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How to Choose the Best Gardening Tools for you and your Garden

If you are new to gardening, deciding which gardening tools to buy can be surprisingly difficult. You might know you want a garden fork but how can you tell which fork to choose from the dozens on offer in your local garden centre or DIY store? Should you be guided by price, or brand name? Which is best, stainless steel or ordinary steel? Wide or narrow head? Wooden or metal shaft?

The unhelpful answer is it all depends…
The problem is that a fork that’s exactly right for one person might not suit someone else. And if you plan to do a lot of gardening you might want more than one fork for different jobs. Narrow down the options by asking yourself:
  1. What job do I need to do?
  2. What type of tool will make that job easier?
For example, if you are making a new garden on clay soil you’ll need a full size fork that’s strong enough to cope with lots of heavy digging and lifting. But if you are taking over an established garden and only want to lightly fork over the soil around shrubs and occasionally move small quantities of compost, a narrow border fork would be ideal. Most gardening jobs that require a fork will fall between these two extremes so an all-purpose fork that’s easy to handle is usually a good choice for a novice gardener. 
The next step is to try out a number of forks that look as though they might be suitable. How heavy are they? Do they feel balanced when you hold them? If you are tall, using a fork with a short shaft could lead to backache. If you’re not used to physical work, it’s probably best to start with a lightweight model that won’t tire you too quickly.        
Price is an important factor for most gardeners. The most expensive tools are not necessarily the best, but very cheap tools are rarely the bargains they appear to be. A well-known brand has a reputation to keep and its tools will often come with a guarantee. Whichever you choose, examine the tool carefully for any obvious defects before handing over your money.
So now you have your fork, what next? Apply the same process to other types of tools but don’t let enthusiasm lead you into buying items that you’ll rarely use. For an average garden a useful starting kit could consist of a general purpose fork and spade, a Dutch hoe, rake, trowel and secateurs. Add to your collection as and when different tools will make your gardening easier and therefore more enjoyable.
Some one-off gardening jobs such as clearing a long-neglected area or hard landscaping projects like laying paths and building walls will need specialised – and often expensive – tools and equipment. It doesn’t make economic sense to buy something like a rotavator or concrete mixer that will only be used once so it’s better to hire what you need.
Your best option is to find a reputable landscape gardener who not only hires out professional tools but will also give you expert advice on which to choose and how to use them.