There is a vast array of garden tools on the market. Here I will share the ones that we wouldn’t be without.
Garden Forks We have four tools that we use regularly for digging. The one I use most is the border fork. I find it far easier to use for general digging and the smaller size means that I’m not lifting too much weight. A border fork us also sometime called a ladies’ fork but this really only refers to the smaller size - my husband uses it too. Fork handles either end in a T or D shape and I much prefer the D-shaped handles. Maybe this is just because it is what I am used to but I just find I can drip this type of handle easier. Most forks that I have found when browsing the Internet do have D-shaped grips.
Our larger garden fork is used when we need to dig deeper such as when trying to dig out really deep rooted docks.
There are now forks and spades available that have longer handles designed to save the taller gardeners from back strain.
Garden Spade At least one garden spade is essential - we have two. Again we have a general digging spade and a border spade which is smaller.
The same comments as made about garden forks could also be made about choosing a spade or spades.
You can buy lots of different specialised spades but w have never needed any so consider what you will use a spade for before investing in anything with a special function.
Hoe We have three types of hoe. A Dutch hoe, a claw hoe and a draw hoe.
The Dutch hoe is also called a push hoe as it is operated using a pushing motion. It’s main task is to chop off weeds at ground level - frequent use of a Dutch hoe keeps weeds down.
A draw hoe is also called a pull hoe and is operated using a pulling motion. This is useful for drawing out shallow trenches and also for earthing up potatoes.
The claw hoe is also called a cultivator and is used for breaking up the surface of the soil.
Garden rake A garden rake is used to create a smooth level surface in which to plant - it is also used to level ground prior to laying a lawn. It Is also a useful for raking stones from beds.
Long handled fork Our final long handled tool is a long handled small headed fork which I use to loosen up soil around plants especially after it has been compacted by heavy rain.
Hand tools These are tools with short handles designed to be used when kneeling or sitting on the ground. Again there is a vast range of tools available and the ones mentioned here are the ones that we not only own but actually find useful.
Trowel Every gardener needs at least one trowel. We have several as we often both need to use a trowel at the same time - for instance when there is lots of planting out to do. Rather than dig a deep trench we have been using a trowel to plant our potatoes for several years now - much easier and the crops are as good. I’ve written and article describing how we plant our potatoes here.
As well as the wider headed trowel with have one with a narrow head - it was free with something but it has been useful when the regular trowel is either too wide or doesn’t dig deeply enough for instance when planting bulbs.
Loppers, shears and secateurs The final group of tools that we wouldn’t be without are the cutting tools.
We have a pair of secateurs used for pruning - prices vary considerably, a strong pair is a good investment as cheaper models are often not much good at cutting through fairly thick branches.
For those branches that are too thick for ‘normal’ secateurs or to prune at a level too high to reach with their shorter cousins we have a long handled lopper - you can buy telescopic models but ours isn’t.
Then we have a pair of ordinary garden shear for cutting areas of grass inaccessible to the mower when it wouldn’t be worth getting out and firing up the strimmer.
Finally we have a pair of long handled edging shears which give a neater edge to our garden lawn than the strimmer. The long handles mean that you don’t end up with backaches having had to edge from a crouching position.
If you need to prune fairly thick branches you will find a pruning saw to be useful.
Also most gardeners wouldn’t be without a gardening knife.
Hand Fork I use this for the same task as the long handled fork, the difference being that this tool is used when kneeling, sitting or crouching. Sometimes you need to get down and personal with your plants. This tool is used when hand weeding too.
Onion hoe A onion hoe is great for weeding where weeds are growing very close to plants that you do not want to disturb like onions which I suppose is where it got its name from..
I’m not totally sure that a wheelbarrow belongs in an article about gardening tools but I’m including it here as I can’t think of a more appropriate category.
A wheelbarrow is an essential piece of equipment if you have an allotment as there will always be things that need moving around if it’s only spent crops and weeds needing transporting to the compost heap. If you only have a garden then much will depend on how big your garden is and how it is used. If your garden is built on terraces then a wheelbarrow is unlikely to feature on your list of useful equipment.
As our wheelbarrow is left on the plot we just have a cheap and cheerful version but even when choosing this we had to consider some variables. For instance the wheelbarrow had to be the right size for manoeuvring along our paths and in between gaps.
We also wanted a wheelbarrow that when piled high didn’t lose it’s load as soon as it was tipped up to be pushed. If possible test drive a range of designs to find a design that suits you.
You can choose between a metal and plastic ‘tray’. Bear in mind that metal will rust when left out in the elements - ours does but is still fit for purpose even if it doesn’t look attractive. It’s less likely to be stolen when left on the plot.
The wheel can be solid or the type that need to be pumped up like a bicycle wheel. At one time ball shaped wheels were in fashion but these now seem to have fallen by the wayside. You can also buy barrows with two wheels but again these are not usually the preferred option.