Now, we know the old adage states that a good craftsman should never-ever blame his tools, but we don’t agree with this (no offence to the person who came up with it). You see, part of the reason why your lawn never seems to look as award-winning as Keen Kevin’s next door is because he uses all the proper equipment which, by its very definition, makes maintaining his irresistibly gorgeous lawn way easier. That’s why we recommend you ignore the adage that’s been holding you back for so many years and pop along to whatever local gardening centre has an end of season sale on and get yourself some proper equipment.
The bad news is: this sounds expensive. We get that. However, there is some good news to counter this: you don’t need to fork out for the most expensive options. No. Not at all. So long as you buy equipment that is pretty decent quality and you look after it correctly, you’ll find they have a shelf life longer than The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York (translation: years and years and years and years).
Anyway, now that we’ve sprinkled that bit of cheer on your life, it’s time to tell you exactly which 8 tools Keen Kevin has in his shed so that you can take his place as the owner of the best looking lawn from Teesside to Timbuktu:
- Mowers Are A Must-Have
Life is chock-full of complexities everywhere you look, so it is nice to stumble across a simple equation every so often, such as this one: if you have a lawn then you either need a lawnmower or you need a pair of nail scissors and a whole lot of patience. Luckily for your lawn, you’re probably more attracted to the mower option, in which you have two main choices:
- Rock The Rotary: Given it is not the year 1753, pretty much every mower these days is a rotary mower, whether it runs on electricity or some sort of fossil fuel, and how they work is pretty simple: a horizontal blade spins super-fast allowing it to lop the tops off your grass (so long as the blade is sharp that is, otherwise you’ll just tear the grass and that is not a shortcut to first prize in your village lawn care competition). To delve into the ways of the rotary a little bit more, you can get mowers that you push yourself, ones that sort of propel themselves with a lever and some that you can ride on (and then enter into some races because you are a man-child). Another thing to consider when buying a mower is what you want to do with the grass clippings, in which you can either collect them in a bag, disperse them out the sides or give them back to the earth with a mulching blade. It’s your call.
- As Reel As It Gets: The other mower you can choose is a reel / cylinder mower which, for those who have never heard of one before, is about as archaic as a Spinning Jenny; at least in the sense it is powered by you pushing it. Mmm hmmm. That means they’re pretty much only good for teeny-tiny lawns. That said, these little suckers are enjoying a bit of a comeback at the moment, which is partly to do with them giving off zero-emissions, partly to do with the fact they are cheap, and partly to do with the quality of cut they produce, especially if the shearing blade is kept sharp. The only downside is, you can’t be lazy with one of these and that’s because they are hard work to operate and because they don’t cut very well if your grass gets too long.
- It’s Trimmer Time
Another must-have bit of kit that Keen Kevin has been hiding from you is the string trimmer, which is basically a handheld device used to get those bits of grass your mower can’t reach, namely those bits around your garden shed, trees, fences, trampoline, flower beds, your Wendy house and your actual house. The way they work is this: the head has plastic twine extending out of it which, when it spins super-fast, cuts your grass. It’s pretty cool, even if the bzzzzzz sound is utterly terrifying. As for their power source, you can either get an electric one or one that takes fuel n’ oil.
- Close Your Eyes And Spray
In case you hadn’t noticed already, pretty much anything that can plague your lawn will plague your lawn. It’s part and parcel of garden ownership. However, of all the lawn problems out there, weeds are the most common, most annoying and most harmful. That’s why you need to add at least a two-gallon sprayer to your shopping list; or a five-gallon one if you have a big area to cover. This is for (what we like to call) a little bit of spot-weeding… and we love it. Seriously. Blasting weeds with a sprayer while pretending you’re Dr. Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters is one of the best feelings ever.
- Rake It Off, Rake It Off
Moving past the fact we just did a Taylor Swift play on words, you need to invest in a good quality rake, whether that be a fan-style, a rigid tooth or both, and that is because raking is one of those gardening tasks that is way too undervalued. First off, they’re excellent tools when it comes to removing the dreaded thatch from your lawn, not mention collecting leaves when autumn comes around. But that isn’t all. Raking is also a great workout (arms, chest and abs to be precise), as well as putting you in touch with your lawn in ways you never thought possible. Okay, we might have gone too far with that one, but you get the drift – rakes are awesome.
- The Edge Of Perfection
You’re right, having an edger is a little bit keen. But that’s the whole point. We’re rifling through Keen Kevin’s shed to see how he’s managed to get his lawn perfect, and you can be certain he has an edger kicking about. Maybe even a power edger (which is sort of like a strimmer, but with metal blades). Anyway, you don’t need to go that far and get one that runs on volts because a handheld edger will give you the same gorgeous finish.
If you’ve never used an edger before and don’t know what to expect from this odd semi-circular device, we’re talking about you creating dramatic lines where your lawn finishes, such as where the grass meets your garden path and/or flower beds. If you were a stickler, then you would say that this doesn’t really constitute as essential, and that would be a fair assessment. But if you are serious about having an immaculate lawn to stare at while doing the dishes, then you need to add an edger to your arsenal. Fact.
- Aerators Are Awesome
In the same way Alan Turing’s Bombe machine became the hero of WW2, an aerator can become the hero of your lawn. Now we wouldn’t recommend you invest in a motor-propelled aerator – even if you own a garden twice the size of Buckingham Palace – because it will be much more efficient to just call in the professionals. Actually, that is probably the best option no matter what. Nonetheless, if you fancy having the choice, or you just want to help any small compacted areas of your garden breathe properly again, then you should at least pick up a pitchfork-style aerator.
What aeration does is allow your grassroots to get all the nutrients they need to survive and thrive, which things like thatch, draught and compacted soil try their best to threaten. That’s our overview of it, anyway. If, however, you want to know what the fudge aeration is in more detail, then you should definitely read our blog on the matter (it’s excellent, even if we do say so ourselves).
- Spreaders Make It Special
Another gadget that will do wonders for your lawn (read: make it lusher than the canopy of a rainforest) is a spreader. This way you can apply things like fertiliser, seeds and pesticides evenly, instead of doing by hand and hoping you do it right, even though you are secretly accepting you haven’t. Sure, these beauties can get a little pricey, but they tend to last a solid amount of years, which makes them great value.
- Scarification For The Nation
What we call lawn scarifiers, and the Americans call dethatchers, are essential garden tools that are specifically designed to cut through to the soil, removing thatch, moss and dead grass cuttings in the process. Just in case you didn’t know, this is a good thing because it means your grassroots get more water and nutrients. Yay. Much like with a mower, your choices are a) electric, b) manual or c) a mower attachment, so it is kind of down to how energised you are feeling. Now you may not use it every day, every week or even every month, but it is worth having if you want that lawn of yours to look even more perfect than an Ikea kitchen.