The tools every gardener should own and how to use them

5 04 2013

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Image via Flickr creative commons from dottieg2007

Everyone who loves their garden also has a set of favourite tools with which they prefer to maintain it. Much of this selection will depend on the use to which they choose to put their available space, but nevertheless anyone with the responsibility to maintain a garden, and a desire to make it look as attractive and be as productive as possible will have a list of tools which they feel they can’t do without.

All lists of must-have gardening tools are likely to vary, but Mother Nature Network, a forum for people who aspire to making the best possible use of the garden space they have available, has produced a list which gives a pointer to anyone looking to equip their garden tool box, which includes the following suggestions:

Scissors. These need not be any specialist product, but have many uses, including to dead-head flowers, cut herbs, harvest small vegetables, and of course, open all those bags of compost or potting soil which any serious gardener will use several of.

A weeding tool. These slender tools with long, pointed prongs are designed to reach easily far down into the soil and dig out the most deeply embedded roots of those pesky weeds.

A soil knife. A Japanese innovation, this implement has one flat, sharp edge and one serrated side. For the many instances in which a gardener needs to be able to cleanly cut through plant stems, for transplanting for example, cutting through dense earth, and cutting stubborn weed branches down to size, this is very useful.

Pruning shears. The fact that these implements can be easily carried in a pocket is one of their big benefits, but as many variants have tough, rubberised handles this is a great help for getting purchase when cutting through tough and stubborn branches and stems.

A water hose. With many countries suffering from declining rainfall, it’s important for gardeners to have a means of using the water from their domestic supply – or better still, their rainwater butt – to help give their garden the nutrition it needs.

A spade. A small spade with a long, narrow blade will get into most areas. It will also be easier to use in the hard clay soils which predominate in many areas.

A rake (or two). A large fan rake might save time, and be best for clearing large areas of leaves and other debris, but a more compact version will be easier to store. A flat-headed rake can also be turned over to be used to smooth out soil and blend it with what’s already in the bed.

A hoe. Ideal for tidying up and clearing the remains of roots from the edges of flower and vegetable beds, these help to get right into the extremities of the cultivatable area to remove any obstacles to the successful growth of plants, shrubs and veg.

Finally, given that most gardeners will be going outdoors when the weather is warm, having a comfortable hat to wear is a wise move, as it will stop you from having to cut short your gardening stint through the effects of the heat and exhaustion.

This website suggests that people choosing their gardening implements should divide their choices into long-handled tools, to help them reduce the amount of labour they need to expend on their outdoor work, watering tools, and hand tools. In the last of these categories it includes some items which might not usually be considered, such as a bypass pruner – a tool which enables the cutting of branches of delicate plants, fruits and vegetables without damaging the stems.

The title of this article is one of those which gives rise to choices which can be subjective. But the products listed above are listed on a number of authoritative gardening websites, so there is a wide consensus over their importance.

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