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Men, here are the only gardening tools you’ll ever need

At a certain stage in your life you may find yourself in a garden nursery armed with a list of plants you’ve been asked to buy for your wife’s veggie patch or planter.

Buying the spinach, beetroot, tomatoes and onions is the easy part; getting home with your loot and realising you don’t even own a pickaxe (which you discover as your spade shoots back into your wrist after digging your way into building rubble 10cm below the topsoil) is quite another problem. And, oh, look at the time: the nursery closes in 10 minutes and you’re covered in soil.

What would have been nice is a quick-reference list of gardening must-haves every amateur gardener would ever need. So, that’s what we did. You’re welcome.

Hand tools

Hand rake/shovel combo: Pick up piles of leaves or deweed around plants without damaging roots, stems or crowns. Dig holes in softer soil and fill again once your seedlings are planted.hand rake

Top tip: Choose a brightly coloured one for easy spotting as you work, or for when it gets covered in leaves and sand.

Watering can: You can more gently irrigate new seedlings or smaller plants, or soak established ones, with one of these babies.

Top tip: Consider one that is low and wide instead of narrow and high as filling it from a tap close to the ground will see you spilling a lot of water as you tilt it to remove from the tap.

Shears: Trim grass around tree trunks and shrubs, edging beds and paths; cut back ornamental grasses and clumps of perennials.

Scissors: Perfect for removing dead flowers; cutting soft-stemmed plants, such as herbs; pruning small or delicate plants; snipping twine; and thinning perennials.

Top tip: Look for one with a spring action. If you don’t, you’ll regret it immediately.

Hand pruner: These heavier-duty shears are used for cutting branches less than an inch thick; thin out perennials or cut larger flowers.

Wood saw: The classic wood saw is perfect for cutting through larger branches your hand pruner just can’t. Besides pruning dead branches like a pro, your wife will appreciate you giving your guns a workout again!wood saw cutting a tree

The big boys

Long-handled pruner: For those branches beyond your reach you need one of these. Much safer than climbing the tree yourself or stretching on tippy-toes on your ‘ol two-step ladder.

Round-headed shovel: This is one of the most versatile tools in your arsenal: it digs holes to plant trees and shrubs, and assists you in moving loose materials, such as soil, gravel, sand, and compost.shovel spade

Rake: Level soil for planting, spread mulch, gravel, sand, and compost, and remove heavy debris.

Top tip: Buy two different kinds: a metal one and a rubber one as using a metal rake on paving will see the teeth get caught between the bricks, never mind the sound!

Pickaxe: This big boy turns and cultivates unbroken soil. It smashes through building rubble, helps you remove entire root systems, and large rocks and boulders.pick axe

Top tip: While playing with the pickaxe is fun, always adopt a wide-legged stance as missing your target and knocking the axe into your shin will leave you with more than a red face.


David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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