When I first developed this list, I came up with the ten tools that I thought would be the most useful for puttering around in a flower garden. Then I though of a few more that would really come in handy. And a few more...
I had a real problem deciding which ones I should keep on the list and which I should eliminate - until I realized that the tools fell naturally into categories according to function. It was these individual gardening functions that I needed to address.
The solution was to select a system, consisting of one or more tools and/or devices, that would perform each of these functions and keep with our basic principles of value and simplicity.
Depending on how much you prefer annuals to perennials, planting might be a prominent part of tending your flower garden. With good soil, you can almost plant with your fingers or a stick, but it helps to have a decent garden trowel. If you have larger plantings in your garden, you may want to also have a short-handled round point garden shovel. Many of the other tools on this list can also be used for digging. Can you dig it?
While your trusty garden trowel can be used to dig up weeds, it usually straddles the line between overkill, for those stray loner weeds, and underkill, when you're facing a carpet of weedlings. The answer is the garden hoe. There are flat, or paddle hoes, warren hoes that are useful for digging trenches to plant in, hoop-shaped hoes and a wide variety of others. There are also short-handled hoes for working on your knees, and long-handled hoes for doing your weeding standing up. One of my favorites is the ho-mi, or Korean mini garden plow.
Whether you are picking flowers for a centerpiece, dead-heading to extend the season, or cutting back at the end of the season, you will occasionally need to cut and prune. The shearing action of a bypass pruner leaves a much cleaner cut than the crushing action of an anvil pruner on live plants. A good garden knife, or a hori hori (Japanese weeding knife) can also be used to prune, but I recommend only using them to remove dead material.
Plants need water, and mother nature doesn't always provide enough. When your plants are looking droopy and wilted, the easies way to give them a drink is with a hose and a gentle sprinkler head attachment. But you can resort to a watering can, or even a bucket and a ladle if your hose just won't reach. Personally I'd rather buy another length of hose than lug around buckets full of water. Don't like dragging out a long hose and reeling it back in every time? Use two separate hoses and reels. When you're done, separate them in the middle, then reel one back to the faucet and the other out to the garden, where you can leave the reel.
Bug killer, liquid fertilizer, manure tea... There are lots of things you may want to spray on your garden. The easiest method is the hose-end sprayer. Attach it to your hose, fill it up and adjust the spray setting, then turn on the hose. Need to spray more liquid or need more accurate control? Consider a pump sprayer. Give it a few pumps, then spray your liquid right where you need it.