I adore gardening – there's nothing I'd rather do more. Alas, like many others, I also have a day job, which is why it's so important that when I do get a spare hour or two in the garden, I don't waste it on peripheral tasks such as weeding (I mulch, instead) or edge trimming (I use raised beds and permanent paths). And it's especially important that I don't spend my time hunting for my gardening tools (Grrrrrrrrrr! Close family members please take note!).
All that searching for tools left lying in the last place they were used is now over, however, thanks to the best piece of garden infrastructure I've ever built – my simple tool rack. You wouldn't believe the difference it's made to my life. The old saying, "A place for everything and everything in its place" certainly counts when it comes to the garden. And, to be fair to my family, if there's no designated, easy-to-reach place to grab tools from and return them to, it's no wonder they get left out in the rain.
My tool rack holds up to fifteen implements and is so easy to construct that absolutely anyone could make one. It consists of a metre long piece of 4 x 2 (or 3 x 2) wood and six 32cm lengths of 1.5cm diameter metal pipe (I cut my pipe into pieces using a hacksaw). Drill three pairs of holes into the length of wood, spacing them as shown in the diagram below. The holes need to be of the same diameter as the pipes because the pipes get hammered into them. They also need to be angled so that the pipes slope slightly upwards after they've been hammered in. I drilled my holes with an old fashioned brace and bit but if you took your metre-long length of wood into a joiner's, they'd have the job done for you in minutes (and probably swop the labour for a batch of scones!).
Once the pipes have been hammered in, all you need to do is find a convenient place to hammer up your tool rack. It could go on the inside wall of the garage, on a wall under the eves of your house, or even on the trunk of a big, sheltering tree. When the rack is in place, hang tools such as spades and forks by threading the pipes through the handles. Hang tools such as shovels and rakes upside down with the handle between the pipes. With the addition of a couple of long nails, you can even hang smaller implements between the larger ones. It's so satisfying that you (and your family) will find it a joy to store your tools away neatly when finished with them. And, best of all, it will save hours of searching for whatever it was you left lying where you last used it!
- Paint the handles of small tools, such as hand forks and trowels, with bright red paint. You'll never lose them if they get dropped amongst the weeds or accidentally tipped into the compost pile.
- Keep a scraper hanging on your tool rack and give your muddy tools a once over before you hang them up.
- Keep a bucket of fine, dry river sand, mixed with oil, beside your tool rack. When the tools are scraped clean, dip them in the sand mix to keep rust at bay.
- A hand file is useful for a quick sharpen-up of a spade or shovel head but, every now and then, tools can do with a thorough sharpen on an angle grinder.