It is no good trying to start a garden with poor tools. Cheap second-hand items are a false economy. I am not going to try to tell you that gardening isn’t a tiring occupation — some of it can be extremely hard work, especially if you are not used to it, but having the right sort of tools to suit you can cut your effort down by half.
You do not need a lot of equipment to start a garden, or keep it in shape. You can, of course, spend a great deal of money on gimmicks and gadgets. Some work reasonably well, some do not, but most of them you can manage quite well without.
Here are a few tips to bear in mind when shopping for your tools:
1. Always go to a reputable shop. It does not have to be one specializing in garden products, as most DIY chains sell reliable brands, although specialist tool shops will probably have staff more capable of giving expert advice. The shop to avoid is the cheap discount place selling inferior and badly made products. One can frequently be ‘caught’ this way with small hand tools – trowels, secateurs and the like. Often they do not function well, and break easily after a few weeks’ use.
2. Look for well-known brand names, which on the whole, produce tools of a quality you can rely on.
3. Get the best that money can buy. All gardening tools are pricey items these days but, generally speaking, the more expensive the tool, the more dependable it will be, although there are some inexpensive imports from the Far East around which are of reasonable quality and quite adequate for average use. Some manufacturers produce a variety of ranges, priced accordingly, designed with the occasional gardener, regular user, and professional contractor respectively in mind.
4. Take your time handling the items before you buy. See if you feel happy holding them. The problem here is that you probably do not have the experience to know whether a particular tool feels ‘right’ for you. You will, however, know whether it seems too heavy, or too long, or too short, or whatever. Don’t buy until you’ve had a look at a lot.
5. Don’t automatically accept other people’s cast-offs. Do not put yourself off for ever before you have even started by using something badly maintained, broken or poorly designed. However, if it looks as though it has been well looked after and has been used for the job for which it was originally intended, it’s worth giving it a try. Car boot sales are often oudets for redundant tools and occasionally you can find a good one.