Best Tools for Gardening – Gardening Weeding Tools
Gardening Weeding Tools & Tools for Gardening
There is no need to choose the biggest and heaviest tools for gardening just because they may look the best. You need to be able to manage and handle the weeding tools as well as possible, so choose them wisely.
Essential Tools for Landscape Gardening :
The Garden Spade
The garden spade must be well balanced. To test this, find the point of balance by resting the shaft of the spade just above the blade in the palm of the left hand, then lay the back of the blade flat on the floor – the handle should be some l2 to l3 inches from the ground. If it is less than this the crank will make the spade too straight and uncomfortable to work.
Choose a light spade. This is particularly important for those who are not using it every day and, more especially, if theto be worked is a stiff clay. A good spade is expensive but the outlay will be worthwhile as it will last a lifetime.
Spades, like most other tools are well finished nowadays, but even so, I like to rub over all the woodwork and all the corners with a fine emery or glass paper, paying particular attention to the joints between wood and metal and to any rivets. After this, I give it a rub over with linseed oil and if you do this, you will have a tool that will not raise blisters on your hands. All you have to do then is to keep it clean.
A sharp spade makes the job of digging easier and a good spade should never be used for anything else, certainly not for chopping up and banging away at bricks or stones or used as a lever to heave out roots and rocks. My own spade has been in use for over 15 years and is as sharp as a razor.
And talking about sharpening: there is only one way to sharpen a spade and that is on the inside of the blade. To sharpen, get a good file, lay the spade on its back and either get someone to hold it on a bench or put it in a vice. Incidentally, if you do put it in a vice, put it between two pieces of wood or the jaws of the vice will roughen up the smooth metal shaft and may even distort it. Sharpen to a chisel edge and do not touch the back of the blade with the file. The abrasion caused by wear will tend to make it self-sharpening and so sharpening with a file need only be done on rare occasions.
When you start work in the garden it’s worth remembering that to get the greatest depth, the spade should be thrust vertically into the ground, preferably with the heel. The spadeful of soil has to be levered before it is turned over, so the greater the leverage the easier it is to loosen the spadeful of earth. When digging, moisture is a good lubricant and if your garden is of heavy clay or silt, then it pays to have a bucket of water handy to dip the spade into occasionally.
The spade, of course, is not a fine-weather tool and because so much care has gone into its making – and let’s face it tools are not cheap these days – it pays to keep it in good order. In the case of a spade, this simply means keeping it free from rust. True, a spade will take a long time to rust away, even if left exposed to the elements, but with the corrosive chemicals in the soil, particularly artificial fertilisers, the surface becomes pitted – and this can even happen overnight.
It is not so much the appearance that is important but the actual friction when in use. The easier the blade penetrates or is withdrawn from the soil the easier it will be to use. So, the brighter and shinier the spade the easier it will work.
A wedge-shaped piece of hardwood such as box or beech makes a useful scraper. This may sometimes also be used during digging. Before hanging up, wash and dry the spade if very dirty and then rub it with an oily rag which you can keep near your tool rack.
Alternatively, spray with an aerosol rust preventative.
The Garden Fork
Next in order of usefulness comes the garden fork and this might be regarded as complementary to the spade, much in the same way as the dinner fork is complementary to the knife. The fork can double up for the spade and it is often easier and more effective to dig wet, heavy clay or silty soil with a fork. Using a fork in this way has another advantage in that no hard pan can be left as the points of the times exert a scratching movement, rather than a scraping action when the tool is thrust into the soil to its extremity.
The fork, too, is extremely valuable in breaking down soil which has been either ploughed or roughly dug. Other obvious jobs are lifting root crops, such as potatoes, levering plants and weeds out of the ground and for loosening up the surface, as well as collecting rubbish.
A garden fork is also an invaluable and cheap way of aerating lawns.
Coming on to the subject of hoes, I still prefer a wooden shaft to a tubular steel one. Here again, in selecting a tool, the tubular steel shaft with a rubber grip is quite satisfactory for occasional use, but where it has to be used for long periods then wooden shafts of either hickory or ash will be found to be much kinder to the hands.
Every effort should be made to keep the shaft as straight as one would a fishing rod so do not put the hoe down where a barrow can be wheeled over it because if the handle becomes distorted it is almost as bad as having a twisted gun barrel and no great accuracy can be achieved.
I may be sticking my neck out here, but my observations lead me to believe that nine out of ten people have little idea how to use a hoe or, indeed, why they are using it. They have been exhorted to hoe, to chop down weeds and to produce a surface mulch to prevent loss of moisture.
There are two main types of hoe; the Dutch hoe, which you push and the draw hoe, which you drag or draw. These both come in various widths. Through misuse, most hoes become unserviceable after only a few years’ wear as the corners have been completely worn off and it is the corners which are so vital in the accurate picking off of weeds close up to crops.
The hoe should be used in such a way that the whole blade does the job and not just the corners. The angle at which the hoe is held and the angle of the blade in relation to the ground, determine the type of cut made and the job it is intended to do.
In practice this means the difference between penetrating the ground about 1 / 4 to 1/2 inch and actually cultivating the soil to a depth of 2 inches or more. Where hoeing is to be used on a fairly large area, there is nothing to beat a well-maintained and correctly-angled draw hoe, preferably of the swan-necked type. The angle of the blade is, of course, set in the factory but it is not set or adjusted for individual needs. Where a large area has to be hoed for the suppression of weeds, then when the shaft is held at a convenient angle to the user, the blade of the hoe should be flat with the ground. Where cultivation is to be deeper than this, then the blade is angled so that it cuts down rather than scrapes along the surface. Both Dutch and draw hoes are sharpened on the inside of the blade as, here again, the abrasion takes care of the outer surface.
The Garden Rake
This is more of a craftsman’s tool. It is sheer joy to watch a craftsman rake an onion bed and leave it as level and smooth as a billiard table as well as being fine and silky to the depth of the teeth. A good twelve-tine rake with square shoulders and a good handle is essential.
Keep the handle true and straight by hanging. Never leave it lying about and never stand a rake up against a post, fence or wall with the teeth facing towards you. If you don’t understand what this means and you ever chance to step on the teeth with your toe, you will get such a crack on the nose that you will never forget to turn the back of the rake towards you when resting it upright.
Make sure you have all of the right tools for gardening and you will soon be on your way to having a superbly landscaped garden too!