If you’re looking to get green-fingered and start gardening this year, it can be a little overwhelming knowing where to begin. The choice of tools, equipment and gardening gear can feel never-ending to the beginner. However, even the most seasoned gardener has a basic set of tools that see him through most of the year - these have probably been in his arsenal since his first gardening days! Here’s a list of our top 5 essential tools to get you started.
Protecting your hands from splinters and thorns, gardening gloves are essential throughout the seasons. Fabric gloves are the most affordable option, and can be found with reinforced finger and palm pads for extra durability. However, these can easily get wet and are best used for quick jobs during the summer. Coated gloves provide a robust, waterproof option that will see you through most of the year, whilst heavy-duty pigskin and leather gloves will protect you from even the sharpest of thorn bushes.
Handheld and lightweight, a trowel is a versatile tool that is used for digging out small weed patches and planting herbs and flowers. Stainless steel shovels are the most durable and will provide you with years of use. Aim for a trowel that has a pointed shovel, rather than a square edge. This makes it much easier to dig precise holes and helps cut through any tough areas, such as soil that’s heavy with clay or rocks.
Pruning and deadheading plants is a year-round job, so a good quality pair of secateurs is essential to keeping your garden neat and healthy. As they are handheld, you want a pair of secateurs that are lightweight yet sturdy, with a good safety catch to prevent any nasty accidents. A good pair of secateurs will cut through tough bushes and branches without too much trouble. You’ll probably come across two types of secateurs - anvil and bypass. Bypass secateurs work similar to scissors and it’s these you’re likely to use the most in everyday gardening.
A garden fork is one of the most versatile tools for preparing and maintaining your garden. It can be used for breaking up hard soil, digging up heavily weeded areas and aerating the soil. It’s much better than a spade for stony ground, as the prongs can hinge underneath rocks, lifting them out. Steel options are the most durable and will last you a lifetime of gardening. Look for forks with long handles. These will allow you to use your weight on them when digging, as well as providing you with added leverage for breaking up tough soil areas.
Not technically a tool, but a quick and easy way of watering your plants is often overlooked. Water is the lifeblood of gardens, so you need to ensure your plants are getting enough of it, especially during the dry summer months. Pots and hanging baskets need particular attention, and a small watering can is perfect for keeping these delicate plants healthy.