11 Time-Saving Garden Tools for a LARGE Garden

by Becky
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Our gardens have evolved throughout the years, each year getting progressively larger. As that has happened, I have found that the tools I need to use required adjustment too. 

If you have or soon will have a large garden, I assume you are serious about wanting a large harvest but don’t want to slave over the monotonous tasks of the garden. 

large family garden

Garden tools are investments with some upfront cost but they will pay big dividends in the long run. We save thousands of dollars every year by growing our own food and that doesn’t even include the health benefits.

I consider the tools a worthwhile cost because of the money we save. However, we didn’t buy them all at once. We added them slowly as our budget would allow. If you can only get a few to start I would recommend the Earthway Seeder, the stirrup hoe, and the broadfork.

Here is my full list of favorite garden tools for a large garden:

#1 30” Bed Preparation Rake

The thirty inch bed preparation rake has been a big game changer in my garden. Since my garden beds are 30 inches, I use the rake to smooth out the garden bed and only need to use one string line because I measure the rest of the width of the bed with the rake. It saves time! 

You can also get some optional row markers to add onto this rake. I used to use these but have since moved on to a different tool. If you are on a budget the row markers work good enough to get you by!

#2 Stirrup Hoe

A stirrup hoe is a fantastic tool if you aren’t great at keeping weeds away. I’ll be the first to say that I fall into that category. It is very effective at cutting the roots of larger weeds. 

#3 Wheel Hoe

The wheel hoe is a stirrup hoe on a wheel. It’s a big time saver for a large garden. My purpose for getting it was for use in walking paths. I love it for that use!

The wheel hoe uses the same push and pull motion as the stirrup hoe.

#4 The Gridder

The gridder rolls out perfectly spaced grids for planting. It was created by Conor Crickmore at Neversink Farm. You know it’s going to be good when it was created by a market gardener. 

Conor has a very neat and meticulous garden check out some of his videos on how this tool works. Here is his Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/c/NeversinkFarm

In addition to using it for spacing transplanted crops, I use it with my seeder as well for making straight and properly spaced rows. 

#5 The Rebellion

The rebellion tool is used in conjunction with the gridder (above) and it is also created by Conor Crickmore of Neversink Farm. You need to have perfectly spaced rows to make this work best. It is a combination wire hoe that weeds multiple rows at a time. 

The important thing to remember when using a wire hoe is that you use it before you see weeds. It gets them out before they even come above the soil surface (thread stage weeds). It loses effectiveness from when weeds have their first set of true leaves and beyond.

The only negative to the Rebellion is that the jostling of the weeding sometimes shakes loose the twist connections on the ruler. The middle hoe stays in firmly.

An alternative to the Rebellion is a single wire hoe, the Mutineer. You’ll need to get the different hoe attachments with it if you don’t have them already. The different size hoes that attach make the job easy and fast so you don’t need to do multiple passes.

#6 Broadfork

When I had a small garden and raised beds, I spent a lot of years on the fence as to whether or not I needed a broadfork. When we moved to our new homestead, I knew this was going to be a must have. The soil was a very heavy clay and I decided I wasn’t going to mess around with a wood and metal combination broadfork. I wanted an all metal one that was going to last forever!

The Meadow Creature broadfork cuts right through our clay soil! The only drawback to this type of broadfork is that it’s quite heavy. 

#7 Earthway Seeder

The Earthway Seeder was the first I seeder I owned. I got it for Christmas two years ago. It is very affordable and was an incredible time saver for planting corn, beans, and cover crops.

 It does really well with large seeds but falls short when sowing small seeds. It often shredded my small seeds because they would get stuck behind the seed plate.

#8 Jang Seeder JP-1

I decided to ask for the Jang Seeder this year for Christmas because I needed something for my small seeds. Wow what a game changer! The Jang is very expensive but the quality is excellent. 

It has more weight than the Earthway and presses down the seeds really well. It is very good a singulating the seeds. I only got a few seed rollers for the Jang in the small sizes. But I’ve heard the Jang JP-1 isn’t as good for large seeds. I plan on continuing to use the Earthway for my peas, beans, corn, and any other large seeds.

#9 Garlic Dibbler

This is a homemade tool for planting garlic. It’s our second prototype 🙂 I told Cam the only thing I wish was different was the middle piece of wood used as a handle is too short. Otherwise it’s a great tool that speeds up the process of planing garlic. It was made with scrap pieces of wood and an old wood handle cut into 5 inch pieces for the dibbler part. You can see a video of us using it HERE.

#10 BCS Tractor

This is one of the first things we bought when we started a large garden. We initially had borrowed a friends little tiller to prepare our raspberry rows but it hardly touched the soil, oh it was awful. You can see the video of this HERE.

We got the BCS Tractor with the rotary plow attachment. I’m thankful we got it when we did because the price has gone way up on this machine in the past two years. Price aside, it is a beast and will cut through some really tough dirt. 

If you are blessed with loamy soil, the BCS may not be necessary. But for us with tough clay and rocky soil, it was a great investment.

We purchased ours from Richard at Dailey’s Farm and Walk Behind Tractors HERE. If you end up purchasing one from Richard, tell him Cameron and Becky Porter from The Seasonal Homestead referred you. We get a small commission on the sale (at no extra cost to you). It’s a small business and Richard is a good guy, and really is knowledgable on what he sells.

The rotary plow attachment we use with the bcs spins on an axis and it’s like trying to control a bucking bronco when you hit a rock and we have many. I still don’t consider it as rough on soil as an actual tiller. It’s a workout though!

I’ve been super grateful to have it, even though eventually once all our garden beds are set up, I hope to phase out the use of the rotary plow. We like the no-till method of gardening so after that initial plowing we don’t use it any more. 

The BCS has the capability to add lots of attachments and one we purchased is a wood chipper

We are also waiting on the order of a flail mower for use with cover crops!

#11 Silage Tarps

While this may not exactly be a “tool” in the way you would think of one, anything that saves time and is useful in the garden is a tool in my book. 

Silage tarps have a lot of use when first starting a garden. If you leave it on an area over the summer it will kill periennial weeds and grasses underneath. This gives you a huge head start on having a successful weed free garden. 

They are also great for pressing pause on an area of the garden. If you aren’t able to quickly flip a garden bed from one crop to the next, a silage tarp will hold the area and prevent weeds from taking over. 

We expand our garden every year, so I have been using them for that. Summer tarping is the best for removing tough weeds. Last year, I expanded our vegetable garden but was only able to have the tarp down for a few weeks in spring before planting potatoes. 

Spring tarping worked for annual weeds but not summer weeds like bermuda grass which eventually came up and took over. I am planting a spring cover crop in this area of the garden this year and will tarp it come summer to kill of the bermuda grass that is left.

I personally don’t like long term plastic use in the garden like landscape fabric or ground cover around plants. To me, silage tarps are a different animal. They are used more on a temporary basis and not around my plants. 

The Forgotten Few

There are a few tools not included on this list with the assumption that most people already have them. I use shovels of all types, hand trowels, pruning shears, and loppers. I also just purchased a hori-hori knife HERE and a Japanese weeding tool HERE. They have been great to use so far.


I hope that gives you some new ideas for tools that will save you time in the garden. I love any tool that saves me time so these are all winners in my book! Feel free to comment with any tools that you love that I’ve missed.

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PamR March 19, 2022 - 4:36 pm

John Kempf was asked specifically about silage tarps during one of his lectures in the 2021 Soil Conference. His concern, and my major reservation to using them, is the heat also kills the soil biology. It takes 3 months for the biology to recover, during which time they are not able to help the plants access the nutrients they need to be healthy. This in turn, brings on the pests as they seek weak plants, and diseases.

It also kills the mycorhyzae fungi which is even more important for plant health. It takes 9 months for that to recover.

Any tilling deeper than 2″ has the same effect on these colonies.

This might be a bit of your pest pressure problem.

Shelly March 20, 2022 - 1:09 am

Does the wheel hoe work well on pathways that are mulched with woodchips? It looks like that might be the case from your picture. I always mulch my pathways, but then when weeds pop up eventually I thought I didn’t have any options besides hand pulling or adding more woodchips. Love everything you share!

theseasonalhomestead March 20, 2022 - 2:38 am

For the most part try to use it in the paths before I put down new wood chips in the Spring. It’s easiest to use when the chips are more broken down. In late summer, if I haven’t kept up with the wood chips and there are a lot of weeds I will use the wheel hoe or hand pull weeds.

Hand pulling is better in some regards because when you use the wheel hoe you stir in the wood chips with the soil underneath if your not careful and the exposed soil will be more likely to sprout weed seeds. The wheel hoe is so much faster though! There are pros and cons of each method.

Patti Combs February 14, 2024 - 8:17 pm

Hi Becky. What wire do you use for your row covers. I think you may have mentioned it once but I cannot find the video for this information. Thanks! Love watching your videos!

Heidi March 4, 2024 - 3:47 pm

What tool do you use on your cover crop to crimp it down?

Becky March 4, 2024 - 4:30 pm

We use a T-post that is horizontal and tie a length of string on each end.

Jon March 23, 2024 - 7:37 pm

How do you recommend removing the existing grass in preparation for a large garden? I will be planting my first garden outside of a raised bed in the coming weeks.

Becky March 30, 2024 - 9:22 pm

I use the silage tarps I mention in this blog post to remove grass! You need to give them some time to work though. If it’s cool outside it will take several weeks or even a month to fully kill off grass below.

If you don’t have the weeks it takes for silage tarps to work and the area isn’t huge, then another option is using a very thick cardboard on the grass and covering it with 3 inches of compost. Make sure the cardboard is not waxed, all tape is removed, and it doesn’t have glossy print. Some types of cardboard aren’t good to put in your garden. I have more information about that HERE go to #13.

I have a video on how this sheet mulching method for a garden space HERE. But I use paper. Paper works on annual weeds but perennial weeds pop straight through which is why the cardboard is a better choice if it’s a new area like yours.


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