Basic Garden Tools for the Beginner Gardener
One could very quickly fillshed with a massive array of and the very wide range of equipment which is available today is very tempting.
There are, however, several basic tools with which most of the essential and basic routine garden work can be carried out. To the new gardener this is an important point to note because, more often than not, expenditure on tools for the garden must be limited. It is a simple and convenient matter to add to a basic collection from time to time.
Tools for the tilling or cultivation of the soil are vital and the backbone of any collection of equipment is the digging spade and fork. Unless selected with a little care, these two tools can be uncomfortable and tiring to use. Look for a comfortable handle or grip. The latest designs are made from plastics which are smooth and very comfortable. If possible, go through the motions of digging, in the shop or garden centre and do select a spade or fork which is not heavy for you personally. Good balance is another useful buying point. Although the beautiful stainless steel tools reduce effort, especially in the wet or heavier soils, they are quite expensive and a good steel untreated design will prove just as useful — but do keep the tools clean.
There are smaller editions of the digging spade and fork known as the border spade and fork. The working heads (blade or tines) are much smaller and generally the two tools are lighter to handle. They can be used for general work but are especially useful for cultivating in between plants.
Another essential tool is the rake. Try to purchase one which has at least to teeth. The more teeth there are the better the finish or break down of the soil which can be achieved. Many teeth will also ensure easier and better coverage of seeds and seed drills. Cross-raking of the soil surface will produce a better break down of large soil particles and will ensure a finer finish.
There are many different hoe designs. A draw hoe is very useful for taking out seed drills and for earthing-up operations. The Dutch hoe is essential for keeping down weeds. A useful variant of the Dutch hoe is one which has two serrated cutting edges. This can be used with a push-pull action and deals with weeds very efficiently.
A wheelbarrow can play an essential part in the routine garden work, especially where a new garden is being created. There will be a lot of soil and rubble to move about and even in the established garden, the wheelbarrow can be kept busy throughout the year. There are autumn leaves to collect, not to mention all those grass mowings. Several types of wheelbarrow are available with large or small capacities. The lightweight yet strong design with two wheels is highly manouverable. The sloping front and closeness to the ground enables the user to tip it forward and sweep debris into it.
A length of good quality hose will be required for watering in and around the garden. There are new designs available now with specially strengthened walls which withstand high water pressures. It is very important that a hose pipe is stored correctly, otherwise it becomes kinked and splits may occur. The purchase of a hose reel or holder will be a sound investment.
The correctis important also and a sprinkler will ensure this. Many different versions are on the market and these provide coverages which will suit the small garden or the very large one. An oscillating sprinkler is a very efficient versatile type. It can be set to water different areas or patterns and thoroughly soaks the ground.
Pruning is an essential task and a good pair of secateurs is essential. There are heavy-duty models which will deal with quite tough wood as well as lightweight models which can be conveniently slipped into the pocket. Normally, a general purpose type which is strong enough to deal with a wide variety of woods and thicknesses will be adequate.
For planting large specimens such as trees, shrubs etc, the spade can be used, but for smaller plants a hand trowel and fork should be used. A stainless steel pair would be a good investment. Comfortable, smooth handles are important.
One of the most useful pieces of equipment is a lawn-mower. The range of machines is considerable and the choice will be conditioned by the area and type of grass which has to be cut. For the average lawn, a 12-14 in. cylinder mower is suitable, especially where a good close cut is desired. The rotary mower will cut reasonably rough, tough and tall grass as well as the normal domestic lawn, but it will give a close cut. For complete ease of starting the electric mower or the battery-powered types should be selected. The former are available in light, easy to manoeuvre designs or in larger and heavier forms for largerrequirements. The battery-powered mowers are heavy but are still ideal for the woman gardener, provided the machine has not to be negotiated over steps or other difficult places. Battery mowers are easy to recharge as they are supplied with a special charger. During the winter, an occasional charge should be given.
Grass-collection is a point worth considering when the rotary mowers are being looked at. Some of the cheaper models do not have this facility. Others have a simple yet efficient designed ‘solid’ box.
Pest anddepends a lot on efficient spraying equipment. The capacity of the sprayer should be closely considered and for the larger garden the compression or pressure sprayer is most suitable. Some of the simpler types have a suction hose with strainer which is placed in a container or bucket of spray. Long-reach lances with adjustable nozzles are other good buying points.