The garden trowel

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Garden trowel1 The garden trowel is one of several gardening tools that the hobby or professional gardener simply cannot live without. The garden trowel is nothing more than a small shovel really, but it’s a piece of equipment that gets almost constant use, especially during the busy spring gardening season and in the autumn as well.

In addition to the basic garden trowel most people are familiar with, some trowels have serrated edges on the shovel blade and are shaped rather differently, such as the Thingamadig (one of my favorites), and when it comes to handles, there are several options.

If you are buying a trowel for the first time, it might be a good idea to visit the local garden center or garden tool stands at a garden show and give a trowel or two a “test drive”, for lack of a better word.

It should feel comfortable and be well constructed with a sturdy handle and a carbon or forged steel blade. Don’t skimp on quality. If you prefer a hardwood handle make sure it’s smooth to prevent splinters with a reinforced interface between the handle and blade.

When it comes to the blade there is one exception that I would make and that is for the Radius® Trowel, where the blade is made from extremely solid aluminium. The Radius® Trowel (and other hand tools) is another one of my favorite along with the Thingamadig, though I also have a very old “ordinary” trowel that is a favorite of mine. In addition to that I have a couple of other trowels too that get used every now and then. It is a bit of “horses for course” and all have their uses for particular tasks.

A good high-quality trowel is not going to be cheap, so do not expect one to buy, new, for a few bucks only. Anything under about $15 to $20, in my opinion, is more than likely trash, unless it is a Bulldog trowel (Clarington Forge in the USA). There you can get some quality ones for a little less than that.

Another option for finding garden trowels (and other small garden tools) is to visit car boot sales, flea markets or even antique and collectible shops that specialize in antique garden and farm tools. These tools were built to last so in most cases you can’t go wrong. Just avoid too much rust (you can always get rid of a little bit of rust with a wire brush and some other aids), worn and splintered handles, or excessive wear.

Ergonomic tools, such as the Radius® ones are a great choice if you do suffer from arthritis, for instance. They were, in fact, designed to overcome the strain that causes pain. Also learn how to keep tools clean and sharp.

© 2011