Getting the garden in shape after a long winter can be less than thrilling, but there are a whole new raft of products that offer fast results for time-poor townies.
For instance, if getting on your hands and knees with a trowel for several hours holds little appeal, grab your weeding weapons at the nearest garden centre, and you won’t even need to stoop.
Hozelock’s Green Power Thermal Weeder is a modern take on the blow-torch school of gardening. Instead of a flame, the long wand, at the press of a button, delivers a thermal shock that destroys weeds in paths and paving.
There’s no danger of killing the family cat or burning your toes, as a protective cone at the base allows you to target the weed in isolation.
For beds and borders, Burgon & Ball’s Weed Slice is a revolutionary quick-acting hoe with a compact, arrow-shaped steel head that exceptionally cuts on both the push and pull strokes so, hoorah, cuts weeding time by half.
WEED OUT EXTRA STRESS
Ditch the unwieldy loppers and use just one pair of secateurs for all kinds of pruning, from slim stems to small branches. Ratchet system secateurs from Jardin de France can cut through branches of up to 20mm diameter, and the gradual cutting system — four small squeezes on the handle instead of a single, strenuous one — means you exert less force, so is especially useful for weak grips like mine.
Meanwhile, what we all need, especially at this time of year, is a spade that slices through soil like a knife through butter, so you can dig without breaking a sweat or breaking your back.
Burgon & Ball’s classic border spade is endorsed by the RHS and has a stainless steel, rust-resistant head that moves cleanly through soil, has a wide ‘tread’ to prevent foot stress and is an absolute breeze to clean.
Of course, if you adopt the effective no-dig policy for your garden borders, raised beds or veg plot, you won’t need a spade at all. You simply spread a 5cm-deep mulch of Growing Success’s No Dig Soil Improver on the surface of the soil, and let the worms do the rest.
This organic compost, available from any garden centre this spring, will suppress weeds and, more importantly for Londoners with heavy clay soil, helps break down clay so it is more workable.
Give grubby outdoor furniture, steps, paths and paving a speedy clean-up with a high pressure washer.
Karcher’s Waterwise-approved range can be used with harvested water from a water butt and is purported to have up to 35 times more power than a garden hose. Less forcefully, apply Wet & Forget, an algae and mould remover, to any grubby outdoor surface and lose the scrubbing brush. The rain activates the product and obligingly does the clean-up job for you — but over time.
SHOW YOUR TRUE COLOURS
Ubiquitous fencing in regulation brown can be transformed with a lick of paint, unifying disparate panels. Copy the designers’ trick and use a dark colour that will make all that wood less obtrusive and provide an effective backdrop for planting, but note that a garden stain will fade and needs annual reapplication.
Instead, use a weatherproof paint that is rainproof within an hour and will give a more opaque and protective finish. Ronseal’s hard-wearing Garden Paint, in 24 shades from Elderflower to Blackbird, can also be used to give everything in the garden, barring plants, a shiny new springtime coat — metal benches or watering cans, wooden dining tables, the garden shed, terracotta pots and even brickwork and stone. Now that’s what I call versatile.
GREAT GARDEN HELPERS