Garden Tools & Equipment Essentials: Large Tools...
The common gardener should not be without a number of essential tools in the shed, which will help in several situations in the gardening calendar. The tools contained within this article are all manual and the list does not include electrical gardening equipment, only their manual counterparts.
This tool is the backbone of the gardener’s armoury and serves a multitude of jobs around the garden. Such tasks include digging and turning the earth (see the How to Create a Veg Plot – Preparing the Soil article), edging the lawn with the rear of the blade, digging holes for planting and moving soil and compost around the garden. I have also found that I prefer to use a border spade (sometimes called a Ladies Spade) as it is smaller, lighter and thus quicker to use. I can work three times as fast with this style of tool in comparison to those who insist upon heavy cumbersome traditional ones. In addition, always choose a spade with a smooth wooden handle.
This is used solely for digging and seldom serves other purposes in the garden. I always use a fork with a wooden shaft, and wooden handle. Always make sure the weight and height of the fork (and spade) are comfortable to wield. Too heavy and the tool will end up damaging your spine.
This tool is one of the most useful in the gardener’s collection. It is ideal for quickly working over the top few inches of topsoil and removing weeds. The blade should be kept sharp as this will assist in keeping the hoeing action smooth and swift.
There are two types of garden rake, one for soil and the other for leaves/lawns. The common soil rake should be solidly built, with a head no longer than 12inches and crafted from metal, securely fixed to a wooden shaft. Lightweight aluminum, which is increasing in popularity, will bend easily in heavy soil and should generally be avoided. The leaf/lawn rake should be lightweight and is best crafted entirely from lightweight materials such as aluminum in this instance, as it will not need to withstand heavy grafting.
Pick or Mattock
This might seem like an unusual addition to the gardener’s inventory, however, I acquired one a few years back and would not be without one since. The tool is extremely useful for heavy digging and this is one occasion where a sturdy build and excess weight will actually be beneficial. When attempting to remove stumps, heavy obstacles and even dig heavily compacted soils, I found that my wrists would often jar and become sore and painful. The pick changes the direction of impact from the jabbing motion of the spade to a swinging motion instead. It makes light work of tough jobs, including lifting turf too and despite its fearsome looks can be used with increasing precision on weeding and clearance tasks in overgrown gardens.
Half-Moon Iron (this part is not so much a recommendation as a review!)
This tool has received increasing popularity over past years as a result of several gardening programmes. I am of the opinion, however, that this tool is poorly suited to the task of edging lawns, which should instead be left to the border spade as noted above.
Article by Kevin Thornes
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