Shovel: Spade-shaped end makes digging holes in hard soil and cutting tough underground roots easier.
Clippers: The best ones are ergonomically designed and made specifically for righties or lefties.
Three pronged cultivator: Choose one with a thick, soft-textured handles for a comfortable grip.
Leather gardening gloves: Leather is better than cotton or synthetics for protecting your hands. A softer pair will provide dexterity for working with small plants.
Rake: A metal rake is sturdier than a bamboo or plastic one.
Hand Trowel: Look for a trowel that has a handle designed to mold to the contours of your hand. It makes digging in containers or a small garden easier on the wrists and arm.
Tools that are cracked between handle and head or have splintered or broken handles.
Cotton gloves, which won't protect your hands from cuts or prickly things.
Clippers that don't fit your hand; they'll give you blisters and cramps.
Rakes and cultivators with broken tines, because it will take longer to move dirt and remove weeds.
Real Simple, May 2007. pg 76