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A Freer Life

Must-have garden tools for beginners

If you're only just starting gardening it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of gardening products on the market, but don't let this put you off from starting your own garden. Below, we have compiled the most useful tools you'll need as a beginner gardener.

Gardening gloves: A good-quality pair of gardening gloves will keep your hands clean and also help prevent blisters and scratches.

You can opt for lightweight gloves for daily or regular use, as these are tactile enough to make even delicate work like sowing seeds easy. If you're going to prune thorny shrubs, you'll want to rent a second pair of gloves that are tougher and thorn-proof.

You'll also want to make sure your gloves fit your hands comfortably and are not too bulky. Many come in different sizes so always try them on before you buy.

Spade: The best tool for digging holes, turning over the soil and shovelling materials, such as compost. Before you buy, hold the spade as you would if you were about to push it into the ground. The handle height is right for you if you’re leaning over it slightly. Now hold the spade or fork as you would if lifting soil. Are the areas you’re holding comfortable? Can you reach the base of the shaft easily without stretching?

Make sure it's not too heavy or you'll quickly get tired as you use it. Also make sure any foot treads are comfortable by pressing on them with your foot as though you were digging.

Rake: Spring-time rakes are great for gathering lawn clippings or fallen leaves. For breaking up lumps of soil after digging or levelling the soil so it's flat and even, you'll need a garden rake. Check that the handle length is comfortable for you.

Trowel: A trowel is invaluable for planting. Check that the handle is smooth as this will help prevent blisters. Rough edges and finger shapings can both be painful when you're doing a lot of planting. Also make sure the metal blade feels sturdy enough so it won't bend as you dig.

Secateurs: If you're dealing with shrubs, secateurs will come in handy. There are two main types of secateurs - anvil and bypass.

Anvil secateurs are designed to crush the material and a wide point at which the cut is made means you require less force. Bypass secateurs work more like a pair of scissors and produce a clean and precise cut. The latter tend to be the more popular type and will be your best friends when pruning.

Garden hose and/or watering can: What you need will probably depend on the size of your garden.

A watering can might be a good start for a smaller garden. There are many different sizes of watering cans that carry anywhere from 0.5 to 10 litres of water. You can decide between a plastic, metal or even ceramic can. Plastic cans tend to be much lighter but they won't last as long. A fine rose is great if you're planning to water seedlings as the water flow won't disturb them.

If you grow plants in beds or have a sizable garden, using a hose is the quicker option. There are plenty of adjustable nozzles to help you create just the water jet you're after, whether you're watering large areas or delicate seedlings.

Wheelbarrow: A wheelbarrow is an essential tool for larger gardens and will help you transport all kinds of garden materials, especially if you're dealing with large quantities. It can carry anything from soil and gravel to compost and plants.

There are plenty of plastic wheelbarrows on the market, but if you opt for one with metal body, it's important to store it in a clean and dry place during the winter or when you're not using it as this can prevent rust. Keep the wheels inflated as flat tyres make pushing a barrow much harder.

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