What are the essential gardening tools? Well the big stores would have you believe that you absolutely need every last tool they sell.
This just isn't true, but you will need some basic equipment if you are to maintain your garden well, but this can be done within a frugal living budget.
The main gardening tools you will need are:
A Shovel - An absolute must for turning the soil and digging holes.
Make sure that you have a sturdy one from day one, as they take quite a bashing in the garden and will need to stand up to wear and tear year after year.
If you can only get one type of shovel, make sure it is a round ended one, as this is more versatile in the garden.
But if you can get a flat ended one as well this will come in useful for scooping jobs, such as gravel and cement laying.
A wheelbarrow - This will make work much lighter in the garden, especially if you are lucky enough to have a large patch of ground.
A Pitch Fork - For turning the soil and getting rid of stones in the earth.
A Rake - for the removal of garden debris such as leaves and grass cuttings.
Hand forks or hoe - Essentially for planting beds and containers.
A watering can - a less wasteful way of keeping your garden hydrated than a hose but will take a little more work.
Sometimes you will just have to spend some money, especially if time is of the essence and if you can't find a particular tool. If you do have to buy tools always make sure you buy the best you can afford.
It is a false economy to buy really cheap gardening tools if they only last you a few months. However if you have the time to find your tools you may be able to pick them up for next to nothing at the following places:
Yard sales (boot sales) - I have bourght many a garden tool at these sales and most have been good quality but usually just in need of a good clean and little TLC.
Markets - check out your local markets for a hardware seller selling off old stock. Always worth bargaining on price at markets, especially if you buy several things at once.
Second-hand and charity shops - Often when someone passes away or moves house the family will want to dispose of perfectly good equipment via these shops, rather than throw them away.
Sometimes the shop will allow you to leave your telephone number so that they can notify you if some gardening tools come in. Always worth asking I find.
Online - Ebay and other similar auction sites could be just the place to find some good equipment. Make sure you refine your search to your local area so that you will not have to incur postage costs.
Friends and neighbours - why not ask to see if they have any tools they no longer want and see if you can either pay for them or offer a swap.
If you only need something for a short period of time they may even be prepared to lend it to you as long as you return it in one piece (unfortunately I have the reputation of breaking things, so people aren't so keen to lend to me, ho hum).
One of the biggest and most expensive mistakes a lot of gardeners make is to leave their tools lying around in the garden exposed to the elements. This is a sure fire way of reducing the life of the tool and stretching your frugal budget.
I am no angel; I have lost many a shovel this way when I find the wooden handle has rotted or the wheelbarrow wheel has rusted stuck.
Keep as many of your tools as possible inside a dry shed and remove any soil from them before storing them away.
Some tools may benefit from some regular lubrication to prevent rust and keep them in good condition; this is especially true if they are to be stored away for some time.
Happy Gardening every one and remember to bend those knees.
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