Thursday, 14 April 2011

The joy of hand tools

There’s no denying the usefulness of powered tools in the garden. And while electric models are inexpensive to buy and light in use, the threats of cutting through a power cord, running out of battery charge mid-way through a job, or having proceedings called to an end by a sudden downpour, makes their petrol engined counterparts far more useful. noisy! Not to mention smelly and, let’s face it, not ideal on the environmental front.

Ok, hand tools might be much slower in many cases, but not, it must be said, in all. I’m beginning to suspect that many of us reach too quickly for the power tool, when its finely crafted and well balanced manual counterpart would be a more appropriate solution. Of course, there’s an obvious commercial benefit to being able to do a job quickly, and no doubt the powered tools come in handy in this respect, but there seems to be something slightly incongruous about having to wear ear defenders in such a natural setting as a garden. I wonder how many clients will be happier to forgo the racket and emissions of, for example, my excellent petrol leaf blower, in favour of seeing their gardener working quietly but no less efficiently with a finely honed ash-handled rake and a broom.

I know which I’d rather use. I prefer a more civilised approach – one which doesn’t require all the neighbours to dash indoors and close all the windows – and I think it only sensible to put my trust in the hundreds of years of experience which has handed down to gardeners today tools which are perfectly designed and eminently suited to the tasks for which they are intended.

So, while I can’t promise never to use powered tools – time and cost to both my clients and to my business would dictate otherwise – I think it’s safe to say that they won’t be my default first choice for every task.