Gifts that grow with you
December is not a month for doing too much in the garden except for a god tidy up, in time for the upcoming holiday season when gifts will be exchanged and many discarded as not being functional, too big or whatever.
Giving is a personal thing. Size and value is just a part of the equation, it is often the case that the small functional or inconsequential gift is often the most useful and most used.
Garden tools are not a luxury or glamorous item, but they have to be by their very nature functional and long lasting to be worth their while; one can use the words good value, premium etc but quality is worth its weight in gold.
One always has to remember that maintaining tools and equipment is part and parcel of their longevity.
Pruning is an important part of the gardens development; several types of tools are used in the exercise of pruning viz. secateurs (hand-pruners), loppers and saws.
Secateurs are for using on small branches only and will be strained if used on thicker branches they will also tear the bark if cut is not precise and straight.
I prefer the anvil type secateurs as the give a better cleaner finish.
Loppers are usually found in two sizes, for medium sized branches and larger thicker material, these too have an anvil edge for the blade to cut down on.
For taller material in the garden the use of long arm or telescopic loppers do away with the need for a ladder when material is reachable from the ground.
For difficult areas the good old parrot beak hand saw is unbeatable, quality is important to ensure a strong blade be kept sharp.
Chain saws are best used by professionals as they can, in the wrong hands, cause major damage; the smaller saws up to 12 would be the only size I would suggest for a home gardener.
In Bermuda rotary mowers are the norm for homeowners and landscape companies, however for the avid gardener who likes a good lawn the type of mower is an important factor.
St Augustine and too Bermuda grass are usually cut with a rotary and if the machine is kept in good order do a good job.
Rotary mowers should have a solid body and strong engine with all adjustable wheel heights to control height of cut.
Blades should be sharpened regularly for the consistency of cut.
For hybrid Bermuda lawns and dare I say it, zoysia lawns I prefer and would recommend a reel mower.
Reel mowers are best used on fine bladed grasses when mown low and give a nice finish if lawn is cut regularly; the higher the number of cutting blades on the reel the finer the cut which gives the effect of stripes or blocking.
Fertiliser applications on a large lawn are best applied with a spreader either a broadcast or drop type; the former is best used on big lawns with width to accommodate the broadcast manner of the spreader.
On smaller lawns the drop spreader is best suited as it does not waste material but just drops it in the run of the spreaders path.
Most machines have calibration which is often noted on the fertiliser bag as to distribution rates.
Soil depth in Bermuda is always an unknown until one tries to dig a hole, most work is carried out with the Portuguese hoe and when used correctly makes a relatively good job.
For the real gardener however nothing beats the feel of a good stainless steel spade which is less strenuous on the back and gives straight sides to the planting hole.
When planting smaller items such as pdqs or annuals in cell packs a good solid stainless steel trowel is the best tool for the job, requiring less effort then a hoe and being much quicker in the planting process.
The Dutch hoe is a simple tool which is literally pushed through the top surface of the soil to remove /dislodge small weeds from becoming established.
It is an ideal tool in that if used regularly simply to break the surface of the soil; it will control most potential weed growth.
A healthy garden is maintained by regular checking for the occurrence of pest and disease problems and when seen action is taken immediately with a pesticide, miticide, fungicide etc.
Sprayers are found in various sizes from small hand held to four gallon knapsack size, the larger types having a pumping action to deliver the spray.
Stainless steel or plastic types are likely to have less problems if of a good quality, ensure that parts are available from a local distributor in case of a problem.
I have not mentioned strimmers or blowers as I am of the opinion they often cause more work and in the case of the former more damage than they are worth.
In the case of the former edging especially on lawns can be done with long handled lawn shears to give a nice clean finish between lawn and garden.
With regard to blowers, the problem is the blowings are more than often never picked up but spread awry usually to the next door property or adjacent road!
Moving tools around the garden and debris to the compost heap requires a good wheelbarrow; a well- balanced heavy duty plastic or similar material with body and frame solidly joined and with a good rubber tyre will last a long time and save much time and energy.
A gift given with thought will last a long time and in time the thoughtfulness of the giver will be much appreciated. Happy Holidays!
Malcolm D. Griffiths can be reached at email@example.com