The garden trowel: The gardener's utility tool

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Much like garden gloves, and possibly even weeding tools, the garden trowel is one of several gardening tools that the hobby or professional gardeners simply cannot live without.

garden trowelThe garden trowel is nothing more than a small shovel really, but it is a piece of gardening equipment that gets almost constant use.

In addition to the basic garden trowel most people are familiar with, some trowels have serrated edges on the shovel blade, and when it comes to handles, there are several options.

The original trowel was different however and some are still made in that way. It was, basically, a bricklayer's trowel and it was used in a backwards pulling motion to open a hole in which to put the plant. Sneerboer from the Netherlands still forges a similar style today and it is that kind of trowel that is the one used in the tulip fields of Holland.

If you are buying a trowel for the first time, it is probably a good idea to visit the local garden center and give the trowel a “test drive”, so to speak to get the right one for you.

It should feel comfortable and be well constructed with a sturdy handle and a forged carbon- or stainless steel blade. Do not skimp on quality and chose a cheap one just because it is cheap.

If you prefer a hardwood handle make sure it’s smooth to prevent splinters with a reinforced interface between the handle and blade. Other handle options are available and work just as well including those that allow for a soft grip like the OXO Good Grip versions with a gel filled handle or the Thingamedig from Dalsonware Pty Ltd, Australia.

Another option for finding garden trowels and other small garden tools is to visit flea markets or 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. Avoid too much rust (you can always get rid of a little bit of rust), worn and splintered handles, or excessive wear.

But latter source, as far as antique tool markets and such are concerned can be a more expensive option to buying a quality trowel new. On flea markets, trunk sales (car boot sales) and in so-called Charity Shops (if the latter have any) good secondhand garden tools may be had for less than in the garden centers.

Also, I am sure, you will want for more than just one single garden trowel as they are a little like horse for courses and a small transplanting one also will come in very handy indeed.

© 2013