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Are we forking out for wasted gardening tools?

According to our recent research* a third of the UK’s population owns gardening tools and equipment that they have rarely if ever used. One-in-ten of us has a strimmer that has hardly been off its hook in the garage; 8% of us buy seeds and plants that never make it into the ground, while 5% of Brits buy wheelbarrows for no particular reason.

We moan about droughts killing our lawns and 4% of us buy sprinklers that we never connect to the tap; we say we want more colour in our lives but 5% of us - that’s around 3 million people - purchase garden lighting that doesn’t make it out of the box.

Perhaps understandably, people over 55-years-old are most likely to buy tools and equipment they ultimately do not use. This may be because of health or fitness issues or perhaps  greater disposable incomes more time spent thinking about how to ease their gardening burdens.

Unneccessary spending

Ecclesiastical’s study of 2,000 Britons reveals that 44% of over-55s fail to use some item of equipment compared with just 18% of 18-24-year-olds. The other group that tends not to use  gardening equipment are widows: just over half (51%) admitted to  unnecessary spending on gardening gadgets.

“It does come as a bit of surprise,” notes Ecclesiastical’s head of home insurance , Dave Simms. “Many of us have this view that the British love gardens and gardening more than many other nationalities. We’ve certainly got the climate for it. But on closer inspection, we may not be quite as keen as we’d imagined.”

While unused gardening equipment is not in itself a problem, it does represent a huge financial investment sitting in our garages and sheds that makes a nice target for the criminal fraternity.

Expensive equipment

According to a study from 2009, the average Briton spends £20,000 during their lifetime on their beloved plot; a fair portion is apparently going to end up sitting in the garage or shed unloved and unused.

Simms continues “Most British garages contain around £2,500 of equipment, not including vehicles, so it’s important to keep them secure. Sheds and garden outbuildings can also be home to a lot of expensive gear. For example, a cheaper ride-on lawn mower can cost well over £1,000.”

Tips to stay safe

In order to keep gardening tools and equipment safe, Simms recommends:

  • Fitting good quality locks to sheds and garages 

  • If your garage has an electric door, check you have it switched to the locked setting when it is closed 

  • Make sure all shed and garage windows are secure 

  • Check your fencing to see if there’s any way in which an intruder could easily slip into your back garden 

  • Gravel can look great and is also an excellent way of detecting intruders. It’s almost impossible to walk on gravel without making a loud noise 

  • Think about installing motion-activated lights 

  • Consider whether you need to buy an alarm for your shed or garage


As Dave himself notes, the one major flaw with this advice is that if half the population has a penchant for buying equipment  which remains unused, an lot of alarms and lighting may end up on the shelves of the sheds they are supposed to be protecting.

Gardens can be a soft touch for nefarious thieves and our delight in buying labour-saving devices only serves to make them more attractive. Who knows; perhaps the next stage in our evolution will be learning to protect them properly.

Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc (EIG) Reg No 1718196. Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc (EIO) Reg No 24869. Ecclesiastical Life Ltd (ELL) Reg No 243111. Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services Ltd (EFAS) Reg No 2046087. Ecclesiastical Underwriting Management Ltd (EUML) Reg No 2368571. E.I.O. Trustees Ltd Reg No 941199. EdenTree Investment Management Ltd (EIM) Reg No 2519319. All companies are registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JZ. EIO and ELL are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 113848 (EIO) and 110318 (ELL). EFAS and EIM are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 126123 (EFAS) and 527473 (EIM). EUML is an appointed representative of EIO who is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 402228.