Labour Saving Tools for Gardening and Gardening Ideas
Labour Saving Tools for Gardening
An early question many gardeners ask themselves when planning or reassessing a garden is whether it should be designed with maintenance in mind, whether it should save time or physical effort — or both.
Busy working people may have plenty of energy, but not much time to spare for the garden. And older folk may have plenty of time, but are not as able or as strong as they used to be. By careful planning and a few wise purchases of labour savingfor example, much can be done to help.
Tools for Gardening To Make the Job Easier
The right tool always makes a job less arduous, but some are particularly labour-saving. Powered equipment in particular can be an asset to anyone short of time or muscle power.
Powered Tools for Gardening
The first powered machinery most gardeners buy is a lawnmower. This obviously saves a tremendous amount of effort.
The wisdom of buying a machine that catches the clippings cannot be emphasized too strongly. Except in very hot weather, it is desirable to collect the clippings, but remember that one-third of the time spent mowing a lawn is taken up with emptying the grass-box or catcher. To cut down the emptying time, buy a mower with a wide cut. If you had in mind one with a 30cm (12in) width, consider a 35cm (14in) instead.
If there is a total area upwards of 250sq m (300sq yd) ofto be cultivated, it is worth considering the purchase of a powered cultivator, while if you have more than 30m (100ft) of hedge, say 2m (6ft) high, an electric hedge trimmer is justified.
Other Labour-Saving Equipment and Tools for Gardening
There are many non-powered labour-saving tools for gardening and pieces of equipment that can be used. For example, there is a two-handed pruner like a secateur but with two 35cm (14in) handles; these make pruning very easy, and there’s the additional benefit with roses that your hands are now nowhere near the thorns.
Much time is spent in moving materials from one part of the garden to another —, , leaves, hedge trimmings, grass mowings, and so on. One of the large squares of canvas or thick plastic with ropes at the corners is an excellent time and labour saver. You can spread it on the lawn and throw your light rubbish on to it, lift it, sling it over your shoulder and carry it to the rubbish heap.
With a single-wheeled two-handled barrow you are still half carrying the load, but with the modern two-wheeled trucks with a pram handle all the weight is taken by the wheels.
A labour-saving way to dig over a piece of ground if you do not have a motorized cultivator but find the lifting difficult is to use a hinge-operated spade. This transfers the weight from your arms and back to a special bracket attached to the spade.
The length of handle on tools for gardening such as hoes, rakes and yard-brooms is very important. If you have to bend unnecessarily, it will put a strain on your back. The top of the handle should be level with your ear when the tool is standing on the ground. A shorter partner can hold the tool lower down.
Coping with Weeds
Weed control probably takes up as much time, or more, thanor any other gardening chore. One of the simplest methods of control is hoeing, and if done while the weeds are still small they will not have to be raked up and carted off to the compost heap. There are other ways to tackle the problem, however, ranging from chemicals to weed-smothering plants.
Modern chemical weedkillers have proved a great boon to the gardener. There is now a type to suit almost every situation: selective weedkillers to kill weeds in grass, or grass among broad-leaved plants; total weedkillers that will persist in the soil for a year; or even one that is harmless to plant growth almost within hours.
Much can be done to control weeds by mulching with a good layer of peat, sawdust, pulverized bark, garden compost, half-decayed leaves, spent hops, mushroom compost, or even straw. Do not, however, mulch around strawberry plants until the soil has warmed (about the end of April), otherwise growth may be retarded.
Always be sure that the ground is wet before applying the mulch, then moisten the mulch itself.
Weeds can also be smothered by planting strong, low-growing plants that will carpet the soil. By careful selection of such ground-cover plants muchcan be saved, and of course they will add considerably to the horticultural interest of the garden.
Ground-cover plants take a year or two before they are fully effective, but do not need much maintenance once they are established.
Watering can take up a great deal of time in dry spells. Hauling lengths of hose about the garden is a time-consuming and dirty job. There are various ‘through feed’ hose reels available. These are connected to the main supply and one just pulls off enough of the hose-pipe to reach the area to be watered, winding it back when the watering has been done.
Even better is the installation of a ‘ring main’ of plastic hose around the garden. Plastic sockets are installed at various points, into which a plug with a short length of hose is inserted to take water to a sprinkler. With several of these sockets around the garden one only needs about 5m (15ft) of movable hose, and the sprinkler which can be picked up in one hand.
It may be that some reconstruction of the garden could save a lot of time and labour. Steep grass banks, for instance, are a nuisance because they are not easily mown, and it might be possible to cut them back and by moving some soil make the slope less steep. Or it might be a good idea to build a dry stone retaining wall in which rock plants could be grown, eliminating the mowing chore at the same time. If the difference in levels is more than about lm (3ft) it might be wise to build the wall in two levels, with a border 30cm (lft) wide, about 60cm (2ft) above ground level, and a further wall and border behind.
Sometimes there are awkward steps to be negotiated in a garden with barrow or mower. It is often possible to make a gently sloping ramp where these implements may easily be pushed.
For those who find stooping or kneeling difficult there is much to be said for, which may be constructed of brick, stone or even paving slabs set edgewise.
Many plants that enjoy acid soil can be grown happily in a raised bed consisting of peat blocks and filled with a suitable acid soil mixture. Shade-loving plants may be inserted into the peat walls one side of the raised bed, sun-lovers the other side.
To minimize lawn edge trimming, lay a 30cm (1ft) wide strip of paving between borders and the lawn. This will also help to bring an air of informality to a border of hardy flowers because one can allow front row plants to flop on to the paving without damage to the turf.
- If the borders or beds are flanked by turf, grow stocky upright plants in the front of the border. These will not flop on to the lawn and cause bare patches. There are many to choose from, such as dwarf asters (Callistephus chinensis) and antirrhinums, African and French marigolds (Tagetes erecta, T. patula), gibraltarica, alyssum (Lobularia maritima, usually listed as Alyssum maritimum ), semperflorens and Coreopsis verticillata.
- Keep all cutting tools sharp. Also keep a sharp edge on hoes, using a file. A sharp hoe slips through the soil so much more easily than a blunt one. If you can afford stainless-steel tools always choose these as they are so easy to clean. Also look for hoes with a wavy edge as this greatly increases the cutting surface.
- When planting ground-cover plants spread black plastic sheeting over the ground and make holes in it to receive the plants. The plastic should be removed once the plants have grown together and covered the area.
- Replace grass or gravel paths with broken (crazy) or formal paving.
- Plant only bush fruit trees which may be pruned, sprayed or picked without having to climb ladders.