How Gardening is Good for Your Heart and Soul

There’s nothing like a series of sunny days in late winter to awaken my inner gardener. I’m convinced this hobby improves both my mental and physical wellbeing and for very good reasons—six reasons, to be exact!

A bench in a garden

Effective exercise

According to Everyday Health, just one hour of light gardening and yard work burns 330 calories—more than lifting weights for the same amount of time. I’ll take it!

Blood pressure

Gardening scored on the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) recommendation list for battling high blood pressure. I’m sure they’re thinking the physical movement aspects of gardening. But me? Beautiful flowers and well-manicured beds calm my soul and refuel my joy like little else.

Immune system

It’s the sun, I’m sure of it. When I’m in my garden, I’m soaking up vitamin D which helps the body absorb calcium, which in turn keeps bones strong and the immune system healthy. These days, more than ever before—we need our immunity to be at its very best.

Stress relief

There’s something about the feel of soil between your fingers and the soft scent of sweet peas, freesia, lilacs, and roses to encourage stress to melt away. A beautiful garden helps to put the cares of life into proper perspective. I find myself meditating, praying, and singing hymns. It is Well With My Soul is my favorite.

Happiness booster

At least one well-respected study actually lays out the positive emotional impact of being around flowers! People smile when they see flowers and researchers have proven the lasting positive effects that flora has on our moods.

Emergency preparedness

Growing at least some of your own food is high on the list of wise emergency preparedness, according to the folks at Peak Prosperity. Growing your own produce is cost-effective and creates edibles at lower prices than the food items can be bought. It also increases a person, family or group’s food security in case of adversity.

With so much good to be had—no matter our situations or available space—let’s get out there and do some gardening!

With all of this in mind, I’ve come up with a list of my favorite inexpensive yard and garden gadgets and gear. All of these items are available to order online for home delivery. And while this may look like a sizable investment, it’s not likely you will need all of these items on day one. Just hang onto this list as you begin to furnish your tool shed.

I’m confident you can rely on this list to build a collection of garden tools that will work well for many years to come. I’d rather see you spend a few more dollars on good quality tools from the start than to find yourself having to replace poor quality items every season. Been there, done that and wasn’t very happy about it.

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Here for your gardening pleasure are my best inexpensive garden tools:

A close up of a tool

1. Gloves

I tried so many until I found the gloves that work for me. Atlas Touch Gloves are awesome. Made of cotton with nitrile (similar to vinyl) coating on the palm and fingers, these gloves fit so well and are so flexible I can easily open a can, pick up a small pebble or even take a call while wearing them.

A pack of six pair comes in an assortment of pastel colors and sizes. These gloves are machine washable. Best garden gloves ever.

2. Trowel

You need a good trowel for digging, cutting and scooping dirt. It needs to have a wide, sharp edge to cut through roots and grasses in a single pass. The handle needs to be smooth and easy to grip. Few trowels I’ve tried to meet all of that criteria at a price I’m willing to pay. This one does. Wilcox 14-Inch Garden Trowel is perfect in every way. The blade has a ruler that helps make sure I’m planting seeds, seedlings, and bulbs to a uniform depth.

3. Weeder

If you’ve ever used a Hula-Ho Weeder, you know this thing is almost magic. Known by some as the weeder with a wiggle, the first time you pick it up, you’ll think it’s broken because the self-sharpening blade is loose. But that’s the magic! It moves back and forth.

It will change forever the way you weed, aerate, mulch and cultivate your garden. I have the luxury of two of these babies—one with a 14-inch handle and full-size with 54-inch handle.

Rake and Shovel

4. Shovel

For me, the right shovel is like having the right vacuum. I use my Shark vacuum daily because it fits and it works. I want the same features in my shovel. It has to fit my hands without giving me blisters or splinters.

The Bully Tools Round Point Shovel with a closed handle is, without doubt, the best choice, a great deal. I love the fiberglass handle that will not rot, splinter or require any kind of maintenance.


I keep a bucket of sand with my tools, into which I’ve poured a bottle of motor oil. Once I hose off this shovel (and all of my tools for that matter), I plunge the shovel part into the sand before hanging it up. That keeps the blade edge sharp and leaves a light coating of oil that prevents rust.

Related: Secrets for How to Grow An Edible Garden Just About Anywhere!

5. Pruner

I’m sold on Fiskars Traditional Bypass Pruning Shears because they are great for cutting flowers, twigs, and branches up to 1/2-inch thick. Known as “bypass” shears, this pruner has blades that cut like scissors to make cleaner, easier cuts.

And it has a self-cleaning sap groove that keeps the blades from sticking even when I need to cut through icky sticky stuff. My Fiskars pruner is at least 10 years old and still going strong.

6. Bow Rake

A strong rake is an absolute necessity for combing rocks and clods out of a bed and leveling the soil for seed sowing. I suggest that you spend a bit more to get a great heavy-duty rake like this Truper 31380 Tru Pro 60-Inch bow rake with a fiberglass handle.

It will last a lifetime, carrying you through even the biggest jobs like raking rocks or pulling roots and vines when its time to winterize the garden.

Garden and Mower7. Reel mower

This is hands down, the best lawn mower if you want to mow the old-fashioned way and get a little exercise while you do it. Scotts Great States 20-inch mower is the best in its class of push mowers.

This little machine cuts through grass (notice I didn’t say tears through grass) like its butter! It makes the cleanest cuts ever, which promotes healthy grass and is also easy to adjust for mowing height.

If you have childhood memories of a reel mower that gets jammed up and nearly impossible to push, let those memories go. Push mowing has never been easier or cheaper.

MORE: Plant an Edible Garden No Matter Where You Are or What You Have

8. Leaf rake

I hate it when the tines on a leaf rake get clogged and I have to stop, reach down and pull all the debris away.

The reason I love the Corona Fixed Tine Leaf Rake is that the tines have a spring base to prevent this from happening. The wood handle is 54-inches, which allows for reaching behind bushes and around hedges. And a Lifetime warranty, so hang onto the paperwork that comes with it!

9. Garden kneeler

If the thought of kneeling in your garden as you tend to routine gardening chores makes you wince in pain, relax. What you need is an excellent kneeling pad that is thick enough to provide comfort and large enough to kneel on effortlessly.

You will find that in this InSassy Garden Kneeler Pad. Prepare to want one of these in the house as well. I can’t tell you how many times I reach for my kneeler. (OK, maybe I can but that will be for another time and place.)

Updated 3-27-20


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6 replies
  1. Dave Cuffe says:

    Another benefit: Soil bacteria which are serotonin releasing are found in soil. It is thought that that is why gardeners are such contented people. It may also explain Pica – kids sometimes become soil eaters, possibly due to stress, but they do feel better, so telling them to stop is problematic.

  2. Linda says:

    Gone are the days when I could work in the garden. I can no longer use a spade or shovel, nor can I kneel or sit on the ground and be able to get back up. However I can still grow veggies in containers and it’s the way to go for elderly and disabled persons who still love watching those seeds come up and produce flowers and food.

  3. K R says:

    I will add my own comment from 40-plus years of gardening experience. Check out the square foot gardening method. We switched to that some years ago after years of the traditional row type gardening and are beyond thrilled with the results. My only suggestion for that method is that the book tells you you don’t need fertilizer when mixing the peat moss, vermiculite and compost, but we have found we actually do need to add some. Raised 4×4′ beds are wonderful; we even have some 4×4′ counter-height beds my husband made since I can no longer kneel. Some veggies grow too tall for the tall beds (our tomato plants get to around 8 feet tall so it’d be impossible to pick the tomatoes), but many veggies do well in them. Also, think about a timed irrigation system-I’m also in zone 9 and going out to water in the heat of summer here is a non-starter for me. We use skinny soaker hoses attached to the system instead of traditional drippers, as we found those don’t deliver enough water in the heat of a Sacramento area summer day.

  4. Kim Kay says:

    I’m also a square foot gardener! I converted more than 10 years ago and never thought about going back. My hubbie built me HUGE raised beds 2 years ago and I love them.

  5. Bookworm says:

    Such a wonderful list! I’ve got most of them, but I’d never heard of that weeder — gotta get me one! Local garden centers, local master gardeners, university horticulture programs, and county extension services are all great sources of information — local being the key word. Don’t depend on advice from other areas. Your soil, rainfall, and temperature make your area unique. Here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area we have Neil Sperry, a wealth of information with his free weekly emails, radio programs, and Facebook account.

  6. Jan New says:

    Fiskar products are reliable and fairly priced. They stand behind their products and replace blades for free, if or when they break. We were impressed by the great customer service.


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