Advice for gardening ideas are all most welcome. Anything to get great results and save you time can only be a help and a bonus.
Mulching with organic substances can make less work as well as enriching the. Decorative mulches of pebbles, shingle or gravel can be used round trees or groups to intensify the effect of contrast of textures and shapes. These mulches keep the soil cool and help to keep down weeds.
Where a very weedy patch exists and plant roots might become too disturbed in one’s efforts to remove the weeds, these can be killed by laying black polythene over them and weighting it down. Even strong brown paper will have this effect. It needs to be left in position for a few months where the weeds are very bad. I have successfully cleared dandelions, docks and convolvulus this way.
For the smaller garden the basic hand tools are sufficient: indeed, sometimes they are better. But make sure that they are always kept in good condition and buy the best available. It is not an easy discipline to follow, but it is worth while cleaning tools and giving them a quick rub over with an oil rag at the end of each working session in the garden.
It is well worth while too having a special place in the garage or shed for each of your tools so you know exactly where it is each time it is required for any particular task.
It’s far better to buy a few basic tools of top quality than to spend the same sum on a wider range of dubious quality, for breakages at an inconvenient time can be frustrating indeed.
The basic tools, without which gardening simply cannot be carried out are a spade, a fork, a rake and a pair of clippers, pruners or shears. As you use them you will gradually find that another tool would simplify one task or be more convenient for others and so you will enlarge your armoury. A hand fork and trowel, a hoe of some kind and perhaps a scarifier or cultivator may very well prove to be required.
Eventually, when you are a veteran gardener you will find that you keep specialised tools for certain tasks and that your range is very wide indeed. But learn from personal experience and convenience rather than impersonal advice.
Try to tailor your garden tools to your own height and strength. A border fork is smaller and lighter than a digging fork and if you are small and not too strong you can get more work done with the smaller model than the larger. Watch handle lengths for tools such as rakes and hoes. The most convenient and easily managed height or length for such a tool is one which is some six to nine inches less than your own height. Longer than this the handle will get in your way, shorter you will find you are having to lean forward and so tire yourself.
Many tools can be bought specially or adapted for left-handed gardeners and more and more tools are being made for elderly or partially disabled gardeners. A hand fork mounted on a long handle, for example, enables those who cannot bend too well to weed and fork over a wide border which would otherwise entail kneeling, bending and even crawling among the plants. And for those who can kneel but find it difficult both to get down to this position and then rise again, there are special kneeling stools with tall handles.
Powered garden tools can be bought to do many of the mundane gardening jobs – such as collecting leaves from the lawn in the autumn, but many still consider these such powered garden tools to be an expensive luxury.
New materials have been very helpful to the gardener. Stainless steel and chrome-treated rust-resistant metals slide through sticky soils with less effort and are so much easier to clean. Aluminium alloy handles are lighter in weight and stronger. Plastic-coated handles are smooth, cannot splinter and again are easily cleaned. Plastic buckets, garden trugs, watering cans and even wheelbarrows are so much lighter in weight, are easily cleaned and cannot rust.
To save you having to go back to the garden shed or garage each time you need a new tool for a different operation, it is possible to obtain special tool racks. These may be mounted on wheels or they may be attached to a wheelbarrow.
Finally two products which may not be regarded strictly as tools but which I find invaluable when working in the garden : gloves and labels. Garden gloves can be light cotton, light or heavy plastic or even heavy leather. I compromise and use a medium weight plastic and I find that not only do my hands stay cleaner, but they are protected from scratches, cuts and bruises. I always keep two pairs going, for they are apt to become moist and unpleasant inside.
With the possible exception of certain plants, such as trees which may be unmistakable, every plant in the garden should be accompanied by a label. It is almost impossible to remember the name of everything and at. Certain times of the year impossible to be quite sure of the location of some plants. There are many types of label and it pays to get the best you can afford, for one which is torn to tatters in winter winds or which quickly becomes illegible is simply a waste of time.