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What tools to buy – Part 5

Our final look into essential garden tools -

Loppers:Loppers are a two-handed, heavy-duty version of pruners and are used for removing branches thicker than secateurs can cope with. Loppers are made in various strengths and lengths of handles up to about 28 in. (700 mm), and so they are useful for cutting out inaccessible branches, such as those in the centre of prickly shrubs. Loppers are not usually necessary in the brand-new garden, but can be very useful if you are reclaiming an overgrown one.

Saw:A saw, like loppers, is another piece of equipment which may or may not be an essential depending on whether your garden is established or not, but as any garden matures, the necessity of a saw for heavy pruning and major surgery jobs becomes ever greater. Possibly the best purchase is the true pruning saw which has a tapering blade to get in easily between close branches and teeth down both edges, fine on one side and coarse on the other. Many manufacturers give their saws a non-stick coating to prevent friction; while this is not absolutely essential if you keep your saw dry and properly greased when not in use, it does make life easier. A small, folding pruning saw is handy, as you can keep it with you all the time, in a pocket, when not in use.

Some tool companies offer a range of detachable heads which clip into various lengths of handles. This is an ideal way of building up a tool collection which can be stored in a very little space.

In addition to the above tools, it is not a bad idea to make up a kit of small things you may need once you start maintaining your garden. Suggested items would be a strong screwdriver, a hammer, a brace and bit, screws and nails, plastic-covered wire, a hand drill, a pair of pliers and a pocket-knife. If you intend to do a lot of tree planting you may also think the purchase of a lump hammer worthwhile. This is a heavy, large-headed hammer rather like a sledge hammer, only with a short handle. It is primarily useful for driving wooden stakes firmly into the ground, but can also be employed in connection with many other projects around the garden. A length of nylon string makes a good guideline, attached to a pointed stick at either end, and canes cut to 12, 24 and 36 in. (250, 500, 750 mm and 1 m) lengths are handy to keep by you for marking planting distances. A lightweight pair of aluminium steps can be an asset.

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