Equipment and Best Tools for Gardening
Equipment and Best Tools for Gardening
In gardening, as any other field, the right tool makes a job much easier. Better results are obtained with less effort, and valuable time is saved so that you can spend more time enjoying the fruits of your labours.
For the elderly or handicapped the right choice of tool can make the difference between a task being achievable or impossible. Particularly useful are such devices as a hinged spade, which takes the lifting action out of digging, and long-handled tools that obviate bending.
Do not be put off by the variety of equipment listed here, for many of the tools are helpful rather than essential. In fact surprisingly few tools are needed to maintain an established garden.
Tools are not expensive considering the life you can expect from them, but they should be looked after. Wooden handles and metal blades are both harmed by exposure to damp, so storage in a dry shed or garage is essential. It is equally important to clean tools after use. A wipe with an oily rag, kept handy for the purpose, will prevent rusting, and it does not take a moment.
Clearing and Cultivating Tools for Gardening
Some of the clearing and cultivating tools for gardening mentioned here are only required for clearing a neglected site, but others are the real basics of gardening — fork, spade, hoe and rake. Spend as much as you can afford on these tools. With reasonable care they will last for many years whereas cheap tools soon deteriorate however well you care for them, and may be clumsy to use.
Clearing Tools for Gardening
Certain tools are needed for the initial work of clearing uncultivated ground and for constructional work when making a new garden. In particular, a mattock is ideal for stripping off grass andand cutting through small roots.
A grass-hook or a miniature scythe is handy for clearing rough growth, especially on banks and around ditches. It is, however, of only limited use in an established garden.
Cultivating Tools for Gardening
Cultivating tools for gardening include the most essential tools in the garden, it is important to try out the ‘feel’ of them before buying. Weight and size must suit your stature.
Spades come in a surprising number of forms, but choose one with a foot tread, and a blade no larger than about 29cm x 19cm (11-1/2in x 7-1/2in). Stainless steel reduces friction but plain steel is satisfactory if the blade is kept clean and greased to prevent rusting. Polypropylene handles are particularly long-lasting.
Forks can have the tine dimensions a little larger than for spades, otherwise most of the same comments apply. General-purpose forks have square-section tines.
Rakes are essential for-levelling and seedbed preparation. Choose one with about twelve teeth and a light handle.
Hoes come in various designs. A swan-necked draw hoe is best for heavy weed growth, a dutch hoe for surfacebetween plants, and an onion hoe for close hoeing between small plants. Patent hoes are excellent alternatives to the dutch hoe.
Hand cultivators are particularly useful on heavy soil. There are several sorts, usually with three or five curved, pointed tines that are effective for breaking compacted or lumpy soil.
Motor cultivators may be warranted where a large area of vegetables is to be cultivated. These machines are invaluable when developing a new plot but are of only limited use in an established ornamental garden.
In many cases, especially for initial cultivation in a new garden, the answer is to hire a machine.
Most cultivators are petrol-driven but there are one or two mains-electric machines. These tend to be small and some lack the power to dig really hard, uncultivated ground.
Machines with petrol engines are of three types, identified principally by the position of the rotors.
Those with rear-mounted tines, covered by a hood, chop the soil finely and, having power-driven wheels, are the least tiring to use.
Cultivators with rotors mounted under the engine are cheaper but require more effort. They do not have power-driven wheels. The rotors draw the machine forwards while simultaneously digging the soil. The slower the forward progress — controlled by the user — the deeper the blades dig.
Machines with front-mounted rotors work on similar lines, but tend to be best used for routine work in the kitchen garden.
Before buying, arrange a demonstration in your own garden, preferably of two or three types. To get such a demonstration you will have to deal with a specialist garden machinery centre.
Planting Tools for Gardening
Although planting tools for gardening may appear to be minor tools, items like a trowel will probably be used as much as a spade, so buy good ones. Stainless steel is expensive, but a delight to work with.
Trowels are essential for many planting jobs. The type with a long, pointed blade will probably be found most satisfactory.
Hand forks are less vital, but useful for weeding and for loosening soil around plants. They can often be bought as part of a matching set with a trowel.
Dibbers, preferably sharp-pointed and steel-tipped, are particularly useful in the vegetable garden for planting onion sets,, cabbages and so on.
Garden lines are most helpful in the vegetable garden. A reel-mounted type is easy to manage. To accompany it, buy a 2m (6ft) planed batten, and paint marks at 15cm (6in) intervals, as a guide to sowing and planting.
Pruning and Shaping Tools
Pruning tools often receive a great deal of punishment, and for that reason the blades should be protected from abuse.
Secateurs or pruners are essential in every garden. Some work on the anvil principle, with a single cutting blade; others have a scissors action. Both are equally effective. Avoid buying secateurs that are too small, as over-straining is the commonest cause of damage. Always clean and oil after use.
Lopping shears, or two-handed pruners, are ideal for cutting through branches up to about 2cm (3/4in) thick. However, like the long-arm pruners with handles up to 2m (6ft) or more long, their expense may not be justified in theunless pruning happens to be a major task.
Pruning saws are something of a luxury unless there are old trees needing drastic attention.
Pruning knives are often preferred to secateurs by experienced gardeners, but unless you can handle one with confidence it is best to keep to secateurs for basic pruning.
Hand shears can be tiring to use, and it really does pay to buy a good quality pair that’s light to handle.
Mechanical hedge trimmers are the most labour-saving of garden machines after lawnmowers. They will cut just as effectively as hand shears and in a fraction of the time.
There is a wide choice of power sources. Mains-electric trimmers are popular for garden use. For greater safety, some manufacturers offer 110v models for use with a transformer. There are also 12v models, powered by a car battery or generator, and yet others which have a rechargeable battery built into the handle. Having no cable, the latter are particularly convenient, but cutting time between charges is limited.
Trimmers driven by miniature petrol engines can be bought for cutting substantial hedges that are not near a mains supply.
Many garden-size trimmers have reciprocating blades about 30cm (1ft) long. This is adequate for small hedges, but blades up to 80cm (2-1/2ft) long are available for longer stretches.
Avoid buying a heavier trimmer than you need, or one that is ill-balanced. Either can prove very tiring, especially when reaching across the top of a broad hedge.
When using a cable-supplied trimmer, pass the cable over your shoulder so that it hangs behind your body. Follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions.