It’s officially garden season, and aspiring and well-seasoned plant lovers are putting their hands in the soil to make the most of their pots or patch of land.

Homesteader Jessica Sowards, host of YouTube’s Roots and Refuge Farm, has a new book to inspire and inform beginners: The First-time Gardener: Growing Vegetables.”

Step-by-step instructions and full-color illustrations throughout the book guide readers on preparing the soil and selecting, watering, feeding and protecting plants.

We asked Sowards to share her five favorite gardening tools. These are her recommendations:

The Roo Apron ($40 at This gathering apron makes harvesting a breeze. Its big front pocket stands up to heavy loads, and you can unclip the ropes to let your yield drop out.

CobraHead Original Weeder & Cultivator Garden Tool ($28 at This tool, which comes in multiple sizes, is a powerhouse for getting under the root systems of tough weeds. It stands up to wear and tear and looks brand new after years of heavy use.


Chapin 1-Gallon Lawn and Garden Sprayer ($13 at Organic pest maintenance in the garden requires frequent reapplication of products like neem oil or Bacillus thuringiensis. Even in small gardens, a spray bottle can become wearing to use when applying these products. A pump pressure sprayer is a small investment that makes the job so much easier.

Smith & Hawken Wood Handled Garden Dibber ($5 at A pointed wooden stick to make holes in the ground seems like one of the most obvious tools in the world. So obvious, you might think “I don’t really need that.” However, it is one of Sowards’ most-used tools. It helps hugely when planting bulbs or small transplants.

Greenstalk Garden Tower (starting at $99 at This isn’t a typical tool, but it’s a gardening product Sowards says she truly loves. “I love the Greenstalk for providing a solution for gardeners that might not have a ton of space. Even with my large gardens, I use it for vertically growing strawberries and salad greens out of the reach of slugs,” she says.

10 more must-have garden tools

Here are some more garden essentials you’ll want to keep close at hand throughout the planting season:

Garden and horticulture books: You might run to a reference book to find out how to save a water-deprived rhododendron. Other books you’ll want to read over and over for inspiration.

Ablegrid Explandable Garden Hose ($35–$40 at You’ve wrestled with your last heavy hose. It’s time for a lightweight, flexible hose that coils up without a fight. This one has a latex core that won’t kink, and it comes with an adjustable sprayer.


Craftsman 42-Inch Spading Fork ($28 at This multi-purpose tool is ideal for digging and breaking up stubborn soil and sand.

Crocs Classic Clog ($50 at Washable, breathable and odor-resistant Crocs are perfect gardening shoes, and can be found in the color of your favorite flower. You can find other brands of quick-drying clogs at almost any large retailer.

Xjyamus Gardening Gloves with Claws ($9 at These gloves look kooky, with Freddy Krueger-esque claws attached to the waterproof material. But once you try them, you’ll never dig into soil the same way again.

Gardener’s Lifetime Hand Rock ‘n’ Root Trowel ($28 at The narrow, slightly scooped blade lets you go deeper and aim better while digging. It plucks out weeds and also makes a perfect space for bulbs and transplants.

Nisaku Mado Half-Moon Hoe ($25 at This versatile tool can loosen weeds, dig trenches for planting rows of bulbs and harvest root crops.

Power tool of your choice: What will give you the most satisfaction when you power it up: A riding mower, leaf blower or chain saw?

Fiskars 3-Piece Looper, Hedge Shear and Pruner Kit ($30 at Don’t know which you’ll need? Some retailers sell all three in one set.

True Temper Trenching Shovel ($32.50 at A trenching spade, with a narrow, pointed head, is a great tool to dig, cut roots and break through sod. And its angled head provides better leverage while breaking ground.