Do you find yourself roaming the aisles of the hardware store looking at the hundreds of tools you could potentially purchase for your garden? Alongside the essentials, you’ll find everything from a never-ending array of shovels to the latest in cordless power tools. As tempting as it may be to spend your whole landscaping budget kitting out the shed, there comes a point when you have to ask yourself, “What do I actually need to maintain my garden?”
If you’re new to gardening, or just want to update your arsenal, these are the essential tools of the trade every gardening needs.
Gear to dig and move
It might seem obvious, but a solid shovel, wheelbarrow and rake should be your first additions. You don’t need to spend big money. A shovel is a shovel is a shovel. I solid steel shovel, steel shaft and handle with welded joints costs less than $10 and will last a lifetime. Likewise, a basic steel or poly tray barrow is essential for moving gear, mixing concrete, demolition work and all forms of construction. Look for quality brands with at least an 80L capacity, welded joints, solid nuts and bolts, front stays, timber handles and a wide air filled wheel for all terrain.
For more serious garden maintenance, a mattock (half axe, half hoe, half sledgehammer!), digging spade (sharp flat blade useful for cutting into firm ground), shifting shovel (long-handled shovel to give more leverage) and breaker bar (long steel bar with spiked and tapered ends for breaking concrete and clay) will save your back and make short work of most heavy duty garden digging situations.
Gear to snip and cut
Once your gardens are planted out and growing beautifully, you’ll need to maintain order. The options are endless from hand tools to power, but keep it simple with a quality set of secateurs, hedge shears and a sharp pruning hand saw. Fine pruning up to 2cm branches will be taken care of with your secateurs, hedges kept in line with your sheers, and heavy-duty trimming and pruning with your hand saw.
Gear to encourage healthy growth
Once you’ve planted your gardens (or acquired them), you’ll need to ensure you’re equipped to feed and nurture your plants on an ongoing basis.
All purpose organic fertiliser such as Multi-PRO or Organic Xtra. What you’re looking for is a general purpose multi-ingredient fertiliser useful in a multitude of applications. Something you can throw by the handful around a new planting, under some new turf, or over the gardens when mulching. Choosing an organic-based palletised product will mean it can be used on all but the pickiest plants, and you’re less likely to burn them if you apply a little too liberally!
Slow release turf and garden fertiliser such as ECO 88. Every avid greenskeeper will have a nitrogen-rich slow release fertiliser on the ready just in case that summer shower rolls in. Make the most of the rain events by getting that Fert out there, even at 10 PM at night!
Liquid plant tonic such as Seasol or Charlie Carp. These can be applied year round, will never burn or harm any plant and stimulate healthy and vigorous growth. It can be applied to plants and grass as regularly as every fortnight. Keep an easy refillable ready-to-use hose clip-on variety in the shed for easy application. Spray on the foliage, the soil and your grass regularly.
Gypsum to help break down the heavy clay soils located all around SEQ. Work into the soils when planting out new beds, use under turf to help condition the sub-base or even use as a top dressing after turf aeration.
These are by no means the only soil additives or fertilisers you will need, they are a basic collection that will keep you out of trouble. Always consult with your nursery or garden professional for specific additives for other circumstances. Let us know in the comments section what you would include and why!
Garden tool care and maintenance
Like anything else, garden implements perform better and last longer when they’re shown a little care. Never leave them outside unnecessarily. Maintain any timber handles with an annual oiling (a 50/50 mix of linseed oil and turpentine is recommended) and consider investing in a sharpening stone to keep your blades in optimum cutting condition. Metal bladed tools like secateurs and pruning shears should simply be wiped down after use and will benefit from a regular coating of WD-40 to prevent rust and corrosion.