A plant nursery can be started with very few hand tools. A small home plant nursery is an extension of the garden, and so the same tools used in gardening are found in plant nurseries. As the operation grows, specialized tools may be required. Larger operations may need large machine tools and even structures like greenhouses, which are a class of tools.
Knives and Pruners
The nursery person, like an old west American gunslinger, should always have a hand pruner in his holster ready for use. A plant nursery should have the best pruner available for it will be used every day. From pruning hybrid root stock, to cutting iris fans, from trimming low-hanging branches to taking cuttings for vegetative propagation, the pruner is the nursery tool of choice. And for those tasks that need a quick deft motion or precision of an angled cut, the grafting knife beveled on one side brings speed to many daily nursery tasks. Whereas pruners are used to take evergreen cuttings, the knife makes quick work of perennial and annual species vegetative propagation.
A well-made spade will last a lifetime. A heavy, metal-clad wooden shaft with a blade that can be sharpened makes the spade the workhorse of a nursery operation. Do not scrimp on the cost of a fine spade, for cheap spades are easily broken when you need them most. The spade is the basic digging and planting tool, while long-handled shovels are used to mix or move soils. For mixing soil on potting tables, a short-handled, light-weight coal shovel is just the right tool.
Rakes of All Types
The hard rake, sometimes called a concrete rake, is used to remove rocks from a planting bed, to level the planting surface and to clean debris from a field. The hard rake can be turned upside down to break up clumping soil clods, and turned on its side to pry out rocks and branches from the nursery planting bed. The more familiar, flexible, fan-shaped leaf rake is used to clean up organic material and small debris and to finish off or clean up a planting field.
Along with a claw and sledge hammer, screwdrivers of various sizes and shapes, chisels, wrenches and a file for sharpening tools, the plant nursery needs to have an array of hoes, three- and four-prong scratchers, a pitch fork and a potato fork to round out the basic equipment needs. If there will be in-the-ground production of small perennials and other specialty crops, then the nursery will also benefit from a high quality trowel for fast replantings of stock plants.