When you’re new to gardening there’s so much to learn- and buy! Big things like soil, garden beds, and plants tend to take our attention first, but once you’ve answered those questions, managing the garden on a day-to-day basis becomes the focus.
No matter what your tastes, budget, or location, there is an overwhelming amount of gardening tools, gadgets & accessories on the market. Whether you’re shopping online or in person, there is a myriad of products that look both essential and tempting. But how do you know if you need them? And if so, which ones? Here, we’ve rounded up 6 of our proven, most useful garden accessories to make the choices easy for you.
An Australian invention, the Prong is a simple & highly effective tool for all types of garden digging. The Prong makes easy work of many jobs I couldn’t otherwise manage, like digging out entire shrubs, breaking up clay soil, heavy weeding & removing rocks & tree roots.
Available with several variations, steel Prongs are the easiest tool I’ve ever used for digging. The unique design makes them far easier to use than a shovel, because of the wide ‘D’ shaped handle & the excellent ‘step’ for your foot. This allows for body weight rather than shoulder strength to be used, which is a real game-changer as you get older.
The wire wastepaper baskets shown above ($A2 at K-mart Australia) are one of the most useful things in my garden. They variously protect young seedlings, provide minor shade and keep larger pests off. No matter what the season, I find I have reason to use these baskets. They’re cheap, rust-free, see-through and take a millisecond to put in place. For more garden upcycling ideas, here’s our expanded article.
Watering spikes are versatile and have a variety of benefits. Essentially a small water reserve, they work to deliver a slow release of water directly to plant roots once a bottle is attached. They can be used anywhere in the garden, whether it be pots, portable beds, in-ground or large raised beds. Available worldwide in stores and online, watering spikes are inexpensive and easy to find. While they’re not huge & not a long term solution, watering spikes really help if you are experiencing a heat wave, going away for a few days, are busy or just plain forgetful. The less obvious benefits are that they deliver water slowly & consistently directly to plant roots, so the soil remains evenly moist, plus they eliminate water waste.
Secateurs & Twine
Secateurs and twine are 2 of the most commonly used items in any food garden. There are always plants that need pruning and tying back, so while these might seem like ho-hum items to buy, choosing the right ones can make a big difference to your day-to-day gardening experience. There are thousands of types on the market so it can be difficult to know what to buy.
I was always told as a child ‘buy cheap, buy twice’, and as an adult I have found this to be very true when it comes to gardening products. For this reason I recommend that you buy good quality secateurs and twine. The dearer products will cost more initially but will far outlast their cheaper counterparts and cost you less in the long run. Personally I use Felco secateurs (available worldwide) as they are strong, easy to maintain and have replaceable parts.
For tying plants back, I prefer plastic-coated wire like the one shown above. Experience has shown me that this type of product lasts longest, doesn’t perish in the strong QLD sun, and can be re-used many times over. A strong jute twine also works well, but I suggest steering clear of rubber-coated wire, old stockings and food ties, as these all perish quickly.
Good Quality Hand Tools
Small hand tools are an absolute must in the garden, and this is another area where we recommend buying the best you can. Trowels & forks in a variety of sizes will all come in handy, whether it’s for transplanting, mixing fertiliser into soil, minor raking or weeding. Look for stainless steel or aluminium rather than the cheaper rust-prone models, and always keep your tools under cover when not in use.
Rechargeable Cordless Pruning Saw
When you need to prune but secateurs are that bit too small, a rechargeable cordless pruning saw is the answer. I think of mine as being in between a chainsaw and secateurs, as it makes quick work of basic maintenance like pruning small branches & cutting kindling. The slim blade gives excellent precision, and these lightweight machines tend to be more powerful than their size might suggest. There are a myriad of options both in stores and online (the 3 shown above are just a few of the choices available in Australia at the time of writing), with variations to consider including battery life, blade length, pricepoint, blade positioning, charging speed and ergonomic design.