirts have a number of tremendous uses in the home garden. Old sheets can be used to help drag bags of supplies around the yard and help save your back. Cut strips of old linens to use as ties for plants that need stakes and extra support. If you live in an area that is prone in frost after the planting season starts, you can use an old blanket to help keep the frost off your precious seedlings.
Bonus: Reused Food Containers
Why not reuse as much waste as you can to help reduce what goes to a landfill? Old food containers can be great helping create some inexpensive gardening tools. Here are a few options to consider:
- Remember that milk jug from number four above from which you removed the bottom? You can take the top to make a flexible scoop, which can be great for things like grass seed.
- Yogurt containers can also be wonderful additions to the home garden. Use these to create a barrier for young seedlings from cutworms or even as small pots for started your seeds.
- Broken mini-blinds can be used for a more durable plant label.
- Chopsticks can be used to help tie the stalks of plants that may have heavy fruit. You can also use two per seedling and put a cheap plastic back over them to help control moisture and create a little greenhouse effect.
No matter how advanced you are with your gardening skills, these options are sure to help you get more from your experience and keep you from wasting money during your next gardening season.