With so many garden tools to choose from, how do you know which are going to be the best for your garden? It is so tempting to buy multiple tools, which subsequently are not the right ones for the job and don’t get used. I have a cupboard of these to prove it. Let’s have a look at the main jobs that you do in your garden and the best tools to suit these.
It is a constant battle in my garden to remove onion grass, bindis, and a variety of weeds that seem to love my edging beds and vegetable patch. I prefer not to use chemicals and remove these by hand instead. Although it takes some time, it means that I am confident that my garden remains organic and a safe place for food to grow and my children to play.
Trowel and fork set
This set provides you with both a trowel and fork plus a short handle. You can also purchase a long handle which will save you from bending as much. I put the long handle onto my fork and spent the afternoon removing onion grass recently. I was so impressed by how easy it was to remove the whole weed, roots and all.
The trowel is the perfect tool for digging into beds to plant seedlings. I used this to dig through my vegetable patch and plant cucumbers, tomatoes, radish, capsicum, spring onions, lettuce and beetroot. The trowel has a useful point at the end which helps break up the ground and makes planting easier.
When I first started gardening, I bought a set of secateurs and assumed these would be up to every pruning job I gave them. Of course, they are not, but every gardener must have a good set of secateurs in their tool bag. There are so many times you will use these, from trimming a bush to cutting flowers for the house. Secateurs will give you a nice clean cut that protects your plant.
Once you start looking at secateurs you realise that there are plenty to choose from. You’ll discover anvil, bypass, ratchet and snips in the range. Suddenly I’m feeling quite overwhelmed.
How do I know which are the best for me?
Well to start with, secateurs are best used for pruning jobs up to 10 mm.
Bypass secateurs are the most common type. They will prune live stems and are recommended for pruning softer, stringier living stems. Because the convex shaped blade is sharp only on one side this allows for a sharp, precise cut beside the lower anvil. These secateurs can cut flush to a larger stem and so are commonly used by people in nurseries. If you are cutting flowers or herbs or vegetables these are perfect for the job. Bypass secateurs tend to favour right-handed gardeners.
Anvil Secateurs have an upper blade that is sharp on both sides and cuts down onto a flat anvil. Think a knife onto a chopping board in terms of action. As the blade is sharp on both sides, these secateurs are recommended for pruning tougher or woodier stems. The majority of ratchet secateurs are in the anvil design. This means that they are easier for people with arthritis or who have less strength in their hands to use as they make the job easier. Anvil secateurs are suited to both left and right-handed gardeners.
Snips have a scissor-like action. They are perfect for cutting flowers, propagating and working in smaller areas. These are popular with nurseries and florists.
With secateurs, the most important thing is that you are happy with the pair you’ve got. They should be the right weight for you and your hand should comfortably fit the handle. You should also find them simple to cut. Although bypass and anvil secateurs both have an ‘ideal’ job, it doesn’t matter if you use anvil on a softer stem or bypass on a woodier stem. It is more important that they are right for you.
When you need to prune thicker than 10 mm you need to look for a larger cutting blade and stronger action. Loppers will allow you to prune up to 50 mm in thickness. I sent my husband out for my first pair of loppers. He was trying to be cost conscious and came back with a pair that was unwieldy, difficult to use and never gave a clean cut. As with all garden tools, it is wise to spend a little more and know that the tool is up to the job and will have longevity.
Bypass ratchel loppers
Bypass ratchet lopper is the ideal tool for pruning branches up to 50 mm. The bypass blades allow you to trim a small branch neatly, flush to the main branch. These loppers give a lovely clean cut and at only 1.6 kg are an ideal weight for both ladies and men. The ratchet makes it easier to cut larger branches and the handles which extend to almost one metre in length allow you to trim higher up your plant.
Pruning saw – 300 mm with sheath
This pruning saw allows you to cut live and dead branches up to 150 mm. This saw has a blade which is designed to cut on the pull stroke. The sheath provides you with a safe place to store the saw so that little fingers are not tempted to touch the blade. This blade will suit most of the larger day to day jobs in your garden.
All tools that are used in the garden should be cleaned after use. This helps prevent the spread of disease and pests. Give them a wash to remove any dirt and debris. You should then wipe them over with methylated spirits and rub a little vegetable oil on to prevent rust.
Garden tool belt
I’m always putting down my smaller gardening tools and then not being able to find them. If you’re like me then this tool a must-have. The garden tool belt will fit the smaller tools you use in your garden such as your secateurs, snips or your gloves. There is even an ideal spot to carry paper and pen or your mobile phone.
As you start to get your tools ready this season, head over to Cut Above Tools to have a look at their full range. They offer tools that are excellent quality at a reasonable price. Not only that, but the tools they have which have moveable parts typically have spare parts available too. So you can undertake repairs giving your toolkit longevity and reducing landfill.
You might just find that perfect gift for someone else too.