Vintage Garden Tools

What can we say? Well, a lot really! There is something especially lovely about working in outdoor spaces with an old garden tool (spade, trowel, hoes, watering cans etc) imprinted with the love and graft of previous owners. These are not power tools but wooden handled, crafted by hand, cast in brass or iron and made to last. The antique and vintage garden tool choices we have for sale are gathered by us from around the UK. It started with a mattock, bought from a Festival of Wood at Westonbirt Arboretum. We were doing some guerilla gardening and bramble clearing in a local park, and not having a pig handy, needed something to get through the roots. We came across an antique mattock, with a beech handle and cast iron blade. It felt great in the hand and when we got it home, it did the job just perfectly. We were hooked! Enjoy our selection and do revisit often as the collection is constantly changing.

Why bother with antique garden equipment? What sort of wood should tool handles be made from?
Why bother with antique garden equipment?

Q: Old versus modern

There are a million space-saving, time-saving, lightweight, battery-powered pieces of modern equipment available and these all have their place in gardening. To us, part of the joy of gardening is that it takes people out of the frenzy of the modern world and into a more quiet and contemplative place. In connecting to the soil we are connecting to centuries of gardeners and cultivators before us and there is a joy in using the simple old tools such as a garden spade or rake that our predecessors used. 

Q: Let’s talk longevity?

A cast piece of metal will likely last longer and be more resilient than a pressed piece of metal. A well-maintained long beech handle will likely outlast a flimsy aluminium handle. If an item has been well cared for and has worked for a century it will continue to do so. This is particularly the case with vintage garden hand tools.

Q: There is more variety?

Modern producers of tools want to design multifunction items that sell in their thousands. In days gone by items were often designed to be for a single purpose. There is therefore a preponderance of unusual antique gardening tools that can prove to be very and specifically useful. A Little Gripper flower picker anyone?

Q: They just look better!

Let’s face it, whether in your potting shed or greenhouse, a wall display of stunning vintage gardening tools is endlessly fascinating and great to show off!


What sort of wood should tool handles be made from?

Woods that make great handles 

  • Ash

  • Beech

  • Oak

  • Cherry

  • Hawthorn

  • Hickory

Woods that should be avoided for handles 

  • Pine (too soft)

  • Ironwood (too heavy and difficult to work)

  • Birch (low strength)

  • Other softwoods

And please do remember that if you replace the handle on your antique garden equipment, and then later replace the head, it IS still the same gardening tool. Oh yes.

Are you a gardener, enthusiast or collector? Either way, our Vintage Garden Tools collection is part of our wider collection of vintage garden accessories - come and have a look around the gardenalia section of our store.