A beginner’s guide to gardening essentials

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Thinking about getting into gardening but don’t know where to start? Neglected your backyard for so long you forgot what it used to look like? Or maybe you’re a seasoned pro, but you’re looking to revamp the veggie patch? Whatever the reason, the grass is no longer going to be greener on the other side. It’s time to break out the proper equipment, get your hands dirty, and dig your way to a garden that’s worth boasting about. Read on for some suggestions on gardening tools that may be worth trying – and thank us later.

Hedge Trimmers

Hedge Trimmers

If your garden has been through some serious neglect, a simple hedge trim can go a long way. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, it is suggested that new hedges require formative pruning (shaping a tree or hedge when it is young) for their first few years after planting, and then maintenance should be carried out annually or bi-annually for larger hedges.

Trimmers, especially electrical and cordless ones, save time and energy that would otherwise be spent manually cutting and grooming large and difficult greenery. From those small shrubs, to trees and large feature hedges, electrical trimmers are powerful and help to tackle messy and unreachable areas of the garden.

A good place to start:

  • Try Bosch’s 10.8V Li-Ion Cordless Shrub Sheer. The 10.8V is compact and handy, whilst its “anti-blocking system” provides the tool with extra cutting power and little to no stalling. It is also said to impress with easy handling and outstanding cutting performance. The hedge trimmer weighs 900 grams, but can run up to 100 minutes.

Alternatively…

  • Try Ozito’s 500W Electric Pole Hedge Trimmer. This trimmer has a 2.4 metre long reach and a 150 degree, 6 position pivoting head for greater versatility – ideal for people with tall hedges and bushes that are harder to reach. It also boasts of a clean, effective and 18mm cut through dual action later cut blades.

Shovels/Trowels

Shovels and Trowels

A good quality digging tool is an indispensable addition to the toolbox. There’s a huge range available out there, from shovels, to trowels to weeders – and you should be choosing one which will be most useful to your own garden.

Types:

These are just some of the type of garden digging tools you may need to purchase for your garden:

  • Trowel: These small, handheld sized shovels are designed for planting and transplanting. They are a valuable asset to your garden toolbox.
  • Trenching shovel: These are used for, predictably, digging trenches. The shovel features sharp, square sides with a pointed end in order to product a clean trench wall.
  • Digging shovels: The most basic and classic shovel, this can be used for a wide range of gardening jobs due to its versatility. They feature rounded sides with a sharp point.
  • Drain spade shovel: These are extremely narrow shovels with a rounded tip, ideal for more delicate work such as digging up and transporting small plants, or adding plants to existing gardens.
  • Scoop shovels: These are merely used to transport large amounts of material, such as soil or grain. They are wide with a flat tip, so should only be purchased and used for large transporting jobs.
  • Edging/ half-moon shovels: These are highly specialised, used to clean up borders, driveways and edging garden beds. Their half-moon shape drives with ease and allows for angled cuts that would be impossible with a regular shovel.

When a spade is a spade:

Difference between Shovel and SPade

We understand if you’re still confused – what actually is the difference between a shovel and a spade? Well, to put it simply; a spade is for digging and a shovel is for scooping. A spade has a flat edge, straight angled blade that is ideal for cutting through for harsh conditions such as thick mud and grass or gravel, as well as creating edges in your garden. A shovel, on the other hand, is used to shovel loose material that has been dug up or loosened from the spade. The blade is angled upwards and the tip is pointed, so that the material stays on the shovel.

Gardening Gloves

Gardening Gloves

Believe it or not, gardening can pose some dangers – especially when it comes to your hands. Without gloves, your green thumbs may be left exposed to all sorts of thorns and prickles! Hence, it is incredibly important to always be wearing high-quality gloves.

Some suggestions:

  • Try the Men’s Denim Gardening Gloves from Burgon & Ball, retailing at $34.95 on The Potted Garden. The gloves boast to regulate hand temperate and improve dexterity through a 2-way stretch mesh between fingers. They also state to be soft, yet hard-wearing for all types of gardening.
  • Try the Gold Leaf Gloves – Tough Touch from The Potting Shed, for $75. These gloves, like the name suggests, are designed to be used when dealing with tough, thorny plants. They boast to offer a high level of protection for the hand and up the forearm against anything sharp, as well as any liquid – it is made from American deer grain leather.

Features to look out for:

Glove features

Keep an eye out for these features to ensure you choose gloves that are tailored to suit you:

  • Extra grip – material such as synthetic leather and spandex are often added on the inside of the glove for added protection.
  • Waterproof – Gloves that advertise as waterproof are useful if you know you are going to be working with damp soil, lots of water and especially if you have sensitive skin. They are usually made out of nitrile, latex, nylon or plastic.
  • Bionic – These gloves have been designed for people living with arthritis or sensitive hands but don’t want to give up their love of gardening. They can be heated, have wrist support or be fingertip gloves.

Common glove types (materials):

  • Synthetic leather
  • Real leather
  • Cotton
  • Rubber
  • Bamboo
  • ABS Plastic
  • Leather Suede
  • Latex

Secateurs

Secateurs

If you don’t know what ‘secateurs’ are used for, don’t worry – a lot of people don’t even know what the word means. Secateurs, or pruning clippers, are a special kind of scissors to be used on plants. They are strong enough to cut through branches, plants and any other greenery (as thick as about 2-3cm). There are thousands of different pruners out there on the market, ranging in their size, speciality, and cost. It’s important to weigh up your options before making a purchase.

Types of secateurs:

  • Hand pruners: The most commonly used secateurs in gardening – they fit nicely into one hand. There are two different types of hand pruners – they are:
    • Bypass secateurs: These use two blades that glide past each other, seamlessly cutting any soft plants or branches.
    • Anvil pruners: For something with a bit more strength, these pruners operate as one blade comes into contact with a smooth metal surface (called the anvil or table). They are to be used on woody branches and more heavy-hitting gardening.
  • Lopping shears: These are basically just the supersized version of hand pruners. They’re made with a longer handle so that tall shrubs can be reached, and with bigger and thicker blades for more heavy-duty cutting.
  • Floral: Similar to bypass hand pruners, these little clippers operate with two blades (more so similar to scissors) and a spring system inside. Use these to cut delicate flowers and plants.

Fertilisers

Fertilisers

Ah, fertiliser. Everyone knows that you need it, but much like our dear friends the secateurs, it often gets overlooked and left forgotten (usually through a mix of laziness and fear of the unknown). We’re here to turn that all around – let’s talk fertiliser.

Why do we need to use fertiliser?

Basically, our Australia soil is old and damaged, and nutrients are usually lacking. When you plant a seed in the ground, that soil is now its home. Think of the soil like food – we can’t grow and flourish without a balanced diet of essential nutrients, and the same goes for our plants. Well-fed plants grow quicker, are healthier and more beautiful.

What do plants need?

There are quite a few main nutrients that plants need to grow to their fullest, according to gardeners.

  • Hydrogen, carbon and oxygen – plants get these three from air and water.
  • Nitrogen – this helps plants to make the protein they need in order to create new tissue. Too much of nitrogen can actually stunt growth.
  • Phosphorus – this helps to transfer energy from one plant to another and in turn encourages root growth, helps buds to develop and grow seed size.
  • Potassium – this provides disease resistance, helps strengthen plants and allows plants to move water and sugar inside themselves to improve overall quality.
  • Calcium, sulfur and magnesium – these three elements are only needed by plants in very small doses. Calcium neutralises any toxic invasions, and is used in cell membranes to strengthen the plant. Sulfur helps to form enzymes and assist in plant protein, and without magnesium, plants cannot process sunlight.

How to choose a fertiliser

All fertilisers that are available to purchase should contain all three of the major elements – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The amount in each varies between each fertiliser and brands tend to list these elements as numbers on the packet, with each of the numbers representing a percentage amount of each element in each mix.

Different blends of fertiliser serve a different purpose to others – have a look below for some handy tips, according to the ABC.

  • If a blend has more potassium, it’s good for preparing a plant for winter.
  • Nitrogen is important for leafy growth such as grass/lawns and leafy vegetables.
  • Potassium is important for the production of flowers and fruit.
  • Phosphorus is vital for larger plants and/or vegetables relying on a strong root growth.
  • Liquid fertiliser gives an instant effect as it can be applied directly to the plants in the soil.
  • The wrong type of fertiliser can kill your plants – do extensive research.

If this is all too confusing, another great option is to start composting and using that as a fertiliser. It is chemical free, but will still provide your plants with everything they need to grow!

Happy gardening!

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