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Hand shears, sword saw, broadfork – hobby gardeners can learn this from the professionals

Hand shears, pruning shears, sword saw: when Hansjörg Haas cuts trees and bushes, he always has these tools with him.

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Hand shears, sword saw, broadfork – hobby gardeners can learn this from the professionals

Hand shears, pruning shears, sword saw: when Hansjörg Haas cuts trees and bushes, he always has these tools with him. "Most trees and shrubs in the garden can be cared for with these three tools," says the nursery gardener and horticultural engineer from Herbolzheim near Freiburg.

He uses the hand shears for smaller shoots up to two centimeters thick – “no longer,” he emphasizes. "The cut should be possible with little effort, smooth and clean so that the wound heals quickly." Haas uses bypass scissors in which the blade runs past the anvil on one side.

Garden blogger Sandra Jägers from Hürth near Cologne can also rarely be found in the beds without secateurs. She doesn't have a preference for any particular type. “It doesn't have to be the newest and fanciest model. A good pair of universal scissors is enough for pruning, harvesting and removing diseased or dead plant parts from perennials,” she says.

From the point of view of the garden professionals, it is important that the pruning shears lie well in the hand and are easy to maintain and repair. Thorough cleaning and re-sharpening once a year is a must - the scissors should therefore be able to be disassembled.

Hansjörg Haas recommends hand scissors with inwardly inclined handles. "When opening, the scissor handles don't gape so far apart." This is practical - not only for people with small hands, but because it saves energy.

Universal scissors can be used by both right-handed and left-handed people, adds Sandra Jägers. "But there are also scissors only for left-handers."

For branches with a maximum diameter of four centimeters, Hansjörg Haas uses the pruning shears. Here, too, the tree nursery gardener prefers bypass models whose blades can be easily removed.

"With the pruning shears, I can remove the shoots from ornamental and berry bushes at ground level without having to bend down too much," says Haas. He also uses the pruning shears to pruning trees – but from the ladder. "From the horizontal I can remove steep shoots more cleanly than when I work overhead."

When the scissors reach their limits, sawing begins. Nursery gardener Haas relies on manual tree or sword saws - not just because they are lighter. “A hand saw requires strength. That's why I think twice or three times whether the branch has to go. I don't think about it with cordless tools."

The sword saw only works when pulled, so the handle should be non-slip. Hansjörg Haas finds models with a holder or one that can be folded up not only to be practical, but also essential for safe work on the tree.

His advice: “Never handle the wood with tools in your hands. Do not pull the branch out of the tree until you have safely put the saw away.”

Unlike scissor blades, saw blades cannot be re-filed. The nursery gardener therefore recommends quality brands. "Very cheap saws quickly become blunt because the material is inferior."

Change of scene – from the treetop to the level bed: Organic flower gardener Peggy Giertz from Großwoltersdorf (Brandenburg) uses a broadfork to gently till the soil before sowing. This form of double grave fork - also known as grelinette in France - is available in different versions.

The construction is reminiscent of a wide rake: the thick, long tines are attached to a wide handle. There are two stems at each end.

To move the fork deep in the ground, the gardener stands on the spar and rocks back and forth. The earth is loosened and aerated by the bucking, but not turned over, says Peggy Giertz. "It's good for soil life."

Since working with the broadfork is tiring, the organic flower gardener recommends a model that fits your body size and is not too heavy. The soil conditions can also influence the type: The Grelinette with its generally shorter, narrow tines is suitable for light soil. The Broadfork easily penetrates heavy soil with its knife-like tines.

Peggy Giertz uses a Japanese hand hoe to loosen the soil under the plants and remove weeds. The crescent-shaped blade protrudes at right angles from the handle and can be dragged flat through the ground.

"The hand hoe is very manoeuvrable, so I can get close to the plants in the row without injuring them," says the gardener.

Peggy Giertz also uses the Japanese hand hoe for planting. “I pull away the soil with the tip and place the seedling in the trough.” However, the sickle has to be sharpened from time to time to keep it sharp. Peggy Giertz therefore recommends durable, forged tools with a sturdy handle.

Sandra Jägers uses a wide planting trowel to insert it. "I can use it to loosen the soil, dig holes for new plantings and even remove perennials and their roots."

Your advice for the purchase: The trowel should be stable and the handle non-slip, since great forces can act on both, especially when working in dry and hard soil. And: "The connection between the handle and blade must be well made so that nothing bends," says Jägers.

The blogger collects the fruits of her gardening in a harvest basket. She herself uses an old metal model that can also be bought used at flea markets. Her tip: "Before you buy it, take the basket in your hand and see if the basket is well balanced and the handle feels comfortable in your hand."

The braid should not be too coarse. "Otherwise radishes, small tomatoes or beans will slip through." To ensure that the basket lasts longer, Saskia Jägers recommends keeping it in the garden shed when the weather is damp. "Clean the basket with a brush after each harvest and it will last forever."

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