It’s easy to rush to the hardware store or garden center and buy the first tool you see, but well-designed tools make a huge difference in their effectiveness, lifespan and ease of use.
The Who? Gardening experts explain how to buy the best tools that will do the job well and last for many years so they’re better for your pocket and the environment.
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Even “no-dig” gardeners find a shovel a useful tool as it is perfect for digging planting holes for taller plants, such as shrubs, and for moving and spreading mulch. Traditional gardeners use their spade to turn the soil and incorporate a soil amendment.
When looking for a spade, check that the length is suitable for your height. To do this, hold the spade as you would if you were about to drive it into the ground. The height of the handle suits you if you lean slightly on it. Also get an idea of its weight, as a heavier spade can be tiring to use for long periods of time. Check the softness of the handle, as rough surfaces can irritate your hands, and determine if a wooden or plastic handle would work best for you.
Forks are ideal for preparing beds for planting, as well as harvesting root vegetables and digging up perennials and shrubs, and they’re especially useful for gardens with heavy clay or compacted soil. Just like spades, it’s important to have a comfortable sleeve length for your height. It is important to buy a good one, as poor quality ones often bend during use.
Indispensable for pruning, the pruner is a tool that can last a lifetime, especially if you choose a brand that offers maintenance and replacement parts. A well-designed pair will have sharp blades and comfortable handles that will allow you to continuously trim without hurting your hand. Check that the size is comfortable in your hand and if you are left-handed, look for a model designed specifically for your needs. Try opening and closing the blades with the latch to see if it feels comfortable and doesn’t hurt your hands. Sometimes the sockets are in awkward positions, which makes them a pain to use.
This one may be a more controversial inclusion in the list as some prefer to go without gloves. However, gloves make handling stingy, stingy plants much more comfortable. They also protect your skin from the drying effects of handling soil and prevent embedded dirt in your fingers and nails.
The most obvious thing to check is that the gloves are the right size for your hands. They are usually sold in different sizes, so take the time to measure your hands and choose the ones that are right for you. It’s a good idea to try them on and check for any uncomfortable seams or if you feel like you can’t feel what you’re doing. Lightweight gloves are best for more skilled tasks, like sowing seeds, while heavy-duty gloves are great for preventing thorns when pruning. Some gloves handle wet conditions better than others and it’s a matter of personal choice whether or not you like longer cuffed gloves.
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Depending on the size of your garden and your interests, there are other tools you may find useful: