Should I be using copper garden tools? They might just make your soil better and deter pests, say these garden experts

Here, we learn from experts how copper tools may benefit our gardens, and find the best places to buy them

copper garden tools on a colorful background
(Image credit: Future)

Copper garden tools might look gorgeous, but did you know that they're not just for aesthetics? It turns out, these pretty trowels, forks and hoes bring benefits to your gardening well beyond appearance. 

According to some experts, copper tools have numerous benefits for your modern garden, whilst enhancing your experience, and though some of these properties are up for debate, it doesn't hurt that they look great, too. 

If you are looking to upgrade your garden tools, we say look no further than copper - your garden might just thank you for it. 

What are the advantages of copper tools?

Copper tools can be pricey but are a worthwhile investment for the avid gardener as they hold several benefits for the garden and gardener. ‘They are exceptionally durable due to the robustness of copper,’ says Tony O’Neill, author and founder of Simplify Gardening, ‘ensuring they can stand the test of time.’ Unlike some other tools, copper stays rust-free, in fact they actually age with a graceful bronze patina, meaning they will serve you for many years to come.

If cleaning your tools is the bane of your life, you'll be pleased to find out that copper tools are extremely easy to look after, ideal if you want to keep a low maintenance garden. 'Using copper tools leads to less soil adhesion than other metals, which means less time cleaning tools and more time planting and tending to your garden,' Tony explains.

Not only do copper tools make gardening quicker by reducing the cleaning time, they also bring the advantage of being a lot sharper than your average tool. Thus making the process of potting and replanting when container gardening considerably quicker. ‘Copper tools have a reputation for being particularly sharp and thus, enable more precise cuts,’ says Bryan Clayton, founder of Greenpal. ‘This can be especially beneficial when pruning or working with delicate plants that need extra care,’ he says. Having just one copper trowel in your toolkit might be a valuable addition to diversify your current lineup and better adjust to specific tasks. The tools can also be kept sharp using a whetstone or file, ensuring they maintain this advantage.

One of the biggest advantages of using copper tools is the benefits it brings to the soil. According to our experts using copper enriches the quality of your soil in more ways than one. ‘There's an interesting side of science to copper tools,’ explains Tony. ‘Some gardeners believe that tiny amounts of copper rub off on the soil during gardening, which can benefit plants as copper is a necessary trace element. While this concept remains somewhat debated, I've observed positive results in my own gardening practices.’ According to this some studies, copper helps to provide plants with essential nutrients and have a beneficial effect on soils water retention capacity and overall quality.

It is also believed that copper helps to repel slugs and snails. According to this belief, these garden visitors avoid moving over copper, and traces of copper, due to a negative chemical reaction that occurs between their skin and the metal. Although there's no real evidence to back up the claim that using copper tools has any significant effect. 


Where can I buy them?

Are there any drawbacks? 

They sound great so far right? Good for the soil, easier to clean, more durable and even better looking, but before you go out and replace all your tools with the copper equivalent there are some important things to note. ‘Copper gardening tools aren't perfect for every task,’ says gardening expert Tony. 'Due to their softer nature, they may not be suitable for heavy-duty jobs like breaking up hard, rocky soil or cutting through thick roots.’ So although they certainly have a place amongst your tools they should not exclusively be copper.

‘It's always essential to have various tools to suit different gardening needs,’ he says, ‘the benefits of copper tools in terms of durability, potential plant health advantages, and ease of use make them a worthy addition to any gardener's toolbox.’

Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.