A garden trowels is a must have tool because it can perform lots of essential tasks.
From digging out weeds to making holes for new plants or bulbs this is a tool that should be on anyone’s basic garden tool list.
Buying a Garden Trowel
Because garden trowels are a simple looking tool you may think it would be very easy just to buy the first one you come across or one that looks attractive. Because there are a lot of variations in blade width, materials and construction, a little consideration is needed before purchase.
Blade Width and Curve
Blade widths and lengths do vary and each has its own uses around the garden. The curvature of the blade or cup also vary greatly.
A narrow pointed blade is especially good for digging out stubborn weeds in a lawn and transplanting small plants. A trowel with a broader wider curved blade will be ideal for digging holes and moving small amounts of earth.
What Materials are they made of?
Because a trowel will be one of your most used garden tools, what it’s made of and the construction has an important part to play in purchasing. Buying a cheap garden trowel and have it bend on the tip of the blade or at the ‘s’ section of the handle is very frustrating.
Blade materials are mostly made of three types of metal. However I have seen plastic garden trowels which although light I would not personally like to try on clay, stony or hard soil.
Aluminium Garden Trowels
Aluminium is a lot lighter than carbon or stainless steel and does not fatigue the hand and wrist so easily.
Aluminium will chip and scratch more easily than steel but if you have weak wrists or limited grip these may
be a good option.
Aluminium trowels are usually cheaper than their steel counterparts.
Maintenance is fairly simple with a quick wash off and dry before storage.
Stainless steel Garden Trowels
Stainless steel trowels have a low soil adhesion which will be very important on clay soils. Good rust resistance. Stainless trowels are usually more expensive than other types.
Maintenance again is fairly simple with a quick wash off and dry before storage.
Carbon Steel Garden Trowels
These have the strongest blade and are ideal for stony and hard soils. Because they are carbon steel they will rust once the powder or chrome coating has been chipped by stones.
This means they should be washed off, dried and then wiped over with an oily rag before stored. They are the heaviest of the three types.
What about the Handles?
Whereas once the traditional tang and ferrule style handle was the only option, many different types of handle are now available.
One piece garden trowels with rubber handles are a good choice for comfort and grip and for people who have trouble gripping.
Wooden handles are still popular using the tang and ferrule method to join the handle to the blade.
This type of joining does have its associated
problems. The ferrule or steel ring can work loose and the tang or point end can then dislodge from the handle. Because of their construction more maintenance is needed on these handles.
They should be cleaned thoroughly paying special attention to the ferrule area. Any dirt or moisture that’s allowed to stay around this area will cause problems later on.
Tips for Garden Trowels
Small garden hand tools are easily lost in shrubs and plants and it can be infuriating trying to find them. If your trowel does not have any bright colours on it, buy a can of fluorescent spray paint and mark the handle. This will make finding it a lot easier.
A general purpose garden trowel is a good first purchase. You can buy more specialized trowels if you find a need for them.