Garden tools buying guide

Every garden is different, so the tools you need to cultivate yours will vary according to the size and complexity of your outdoor kingdom. We have a range of hand and power tools to help you keep a petite patio or a sizeable space beautiful and under control – but what do you need to buy?  This buying guide will introduce you to the selection of tools available and why you might need them – we hope it helps you to put together the collection that’s right for you and your garden.

Lawns

Keeping your lawn in good condition is one of the best ways of making your garden look good as it makes everything else look healthy.

Mowing


Lawns come in all shapes and sizes and will need varying levels of maintenance, but for most you’ll need a lawnmower to help keep yours tidy season after season.


If you have a small area of grass to maintain, you could go for a hand mower, but for an easier life and a more even finish, an electric lawnmower is the best choice.

Electric mowers are generally cheaper, lighter and easier to maintain than their petrol counterparts. They also tend to be quieter, which is also handy if you want to avoid disturbing the neighbours too much. You can always use 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.

If you do opt for an electric mower, it’s best to keep your lawn trimmed regularly so that it doesn't get out of hand.

For bigger or uneven lawns, a cordless petrol model is ideal as they have more power and larger cutting widths so you can power through unruly areas of grass. 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 as they’re built for tougher terrains, 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.

Finishing touches

 

A nice stripy lawn is attainable for the amateur gardener. If you’re after simple parallel lines, opt for a lawnmower with a fitted rear roller. To achieve the look, all you have to do is use the roller in opposite directions on the grass to create the perfect finish.

Trimming the edge of your lawn neatly can set off your whole garden and enhance the look of your flower beds. 

Grass strimmers are quick and convenient for larger areas, but hand shears are a must for getting a really professional finish.

Maintenance
Weed fork

Now that you’ve got a perfectly-preened lawn, you’ll want to keep it that way. Keeping it free from loose leaves and other detritus is easy with a decent rake, but keeping those pesky weeds at bay is another matter. For this reason, make sure you’re never without a weed fork. Its sharp, short prongs will make light work of dandelions and the like without getting your hands too dirty.

Hedges

Hedges make a good decorative feature in your garden and provide all year round cover as well as a clearly defined boundary.

Petrol hedge cutters


Hedge cutters

If you have established hedges they’ll need regular trimming. For thicker, tougher branches, a petrol hedge cutter is best suited as it provides unlimited power.

It’s important to consider the types of blades used in trimmers. A double reciprocating blade means that it can cut in any direction, perfect for unruly hedges, whereas a single long blade will give you extra reach when cutting along hedges. The space between the teeth of the blades is also important; the wider the spacing, the thicker the branches you can trim.

For smaller box hedges, an electric model will get the job done. Choose a cordless model for ease, so as you don’t trip over any long wires.  Most electric models will only have a single blade, but this also makes them lightweight so you can get the job done quickly.

Added features such as an anti-vibration system, blade-tip protectors and ergonomic handles  are good to look out for, as they’ll make operation simpler and safer. If you opt for a petrol model, it might also be a good idea to invest in a pair of ear defenders and goggles - depending on how unruly your hedges are!

Shedders


Shredders

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. How big it needs to be will be determined on the size of your outside space and the amount you need it to consume. Look out for models with wheels for easy manoeuvrability around the garden.

Flower beds

Getting the perfect flower bed is all about know-how, attention to detail and, importantly, having the right tools for the job.

 

Edging

Edging

Getting a well-defined edge will really help to tidy up the whole look of the bed, helping your floral display to really stand out. The first step is to define the border with a clean, smooth line. The small, sharp head of a Dutch hoe is perfect for this, as it’s easy to control and slips through soil smoothly.

Once you’re happy with your edge, you can begin to cut into and remove the soil. A regular garden spade should be fine for this, although a border spade is worth considering for tighter spaces, as it’s smaller and easier to control.

Planting

Planting

A good hand trowel should handle 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.

Maintaining your soil

Maintaining your soil

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 and will not be up to shifting soil. For smaller areas, a hand-held cultivator will do this job nicely with its specially-designed head.





Pruning

Pruning

Different shaped and sized borders require different tools for upkeep, especially if you have a range of plants and shrubs to maintain. Shears and pruners are the best bet. Most pruning is done in the spring for a good summer display. Collect up the prunings for shredding and then composting.

Patios/decking

Your patio or decking areas will probably need some attention after the dull winter months, in preparation for spring and summer.

Pressure washers


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 .

Blowers and sweepers


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.