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Which garden tools are best?

Dear Landscape Juice,

Help!

I need to invest in some decent hand tools for gardening - ones that will not bend or break after a couple of uses.In the last two weeks of normal garden use I have managed to bend or break the following :

1 Wickes 'heavy duty builder's fork'
1 cheap digging spade1 cheap digging fork
1 cheap half moon lawn edging spade
1 expensive half moon lawn edging spade
1 standard spring tined rake
1 cheap soil/garden rake
1 cheap hand trowel

It' s ridiculous that goods clearly not fit for their intended purpose should be on sale - regardless of the price. Should I go for Spear & Jackson's top of the range products across the board? I notice they are selling a lot of cheaper looking plastic handled tools in Woolworths these days - which appear to be just bog standard tools simply stamped with the Spear & Jackson name. Are they cashing in on their brand and selling inferior goods now?Should I avoid all DIY superstores and go to an overpriced garden centre? Also, I can't buy anything online at the moment.Any help appreciated.

Thanks,

Mr Jolly : )

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Replies

  • Its a toughie this, there are an awful lot of dodgy tools out there, and as you seem to have discovered already, a lot of premium brand names are importing poor quality tools, presumably from the Far East, and putting their names on them, so you certaily can't rely on branding to guarantee quality. I've also had failures with "professional" tools, particularly fibreglass handled ones which are wonderfully light to use, but nothing like as strong as those with wooden handles.

    You seem to have got through an awful lot of tools tho - are you sure you're not expecting too much of them ?

    As far as recommending a brand is concerned, my current favourite is Bulldog - seem to be well made, in the UK, and the most robust I've come across so far.
  • I've heard that Bulldog branded tools are quite good but have no experience of them myself. My dad swears by buying old (ie almost antique) tools as they were often made to last - handles can be replaced and the steel lasts many lifetimes. Having said that, he didn't have quite the same demands of a professional. He's still using the same spade he bought in Northern Ireland 30 years ago though and used to do a lot of digging in his vegetable garden...
  • lol hello Mr jolly

    For me the best and most reliable have been the old tools like the ones your grandad use to have they never break look at car boot sales.

    New it has to be wilkinson sword with out doubt from B and Q
    • I have to agree with Martin - Wilkinson Sword is the way to go if buying new - great ergonomics and very effective, however as with any tools they need to used appropriately.
      For heavy digging, clearance (even scrub), root extraction, lifting slabs etc. I use an Azada and that saves wear and tear on my 'gardener' quality tools. I would say that the Azada is strong enough and rugged enough to be used by an 'animal' (that's me when getting serious).
      Look at Azadas here I have no affiliation to the company.
  • PRO
    There is a tool section of our affiliate shop at Garden Centre.co.uk if you wanted to check out a few.
  • PRO
    napsack.jpgWhat about the tools of yesteryear - I have a knapsack sprayer that is made of brass and when full, the equipment itself would make up half the weight!

    I covered it in more detail on Landscape Juice - The changing face of gardening tools
  • CK - Great for Secateurs, Shears, etc
    Wilkinson Sword - for mainstream gardening tools
    Felco - possibly the best for Secateurs but at a price
    DO NOT BUY FAITHFUL, OR YOEMAN if you are a professional.
  • i have used a bulldog spade recently, only £9 and has a weight about it and doesnt bend. Not very sharpe though, but could be sharpened. For the price u cant go wrong, if it did break, nothing lost ( in a throw away society). As for pride and a feel good factor, it had non. A couple of years ago after reading a paragragh by Monty Don i bought what i thought was a quality spade. Its crap under heavy use. Looks good though!


    i live in Sheffield where Spear and Jackson is home, even know the family abit...but could i find a comphrehensive supplier?? no
  • We have a direct dial to Spear & Jackson's customer service line. In the end they refunded us rather than keep sending us out replacements for their "lifetime guarantee" tools. We all use the Bulldog range now and their solid steel shovels are the best for the job by far.

    We have ordered an Azada to try that out. Other than that - the best there is, the good old mini digger! Where we need to dig smaller areas we have our very own JCB aka Paul. The guy is amazing. He can lift full wheelbarrows upwards and onto an 8 cu yard skip! No wonder he was the only one to get a pay review within a fortnight.

    Other than that you could try buying off Screwfix. Their recommended by section is normally a good indication of what to buy.

    Lara
  • After reading about the Azada recently on here a friend who had one gave me his on perminant lone (knowing as my tools collection grows he is quids in..and he is) it clears areas I would normally use a spade for in half the time with much less effort, leaving you to shovel what you have done away. This was an excellent tip on here. If you don't have one get one!
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