Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Tooling Up for Spring

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Tooling Up for Spring

Article excerpt

With Alex Neill of Which? HOME ADVICE As the weather warms up it's time to sharpen your shears and fettle your forks - or just buy new ones

IN ASSOCIATION It doesn't matter whether you have a window-box or a garden stretching as far as the eye can see you'll need proper gardening tools - you can't use your fingers!

Price is no quality but to help you buy Spring is the peak time both to check what you have and decide what you will need as everything starts to sprout.

Basic gardening tools - spades, forks, rakes and hoes - remain unchanged for almost ever. With a little loving care, quality implements can last longer than a lifetime. But garden tools with motors - mainly lawnmowers - have shorter lives, can and do go wrong. It may often be better and cheaper to replace rather than repair.

The first task is to see what you've got already. Hand tools work better if you clean them after each use. Buy new if handles are damaged or the tines of a rake or fork are bent.

Tools with moving parts such as shears, secateurs, and tree loppers work better with a quick oil spray squirt on blades and mechanism. Which? has a list of good buy and don't buy secateurs on its website - the research showed the best and the worst were all around £20 to £25. And you certainly don't need to spend almost £100 on the priciest.

A fine file can sometimes substitute for a suitable carborundum stone as you need to get rid of blunting plant residue. Some garden centres offer resharpening - for saws as well. Replace cutting items if the blades are bent or badly chipped.

Only the a ride-on appropriate are more problematic - as well as suitability for the task, gardeners need reliability - you won't be happy spending half an hour each time getting that old petrol mower to spark into life.

You can buy a basic electric lawnmower for under £50 - or spend thousands on a battery mower programmed to cut the lawn on its own. …

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