Gardening tools buying guide

Embrace outdoor living and connect with nature by taking care of your garden. Every outdoor space is different, so the tools you need to cultivate yours will vary according to size and complexity. 

There are 3 main things to consider when buying gardening tools: durability, function and comfort. Think about their weight and handle length – do they suit your strength and build?

How often you'll be using your tools will determine how much you want to spend, and how long you need your tools to last. Read on for more advice and information.

Gardening power tools

Lawnmowers

If you have a grass lawn in your garden, a lawnmower could be the most important gardening tool you buy. There are lots of different types out there, so we've narrowed the different options to help you find one that's right for you.

Electric lawnmowers

Electric lawnmowers are generally cheaper, lighter and easier to maintain than their petrol counterparts. They also tend to be quieter, and are great at tackling patches of long grass. You can either go for a cordless model, or choose a corded version and an extension lead to stretch further in those hard to reach spots.

Most electric lawnmowers are hand propelled which means you will need to push the lawnmower along. A self-propelled lawnmower provides forward power, so it’s lighter to control and easier on your arms. Most will have fold-down handles for easier storage in a small shed or garage.


Pressure washers

For cleaning all hard external surfaces like paving, patios, and decking, a pressure washer is a good place to start..

Pressure washers deliver a powerful, concentrated jet of water removing dirt more effectively than a brush and actually use less water than a garden hose.

The specifications of pressure washers will differ with price, but some of the features below provide an idea of what to look out for.

Water flow rate and pressure: The higher the pressure and water flow rate, the more the pressure washer can clean; for example, a medium-class pressure washer can clean stone walls and barbecues, whereas an entry-class model is suited for smaller jobs such as paving.

Detergent tank: This lets you pump cleaning solutions through the nozzle, and is ideal for removing tougher stains such as oil or grease.

Wheels: Important if you need easy access or manoeuvrability.

On board storage: This is a handy feature, especially if you buy attachments at a later date.

Some models come complete with extra attachments such as a spray lance or even patio cleaner attachments, but you can buy additional accessories for your pressure washer here .

Pressure washers

Shredders, Blowers & Sweepers

For the removal of any large branches after trimming, a shredder will make light work of your debris. The capacity is the biggest thing to consider when purchasing. Look out for models with wheels for easy manoeuvrability around the garden.

If your outside space is covered with damp, wet leaves, a leaf blower or a garden vacuum tackles the problem head on. A blower can be used to direct the leaves to an area where you can collect them easily. This is useful if you have a lot of leaves to collect, or if you’d prefer a lighter tool to carry.

A blower and vacuum keeps your options open as it does both. The vacuum sucks up the leaves, shreds them and collects them in a bag to be emptied on your compost heap. To make life easier, you could blow the leaves into a corner near the compost, suck them up and shred them right next to it.

Petrol lawnmowers

For bigger or uneven lawns, a cordless petrol model is ideal as they have more power and larger cutting widths. Most petrol lawnmowers are also self-propelled, which makes it even easier on inclines or uneven terrain. These models do tend to be more expensive, and as they’re petrol-run, they can be a bit noisy.

When choosing your lawnmower, consider whether or not it comes with a built-in grass collector;  the larger the grass collector, the fewer the trips to the compost heap.  A mower with a mulching device is ideal – though more expensive – because it re-cuts the clippings into tiny pieces and blows them back on to the lawn, where they break down and nourish the grass.

 


If mowing the lawn really isn’t your thing, you can always put your feet up and let a robotic remote-controlled lawnmower such as Robomow do the job. These are best suited for smaller gardens, and prices start in the region of a £1000.


Blowers and sweepers

If your outside space is covered with damp, wet leaves, a leaf blower or a garden vacuum tackles the problem head on.

A blower can be used to direct the leaves to an area where you can collect them easily. This is useful if you have a lot of leaves to collect, or if you’d prefer a lighter tool to carry.

A blower and vacuum keeps your options open as it does both. The vacuum sucks up the leaves, shreds them and collects them in a bag to be emptied on your compost heap. To make life easier, you could blow the leaves into a corner near the compost, suck them up and shred them right next to it.

Blowers and sweepers

Hedge cutters

For thicker, tougher hedge branches, a petrol hedge cutter will provide unlimited power. Blade type is also important – a double reciprocating blade will cut in any direction, which is perfect for unruly hedges. A single long blade will give you extra reach when cutting along edges. The wider the spacing between the teeth of the blades, the thicker the branches you can trim.

For smaller box hedges, go with an electric model. These only have a single blade, but this also makes them lightweight. An anti-vibration system, blade-tip protectors and ergonomic handles are good to look out for, as they’ll make operation simpler and safer.

Hand gardening tools


Spades, Forks & Rakes

A decent rake will keep your lawn free from leaves, while a weed fork has sharp, short prongs to make light work of dandelions and the like without getting your hands too dirty. Spades are great for digging flower beds – those with D-handles can be uncomfortable, while a T-handle is much better if you have larger hands.

A good garden fork is your flower bed’s best friend as it’s great for turning the soil, which helps to aerate and mix nutrients. Be careful not to confuse this with a pitchfork, which has much thinner prongs. For smaller areas, a hand-held cultivator will do this job nicely with its specially-designed head. Be sure to choose the right length of fork or spade for your height to minimise back strain.

Maintaining your soil
Planting


Shears, Hoes & Trowels

Getting a well-defined edge to your garden beds will help tidy up the whole look, so your floral display really stands out. The small, sharp head of a Dutch hoe is perfect for this, as it’s easy to control and slips through soil smoothly.

Hand shears are perfect for trimming grass around the edges of your flower beds or driveway, and can also be used for shaping hedges and shrubs. Secateurs can be used for cutting wood up to 1-2 inches thick, and are easier to use than a standard knife. Loppers are ideal if you have lots of trees or long, thick branches in the garden – it’s best to go for a pair with hardened stainless steel blades and comfortable handles.

A good hand trowel should tackle most of your planting needs, and they’re usually available with different sized handles to suit your garden layout. For larger plants, you may want to consider a border spade instead.

Edging

Essential accessories

Hoses & watering accessories

A garden hose can be used for watering plants and cleaning your car or outdoor furniture. Depending on the size of your garden, the average length of a hose ranges from 50 to 30 metres and in width by ½ to ¾ inches.

What thickness and length you choose will depend on the size of your garden and how much water you need; if your outdoor space is quite large, it’s probably better to go for a hose that stretches quite far.

Wheelbarrows

If you've a lot of work to do in the garden, a wheelbarrow could be essential. They’re ideal for transporting tools, soil and plants and flowers. Go for a heavy duty, rust-free option, with puncture-proof wheels so you can use it on any terrain.

Gloves, Aprons & Kneelers

Gloves are great for protective hand from harsh weather, sharp twigs and bushes and make holding heavy tools much more comfortable. You could also opt for a padded garden kneeler to save your knees while you plant and dig.

An apron will prevent you from getting dirty while your gardening, and gardener’s utility belt is handy for holding small tools and personal items like glasses and keys.

Caring for your tools

  • If you keep your tolls sharp, clean and in good repair, they should last longer
  • Spray a light coating of general-purpose oil over metal parts to prevent rusting, and if your tools do begin to rust with age, just use a wire brush to freshen them up
  • Have the blades of your power tools sharpened and balanced by a professional if they are chipped or blunt
  • Remove dried soil from wooden handles with a stiff brush, or a damp cloth – be sure not to soak the wood, as this may cause the handle to swell.
  • Oil your tool handles at the end of each season to make them last as long as possible
  • Use a flat engineer’s file to restore the cutting edge of hoes, spades and lawn-edging tools.
  • Aerosol oil like WD-40, or lubricating oil will protect surfaces from rusting, just make sure you repeat the process every season
  • Wrap unused secateurs in oiled paper or cloth to prevent re-rusting, or store them in a dry place indoors
  • Replace wooden handle if they break – to separate the handle from the head, soak the joint overnight in easing oil to help loosen rusted screws or tight fittings
  • If your handle is still intact but just a bit worn, rub it smooth with sandpaper, then cover it generously with linseed oil and leave for several days before wiping with a soft rag before storing