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Professional gardening tools guide

Professional gardeners rely heavily on their tools to make physically demanding tasks easier.

Whether you’re sowing seeds, pruning shrubs or maintaining a lawn, using the best tools for the job will help you work quicker. Time is money, so investing in quality will not only save you blood, sweat and tears, but help you earn more money.

This guide will help you to build a reliable and professional gardening toolkit.

hand gardening tools

How professional gardeners can identify high quality tools

Your tools are going to be worked hard, so there’s no point going for the cheapest ones on the market. You’ll only end up shelling out more in the long run, with every new replacement.

Here are a few key reasons why it’s worth investing in quality tools:

  • Cheaper in the long run.
  • They’ll help to avoid aches, pains and injuries.
  • Using the wrong tools can damage plants.
  • They’ll make you more efficient at your work (and time is money).
  • Gives a higher quality finish.

Cheap tools often come disguised as more expensive tools.  Here’s what to look out for  to help you weed out poor imitations.

  • Plain metal – good tools are usually made from plain metal, whilst poor ones are often painted to mask the low quality materials beneath.
  • Stainless steel – for toughness, durability and to avoid rust.
  • Forged – tools forged from one piece of steel retain their strength and are less likely to break than cast tools.
  • Brand – it’s best to stick with brands that are known for their exceptional craftsmanship and longevity.
  • Wood – the closer the grain, the stronger the wood.
  • Fibreglass or tubular steel handles – handles are normally one of the first things to snap, but strong fibreglass or tubular steel handles can last a lifetime.
  • Guarantees/warranties – good quality tools will usually have long guarantees and/or warranties to cover you if they break.

What hand tools do I need?

professional secateurs

There are 7 gardening hand tools that no gardener should be without. These are likely to get used daily for basic planting, weeding and maintenance tasks and are where you should consider making the biggest investment.

These 7 key tools are:

  • Spade.
  • Rake.
  • Hoe.
  • Hand trowel.
  • Hand fork.
  • Sheers.
  • Secateurs.

Most of these tools will come in a variety of different shapes and sizes to suit different people and tasks.  Make sure that you’ve tried holding each tool in person before buying to ensure that they’re a comfortable size and fit for you.

Other useful hand tools

As well as the essentials, professional gardeners need a few more specialist tools in their arsenal.  Here are some of the most useful:

  • Roller – firms the ground to give the lawn a professional finish.
  • Dibber – makes holes in the soil to plant seeds in.
  • Pruning saw – trims shrubs and trees that are too thick for clippers.
  • Paving knife – neatens up paving by removing weeds and moss.
  • Edging knife – neatens the edge of lawn for a precise and professional finish.
  • Mattock – digs and chips, useful for clearing soil and digging up roots.
  • Hori hori knife – a multipurpose tool that’s a combination of a trowel and a soil knife, used for digging, weeding and planting.
  • Loppers – prunes medium thickness, hard-to-reach branches on shrubs and trees.

Which hand tool brand is best?

Burgon and Ball – tools by Burgeon and Ball outperform the British standard load test by over 50% and come with a lifetime guarantee against manufacturing defects. They’re also endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

Felco – a favourite brand amongst gardeners worldwide, Felco are known for their high quality, long-lasting secateurs.  These Swiss made products come with a lifetime guarantee as all parts are replaceable.

Niwaki – known for their innovative Japanese designs and good quality steel and craftsmanship, Niwaki tools are highly ergonomic and lightweight, making them efficient and comfortable to use.

WOLF-Garten –  Innovative German design and decent craftsmanship make this reliable brand popular with professional gardeners. The brand offers a 35-year warranty on their multi-star tools, 3 years on electric tools and 10 years on hand tools and trimmers.

Spear and Jackson – hand-forging tools in the UK since 1760, Spear and Jackson tools are ergonomically designed for high levels of comfort, perfect for the professional gardener.  Made from the toughest and most durable materials, there is a 10-year warranty on their range of hand tools.

Bulldog – this UK-made brand makes forged steel tools with exceptional strength and longevity. They also offer a 15-year warranty.

What power tools do I need?

push mowers

When tackling large garden projects and heavy-duty tasks, hand tools just won’t cut it.  You’ll require help from power tools for tasks like mowing the lawn and maintenance of larger shrubs and trees.

Gardening power tools for the professional gardener

Lawnmower – you’ll require a durable mower that can be relied upon not to break down and to make your work easier. Some of the top lawnmower brands for commercial use include:

Cutters and strimmers – cutting and pruning plants of different shapes and sizes can be strenuous and time-consuming work without the correct tools.  To get things done quickly and with ease, different types of cutter are required for different jobs.  Here are a some of the power tools that you might want to consider adding to your toolkit.

  • Hedge cutters.
  • Brushcutter.
  • Strimmer.
  • Motorised Scythe.
  • Tree pruner.

What garden machinery do I need?

Garden machinery like rotavators, turf cutters and cultivators will make quick work of preparing and maintaining large areas of land.

green ride-on mower

Below you’ll find some of the most common types of garden machinery and the jobs they can help you tackle:

  • Rotavators – turns over, breaks up, and aerates soil ready for planting.
  • Cultivators – used for blending loose soil and mixing in compost.
  • Seed and fertiliser spreader – distributes seeds or fertiliser evenly over land.
  • Turf cutter – removes strips of turf.
  • Lawn aerators – relieves compaction and aerates for a healthier lawn.
  • Lawn scarifier – removes dead moss and debris from a lawn.

Which power tool or garden machinery brand should I choose?

Stihl –Stihl are renowned worldwide for their power tool products and offer a 2-year warranty.

Camon – a brand that has become synonymous with the hire industry due to their products’ durability, quality and longevity.

Flymo – this brand has become a household name because of their reliable garden tools and machinery.  Flymo products come with a 12-month warranty.

Makita – as the foremost manufacturer of power tools in the world, Makita can be relied on for excellence in their design and manufacture of garden tools and machinery. They also offer a 3-year warranty on products.

Husqvarna – they have over 300 years’ experience in the industry and produce professional garden tools that are reliable, comfortable to use, and efficient.

Bosch – offering a range of professional cordless tools with an innovative long-lasting battery system, Bosch’s range of products are designed to perform well and offer flexibility and ease of use.

Professional garden machinery hire

Depending on the type of work you specialise in, it may be more cost-effective to hire large pieces of garden machinery as and when you require them rather than buy them.

Businesses offering equipment to hire usually provide flexible hire options to suit the size of the job.  You should be able to choose to hire machinery for a day, weekend, or a week, and add an extra day when required at a cheaper rate. The benefits are:

  • You get access to the best machinery on the market.
  • Less upfront expense, only pay when you need to use it.
  • No need to pay for maintenance of machinery.
  • No need to find storage for large, bulky machinery.

Cost of hiring equipment

Please note, some machines may not have like for like specifications, so always check that the size and power of the machine is suitable for your job.

Machine Brand 1 day Weekend Week Extra day
Rotavator HSS £48 £60 £96 £24
Homebase £115.83 £152.44 £189.05 £36.61
Phil’s Tool Hire £25 £37.50 £50 £12.50
Brandon Hire £98.50 £131.33 £164.16 x
Jewson £58.80 £82.32 £117.60 £29.40
Cultivator HSS £25.50 £31.88 £51 £12.75
Homebase £67.01 £87.35 £107.69 £20.34
Phil’s Tool Hire X X X X
Brandon Hire £170.28 £227.04 £283.80 X
Jewson X X X X
Turf cutter HSS £84.38 £105.47 £168.75 £42.19
Homebase £103.62 £136.17 £168.71 £32.54
Phil’s Tool Hire £35 £52.50 £80 £17.50
Brandon Hire £157.50 £210 £262.50 X
Jewson £96.60 £135.24 £193.20 £48.30
Lawn aerator HSS £94 £117.50 £188 £47
Homebase £119.90 £157.86 £195.83 £37.97
Phil’s Tool Hire £60 £90 £120 £30
Brandon Hire X X X X
Jewson X X X X
Lawn scarifier HSS £36.25 £45.32 £72.50 £18.12
Homebase £46.67 £60.23 £73.79 £13.56
Phil’s Tool Hire £27.50 £41.25 £55 £13.75
Brandon Hire £87.70 £116.93 £146.16 X
Jewson £52.92 £74.09 £105.84 £26.46

All prices valid as of 15th March 2018

Questions to ask before hiring garden power tools and machinery

  • How old is the machine?
  • How do you operate it?
  • Does it require fuel and if so what kind?
  • Is it the right size and power for your project?
  • Does it require safety equipment?
  • How long will delivery take?
  • Does the machine need to be returned or will it be collected?
  • When must it be returned by?
  • What’s the total cost including VAT?
  • Is there a deposit to pay and what are the terms?
  • What’s the damage waiver?

Caring for your tools

If you’re investing in good tools you’ll want to make sure that you’re caring for them correctly to keep them in top condition.

You can extend their life by:

  • Brushing dirt off after use.
  • Wiping metal with a general-purpose oil to prevent rust.
  • Having them serviced when appropriate.
  • Keeping them sharp.
  • Rubbing wooden handles with boiled linseed oil.
  • Removing any rust with wire wool.
  • Storing tools in a dry place.
  • Oiling moving parts.

Read more: Find out how Charlie Benton, gardener, grew his business and client base.

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