It's hard not to put these babies at the top of the list. I have the Felco No. 2 and No. 8, which are basically the same except the #8 is supposed to more ergonomic. I find I still go for the No. 2 first. They last forever if you take care of them--cleaning and oiling and occasionally sharpening them. I have had my No. 2 Felcos for 20 years or more. The main problem I have with them is misplacing them. I tend to leave them all over the yard. Thank goodness they have red handles. I have pulled them out of many a weeding basket, under plants and shrubs, in trees, under the deck, in pots, etc.
Next are my hand tools. These are the three I always throw in my basket. Love my trowel--a good one- piece metal trowel is always the best. This trowel might just be my favorite tool. The pointy thing I use all the time, for weeds with deep taproots, for planting seeds, for aerating the soil near trees, for sticking in tiny plants between pavers-- a hundred uses. The funny shaped, triangular-bladed tool is called a "Ho-Mi Digger" (I just looked it up cause I had no idea what it was called). It's a standard tool in Korea that has been in use for 5000 years!! It is great when you are doing hand weeding, because it gets around the base of plants and you can also use it to scrape over the surface of soil to knock off the early weeds.
I love my garden trug. I have two and I keep one in the backyard and one in the front. They are lightweight and I can throw my tools in it and then use it for weeds. I also use it in the spring to blend planting mix for my pots. Excellent. Pretty colors, too.
And of course my kneeling pad gets tossed in the trug, too. Saves my knees and my jeans.
And these are my standing-up tools--a hoe, a cultivator, and the oscillating weeding hoe (I looked that one up too). I actually bought this hoe for my Dad many years ago from Smith and Hawken, and I find that I use it a lot. It's great as a long-handled weeder, for getting up shallow weeds and scraping the top inch or two of soil. I use the cultivator in the spring when I want to break up the soil around plants and after I sprinkle my bone meal around perennials. And of course the regular hoe I use for heavy duty weeding. I have had all these tools for many years, but some good sources for quality tools are Gardener's Supply Company and Lee Valley Tools. I realize I haven't mentioned a shovel, but I think that is because Walt is usually doing the shovel work!
And I almost forgot the most important of all--garden shoes. There are all kinds of these shoes available now, but many years ago I bought the Birkenstocks and they are virtually indestructible. Cute too, right?