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Our tools donated, gifted, bought and came with the new house -verdict?

NorthernJoeNorthernJoe Posts: 660
edited April 2021 in Tools and techniques
We've somehow ended up with a collection of tools that I'm not sure is enough. Our garden is a steep slope with formal ish bottom half, then a fence and a more natural upper half with some big trees. It's new to us house and was vacant for over a year. That's the background, now the tools.

Stainless steel border fork and spade, trowels, the short time rakes for filling soil, plastic leaf take that came with house, bypass and anvil secateurs (anvil cheap and nasty, bypass is cheap but Wilkinson sword and cuts well including over 25mm), extending handled loppers from Tesco that is ratchet and cuts quite thick twigs/branches, bow saw, folding saw that cuts both ways, brushes of various kinds, cheaper looking and larger spade with fold over top tread and long plastic handle, two weird tools in long and short handled form and three or four times twisted around that I assume breaks the soil up when twisted vertically in the soil.


  • NorthernJoeNorthernJoe Posts: 660
    What is good and what isn't? What needs replacing and what needs adding?

  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,234
    edited April 2021
    Not sure about the twisty-tine cultivators (I've seen them but never felt the need to buy one) but everything else is potentially useful.
    What you're lacking in that list seems to be smaller hand tools. I use regularly a long-bladed weeding knife, a smaller hook-shaped weeder, a daisy grubber (not for daisies but other weeds) and a short-handled onion hoe, all for weeding (probably overkill, but different tools for different kinds of weeds). Maybe you don't have so many weeds! I keep a small-ish pair of scissors in the shed for cutting string and opening seed packets, compost bags etc. Oh, and a pair of one-handed shears for edging the grass. I have a lot of other tools that I use occasionally but the ones above (plus secateurs, loppers, trowel, border fork and border spade) are the ones that are out more-or-less every gardening session.
    You'll work out what you need/want is you go.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • hatty123hatty123 Posts: 125
    That's so good, at least you're not starting from scratch!
    Even if you've already got a spade, is it a good one? I've found my sharp pointed spade is invaluable for getting through tough areas with stones or heavy clay.
    Other than that I wouldn't worry too much until you get to a specific job that's needs something else or a tool doesn't do what you want. I'd get a blade sharpener to make best use of what you've got before replacing anything. Also good if you can get to know the neighbours. With mine we always ask each other to borrow tools before buying something that we might only need occasionally.
  • B3B3 Posts: 24,505
    Some of my favourite tools are cheapos I have a small hand rake with springy plastic tines that is gentle enough to rake leaves etc away from delicate young plants. It cost practically nothing in Lidl and I wouldn't be without it.
    My next essential tool is a wallpaper/paint scraper. You can forensically slice off weeds at ground level, scrape moss off the patio. Scrape out weeds between slabs, slice a slug, loosen the top layer of dry clay, dig out a shallow rooted weed, flick cat sshtttt,  even off the grass edges in smallish areas.
    You'll bond with some tools and some you won't. Give them all a chance. The posh stuff isn't always the best.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • NorthernJoeNorthernJoe Posts: 660
    We had a back yard and little garden border in the back alley. Growing over the wall near the house from next door was an ivy. I bought Tesco anvil and bypass secateurs for £3-4 each. Lost the bypass and the anvil will crush anything that's not dry wood. Even green wood split not cut. I then bought a two pack of Wilkinson sword secateurs for a tenner from Tesco's. Bypass and anvil. I misplaced the anvil. The bypass works well. I've got a strong enough grip strength to cut branches with diameter you'd normally get loppers for. Good buy even if I've only got the one secateur now.

    The spade was a gift one Xmas after I heard I'd be getting an allotment. That didn't last and I couldn't keep the plot up with commitments. But it's a spear and Jackson stainless steel one. Or other good make. Although the be handle split in the top edge, not through but can rub at times. Still good but I wonder whether it's easy to swap handle? It's traditional style with metal attached to wooden shaft a foot up. The fork was similarly a good brand but with plastic handle on wood shaft and steel forks, square tines I think. It's very old as it was the one my dad used for as long as I can remember. He bought another one for some reason so gave me his old one. It'll be over 40 years old easily.

    Our soil is above limestone bedrock, which outcrops a lot round here. I suspect it's not too far under the soil in places. The soil seems quite open and friable. Is that more loam than clay?? There could be areas that are stony and with larger rocks. The front garden had large rocks in the border where the two trees we cut down were. The one with the largest trunk had a lot of stones just under the surface when we tried digging it out. We gave up because it has a nearly metre diameter growth below the trunk. Strange the way that grew. No sign of the growth becoming smaller as we started digging around it. One for a professional I think.

    I'm thinking a Mattocks might be useful. Possibly more good secateurs as we need at least one each. Also, perhaps some kids tools for our 8yo son. Would be good to encourage interest there. I've borrowed a wrecking bar too. Big, heavy bar with point one end and blunt chisel at the other. Enough to cut through roots if you aim will and let the weight fall well. I can't really use it due to an injury in one arm. Too heavy to lift and control one handed.

    I was given a long handled Dutch how when I got my allotment. I liked that, works well cutting horizontally under the soil surface or the other way cutting down into the soil. It's the kind where the blade is only slightly angled pointing away from the handle with a gap in the metal behind the blade before attaching to the wooden handle. However it got taken back before we got this garden. Think I'll get another for myself. Any good brand? Any other type of hoe that's better?  I like long handled hoes that you can deal with the weeds without having to step into the border.

    I'm not sure what else is really needed. I've got knives for cutting, scissors for twine, wire cutters for wire, etc. My dad has more kit that I could borrow since they're only 1.5 miles drive away. I nearly forgot I've got 3 lawnmowers!!! When buying the house the vendors asked if we'd like the lawnmower before they removed it. They were executors of the former owner's estate. We said we'd take it. When we moved in we found 3 in the garage! I also had the offer of one from my parents. They moved into their house and found a lawnmower there too. One a little Flymo hover mower and another a rotary mower and I haven't checked the third but think It's a rotary one. I think ones a qualcast. We have a flat front lawn and a couple of small, sloping lawns in the back that will take the little Flymo. There are external power sockets installed with waterproof boxes. I reckon I won't even need extension cables for the lawnmowers.

    Overall I think we've got a good start. However I'm still in a rush to get everything. Gear freak I think.
  • Butterfly66Butterfly66 Posts: 790
    I’ve gardened for years but don’t have a huge array of different tools but we have collected duplicates over the years. So I have a favourite spade and so does my OH. We find our biggest spade copes with thick roots etc so that was used for all our heavy clearing work when we moved in. 

    I use a small trowel for weeding. I also have a small weeding tool with tines one side and a hoe blade the other, but to be honest rarely use it. I broke my hand fork a couple of years ago and haven’t missed it. We have lots of plants that self seed so I rarely use a hoe - I have three who knows why so must send a couple to a charity shop ( do they take that sort of thing?)

    So my must have list is secateurs, scissors, spade, rake, fork, trowel, loppers, pruning saw, wheelbarrow, watering cans, lawn mower, lawn half moon and edging shears, broom

    Our favourite spades and the garden fork are Bulldog, not sure about anything else. My go to secateurs (felco) have been sent away for cleaning and repair so using a spare cheapo pair, I think they were a freebie with a mag subscription but have lasted well. The makers name has long since worn off 

     If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”—Marcus Tullius Cicero
    East facing, top of a hill clay-loam, cultivated for centuries (7 years by me). Birmingham
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 7,782
    two weird tools in long and short handled form and three or four times twisted around that I assume breaks the soil up when twisted vertically in the soil.
    Sounds like a 'Garden Claw'  I inherited my mum's and find it absolutely brilliant for breaking up the surface compaction of borders after winter, and for loosening weeds in borders too.  Our soil is quite light but her garden was clay and it worked for her too.  I think it's a brilliant piece of kit, especially as I now find it very difficult to get down for weeding.

  • NorthernJoeNorthernJoe Posts: 660
    Got the offer of a wheelbarrow but our back garden is such a slope I'm not sure it's practical. 
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