The right tools for the job

PA Photo/Thinkstock
PA Photo/Thinkstock

The leaves are starting to fall, the lawn needs rejuvenating, the beds could do with a tidy-up, and overcrowded plants can be lifted and divided.

Autumn is potentially a busy time in the garden so it’s essential to have the right tools for the job to help make the season relatively pain-free.

There are some tools which will make your life easier in autumn and if you invest in the best now, you will appreciate their quality in years to come. Here are some essential tools for particular jobs:

Trimming and pruning: Secateurs: It’s worth tidying up shrubs in beds and borders at this time of year, cutting out old or diseased wood to make way for new growth in the spring. There’s a wealth of secateurs on the market but I would invest in a good quality pair that will last for years, if you look after them. Felco no 6 secateurs are ideal for small hands, with blades made from high quality carbon steel while the handles are made from forged aluminium alloy (£59.99, www.felco.com and Wyevale Garden Centres). Fiskars award-winning Quantum B100 bypass secateurs (£65) are also a good product, available nationwide in garden centres, DIY stores and online. Go to www.fiskars.co.uk

Clearing leaves: It’s important to clear leaves from the lawn because they can smother and weaken grass roots, reducing their oxygen intake, and can harbour pests and diseases which may re-infect plants in later years. Any leaves which have settled in the crown of plants should also be removed, although those lying on the soil in beds and borders can be left to decompose. There are many rakes on the market but among the best is the Fiskars Garden Light Leaf Rake, available in medium or large, which has a tough plastic head and an ergonomically designed lightweight hardened aluminium shaft and comfortable soft grip handle. (RRP of £29.99 each. available nationwide at DIY stores, garden centres and online. Go to www.fiskars.co.uk). If you want mechanical help, try Bosch ALS 2500 garden vacuum to collect the leaves from the patio and shred them - taking full advantage of the machine’s 1:10 shredding radio. (RRP £79.99, www.bosch-garden.com)

Lawn care: Springtine rakes: These are perfect tools for removing thatch and moss from the lawn in both autumn and spring, without damaging existing grass. Wolf-Garten’s springtine rake (£29.99 (handles separate) www.wolfgarten-tools.co.uk, and through leading garden centres) is a good bet from its ‘multi change’ range, a selection of tool heads which fit every handle. Alternatively you can buy electric scarifiers, which are useful if you have a large lawn, or pushable manual versions. However, some of them can also rip up the grass so be careful which one you choose. Which? Gardening found the Al-Ko Combi-care 32VLE Comfort Lawn Rake/ Scarifier (£169, available www.al-ko.com or from Al-Ko dealers) to be its best buy in tests, complete with swapping cylinders, height adjustment and collection bag.

Autumn and winter digging: Digging in organic matter to enrich your soil is one of the primary jobs in autumn, so the ground is ready for planting in spring - and a good garden fork is perfect for this job. Buy the best quality one you can, as so many cheaper versions end up with prongs bending or even snapping under duress. You’ll also need a fork to lift plants which you want to move or divide in autumn. Among the best is the made-in-UK Bulldog classic premier garden fork, which has a head made from a single piece of steel and an ash shaft and handle and comes with a lifetime guarantee. (RRP £50.67) or the smaller, lighter shrubbery fork (RRP 49.74) both available from www.qualitygardentools.com

Plant bulbs. You can use a hand trowel and fork to do this job, but bulb planters lift a core of soil, enabling you to plant bulbs quickly and are useful in soil that holds together well but is not to heavy. There are many good ones on the market, but instead of having to kneel to do the job you can buy them with a long handle so you can push the planter in with your foot. Burgon & Ball’s Long Handled Bulb Planter was selected as finalist for RHS Chelsea Garden Product of the year 2014. The cut away angle on the top of the blade allows easy access to remove the plug of soil and place back in the hole to cover the bulb you have planted.