The Garden Guide

Garden Tool Advice

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Every craftsmen has a collection of tools in which:

  • some tools are in constant use
  • other tools were bought in hope and neglected thereafter

It is the same with garden tools. And it is easy to remember the words of a keen gardener (Winston Churchill) when choosing tools "We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire...Give us the tools and we will finish the job." A bad workman blames his tools; a good workman chooses and looks after them with loving care. If a tool becomes rusty, it will become less efficient and thus more labour-intensive. Garden tools should be wiped, cleaned and put away after use.

Spades and trowls need to be sharpened. Saws should be greased after use. Secateurs and prunners should be oiled. Newly developed tools should be looked at with scepticism.

All sharpening should be done in motions away from your body. Between each stroke away from you, lift the file from the tool and reposition it in your starting position. Beveled blades should only be sharpened on the beveled side.

General stores tend to stock cheap garden tools. Specialist tool retailers also stock more expensive and better quality tools. They are worth paying for.

When choosing garden tools with a wooden handle, the wood should be straight-grained and made of a wood that will not splinter easily, such as ash or hickory. If the grain of the wood is sloped, the wood will not be as strong.

All steel is an iron alloy. High carbon steel is steel containing more than 0.5% carbon. High carbon steel is stronger than steel with a lower carbon content, though it may be more brittle. Stainless steel is an iron alloy composed of iron, chromium, nickel and carbon. The addition of chromium (about 15%) makes stainless steel highly resistent to rust and corrosion. Stainless steel is more expensive than high carbon steel.

A Roman Gardener and his tools (at Fishbourne Roman Palace).

A good use for a wheel barrow.