Garden Editorial published in the April 2016 edition of The Billboard:
Turning a good garden into a great one takes time and effort. The correct tools and equipment will cut down on time spent on maintenance tasks
1. Gardening gloves: A good quality pair of gloves will stand you in good stead for a number of seasons. They protect your hands from injury and the drying effects of soil. Look for comfortable gloves made from durable fabrics such as cotton or suede, with a waterproof lining over the palms.
2. Hand tools set: A set of hand tools is needed for planting seeds, seedlings or bulbs in beds or containers, and for weeding. A starter kit typically contains a shovel rake, fork and weeder; larger kits can include pruning tools.
3. Secateurs: Use secateurs for deadheading flowers and keeping plants tidy. Bypass secateurs, where the blades move past one another, are suited for those hard-to-reach places. Anvil secateurs have one blade that cuts against a metal anvil and are strong enough to handle harder stems, For comfort and good grip, choose a size that fits your hand. Left-handed secateurs are available.
4. Hedge clippers: Also called hedge shears, these are ideal for shaping shrubs and trimming hedges. They are designed for cutting through soft stems and leaves, but not for pruning harder wood. If you have a number of hedges in your garden, consider an electric hedge trimmer to cut down on maintenance time.
5. Watering can: This enables you to quickly water containers, seedlings or newly sowed seeds without having to turn on the hosepipe. For ease of use, choose a watering can with a 3 liter capacity and a long spout for hanging baskets. Display an attractive watering can in the garden and use when needed.
6. Water-saving trigger nozzle: A hosepipe can pump out an astounding 30 liters of water every minute. A water-saving trigger nozzle allows you to use water right where and when you need it. A spray adjustment setting allows for flow adjustment, for example, applying a soft mist of water over germinating seeds.
7. Spade and rake: A long-handled spade with a flat blade that can be sharpened is adequate for most garden jobs. A leaf rake is effective for raking up leaves and for general tidying. Garden rakes are straight metal rakes that can be used to level off a bed or rake over mulch.
8. Loppers: Best for pruning branches up to 5cm thick, loppers can get into tight spaces. Blades are either bypass or anvil and should be coated to resist sticky sap. Loppers with longer handles offer greater leverage for thicker branches.
9. Pruning saws: If you have trees in your garden you will need a few good saws. Pruning improves a plant’s appearance and encourages new growth. A pruning saw is best for branches thicker that 3cm and a bow saw for those thicker than 5cm.
10. Leaf blower: Deciduous trees can increase your workload in autumn. A leaf blower will reduce time spent attending to leaves. It can also be used throughout the year to clean off driveways and paved areas. For safety, use tools for the jobs for which they were designed. To prevent rust and to prolong the life of your tools, always clean them thoroughly before you pack them away.