These tools compliment the equipment listed in the Large Tools Article and are used by gardeners to deal with small tasks including weeding, planting and light garden maintenance. They serve a variety of purposes and should always be made from good quality materials. Likewise tools should be kept regularly sharpened and cleaned and have a light coating of rust inhibiting WD40 applied with a rag.
This is used for two main tasks; light weeding and planting. Light weeding will involve turning the soil and removing weeds and stones as they appear. Ideally, this tool should have a wooden handle and a relatively flat but sharp blade, narrowing towards a point at the end.
These are one of the most useful tools in the gardener’s collection. They are ideal for a number of pruning jobs around the garden and in the greenhouse. I personally have a pair of Wilkinson Sword snips with rubberized plastic handles and steel blades. The blades have long since lost their paint; however, regular sharpening on a whetstone has maintained their quality and the cleanness of their cut. As noted above, regular application of WD40 also assists in the longevity of the product. The handles should be soft, ideally covered in rubber, and with a comfortable grip and easy to reach clasp... usually operated by the thumb.
Hand shears are exceptionally useful for dealing with hedges, the edges of grass and dense evergreen trees. I have a pair of red Wolf-Tools shears with steel blades. The most important thing when choosing shears is that they are lightweight, have soft non slip handles and have a small rubber stop guard between the meet points of the baldes, to prevent jarring of the wrists when the shears are closed. This will assist in preventing Repetitive Strain Injuries and join damage through excessive use.
This tool is basically a long handled pair of segatuers??? used for cutting thick branches without the need for a pruning saw. A pair of loppers should not cost more than around £15 and should follow the same care principles as with other cutting tools in the garden. Never bend the loppers whilst cutting as you will probably bend the blades out of shape, instead always make sure they are suitable for the size of branch and revert to a pruning saw should that be necessary.
There are a number of tools that are marketed to fulfill this role and different tools will be marginally more suited to different jobs. I prefer to use a large pen-knife for weed removal in the grass as I can keep it sharp and the cuts remain precise. For between the patio slabs, however, where weeds seem to press through regardless of the mortar between them, I use a solid handled short scraping knife, by running it along the gaps and slicing the plants off at the roots. This method is far more effective (and cheaper) than weedkiller.
A large metal sieve is the last item of necessity in the Hand Tool section and is one seldom found in many amateur garden sheds. The sieve is ideally suited to small tasks that benefit from removing small stones and debris from the soil. Such activities would include preparing seed beds, sieving home-made compost for use in planting containers and for sieving soil over the top of vegetable seed rows. It is also useful for preparing small plots for growing root vegetables, as noted in the Creating a Vegetable Plot from Scratch – Preparing the Soil.
Article by Kevin Thornes
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