Your guide to buying lawncare tools
No doubt about it, the lawn is your garden's crowning glory. If you can get that stretch of grass looking lush, the rest of your garden will shine too.
All it takes is a dash of loving care and, of course, the right gear. Here's our guide to looking after your lawn.
A lawnmower is of course your lawn essential. So we've devoted a special section to it - for great advice see our lawnmowers buying guide.
For total lawn perfection, get the shears out! Once you've cut the grass, you'll need shears to neaten up and trim those edges and borders that a lawnmower can't reach. There are several types to choose from, depending on where you need to snip. Get a pair with ground steel blades for precision cutting and a rust-resistant PTFE (non-stick) coating. Some shears have telescopic handles, an adjustable swivel head or both. And look for comfortable hand grips to make your work easier.
Use grass shears to trim flat areas of the lawn, around shrubs and hedges or underneath trees where your lawnmower won't reach.
Excellent if you only have a short border to trim. But you'll need to bend or kneel to do the job...
Single handed grass shears
These are ideal for cutting grass growing along the base of a wall, or around the trunk of a tree. Single handed grass shears - where the cutting blade moves against a static one - give a much closer cut than 'scissor action' shears.
Long-handled edging shears
Edging shears with long handles save you time and effort - and they're really comfortable because you don't have to bend down. With the head turned at 90 degrees and the blades set horizontally, you can achieve a precise, clean cut along the edge of your borders.
Rakes and scarifiers
Watch out for moss and thatch - they can kill your lawn! If left, they'll choke the grass, leaving your lawn looking patchy and ugly. Moss creeps through grass and smothers it. Thatch is a layer of dead material that builds up on the surface of the soil beneath the blades of grass. It stops moisture from reaching the roots and encourages disease so eventually the grass will die.
A grim picture, we know, but it doesn't have to be like this. Falling leaves are a major cause of moss and thatch so simply raking your grass clear of leaves will help stop moss and thatch spreading.
A leaf rake has a wide span (generally 24in) with flat 'tines' or prongs made of plastic to keep the tool nice and light.
Spring tine rake
Made from springy wire, the prongs of a spring-tine rake penetrate the top of the lawn and comb out any debris. This tool is excellent for sorting out dead leaves and twigs. But you could also use a spring-tine rake to clear smaller areas of moss and thatch. On some models you can adjust the span width to rake a wide expanse of lawn or more precisely clear up leaves from a narrow space.
Is your lawn already suffering from moss and thatch? Don't worry, just get tough and invest in a scarifier. This machine is basically a round cage or drum with spring-loaded spikes. As you push it forward, the cage rotates, and the spikes are forced down into the soil. As the spikes withdraw, they pull out the moss and thatch and throw it backwards into a collection box.
Heavily used areas of lawn (where children play, for example) are vulnerable and need your extra care. That's because they become compacted, making it difficult for grass to survive as air and rain can't penetrate the soil.
But there's an easy answer. Use a lawn aerator to introduce air back into the soil without breaking it up completely. An aerator is like a scarifier except that the spring-loaded spikes are hollow and remove a small plug of soil as they withdraw. To keep the holes open for as long as possible, simply brush sand into them.
You can choose manual or electric models. For small areas, aerator boots are a great idea. Simply fit the aerator attachments to the soles of your normal gardening boots and walk over the lawn.
If you let leaves gather in damp heaps on your lawn, moss will thrive as it loves damp conditions. Make it tough for moss to survive by clearing leaves as soon as they fall, especially during autumn and where you have overhanging deciduous trees. Get the job done quickly with a leaf vacuum. And make your work easier by going for a model with a blowing and shredding action as well.
You'll find this tool handy for breaking up worm casts on your lawn, brushing off dew and lifting the grass before mowing.
Feed and weed dispensers
Make feeding and weeding easy with a manual push dispenser. First fill up the dispenser's hopper with fertiliser or weed and moss killer granules. As you push the dispenser along, it automatically releases the correct amount through channels in the bottom. Ideal for medium and large lawns.
Other useful tools
After you've swept up the leaves, removed moss and thatch and mowed the grass, you'll need to get rid of the debris. The best way is to recycle - make compost to go back onto the garden. Here are some handy tools to help you...
An electric garden shredder cuts and crushes grass clippings and leaves ready to be composted. Shredded vegetation speeds up decomposition so the compost rots down quicker. Choose a shredder that can cope with small branches as well. Having one with wheels makes life easier. And make sure the cable is a decent length. By the way, some garden shredders are very noisy so look for one with a quiet operation feature. A reverse cutting action is also useful for removing blockages.
A few thoughts about safety... Always use an RCD adapter that's been tested. Never put your hands inside the shredder without switching it off, unplugging it and ensuring the blades are still.
A gardening essential, of course, whatever you're doing. Fill your wheelbarrow with leaves and clippings to take to the shredder or simply use to carry your tools around the lawn.
You'll likely be using a metal wheelbarrow, but for light loads like leaves and clippings and where space is tight, go for a collapsible canvas wheelbarrow. The canvas is strong and durable, and the frame folds flat so it's easy to store.
If your garden is big enough, you can easily create your own compost heap somewhere out of sight. But a plastic compost bin keeps everything neat and tidy. Choose a composter with a wide opening at the top so it's easy to fill, a strong lid that won't blow off and a chute at the base so you can easily remove compost when it's ready to use.
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