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Home » Hand Tools » Digging and Weeding Tools

Digging and Weeding Tools

Along with the cutting and pruning of plants, digging, weeding and turning of the soil are the most frequent activities in gardening. Weeding, planting and cultivation require tools designed for the job in hand. No single tool will take care of all chores, so a basic selection is required.

Garden spades.

spadesThe garden spade is one of the most important garden tools. For gardeners, there are two basic types, the digging spade and the border spade. They both do the same thing but border spades have smaller, narrower blades to get amongst the plants in a flower bed. Being lighter and easier to handle, border spades are better suited to the less agile gardener.

The shaft length of most spades is around 70 cm and this will suit the majority of people. If you are particularly tall, it may be worth getting a telescopic spade to reduce back strain.

The spade handle can be of either a D Y or T shape and made from wood or plastic, often with a rubber covering. The shafts are made from plastic coated metal, wood (usually Ash) or fibreglass. A good choice is a tool with an ash shaft and a plastic handle as both shaft and handle will be replaceable in years to come.

As for the spade head, the best material for a long working life is tempered carbon steel. It has good resistance to wear and excellent tensile strength. For heavy soils such as clay, polished stainless steel is a good choice as it will not rust and has minimal soil adhesion.

Garden Forks.

forksAfter a digging spade, the next essential tool is a fork. The garden digging fork is designed to penetrate into heavy or compact soil much more easily than a garden spade. Forks are also the best tools for lifting root vegetables without damaging them and for teasing out deep rooted weeds. Shifting and mixing the contents of your compost bin is much easier with a fork than with a spade or shovel.

Like the garden spade, digging forks are available in two basic types. A bigger version for general duties, and a smaller border fork for more confined areas. The range of handles and shaft materials is the same as for garden spades.

Look for an ash shaft with a plastic 'D' shaped handle to enable easy replacement. As with spades, the best choice of material for the head is carbon steel for its superior tensile strength. The tines of cheaper forks will bend and snap eventually. The anti stick advantages of stainless steel for a garden fork are not really noticeable due to the thin profile of the tines.

Hand trowels and forks.

hand

The hand trowel is most often used for planting smaller items such as bulbs and bedding plants. There are dozens of different varieties of trowel available. Some will have a straight tang (shaft) for digging straight down into the soil (planting bulbs for example), whilst others will have an angled tang for more general cultivation.

If you have large hands, go for a fork with long tang to avoid hitting your knuckles on the blade. The thinner bladed transplanting models are good for planting seedlings and often have depth gauges imprinted onto the blade for accurate planting depth.

Many manufacturers sell interchangeable head and attachment systems which allow all manner of different tools to be used on the same shaft or shafts of different lengths. Perhaps the best known manufacturer of multi-tools is Wolf Garten.

Garden Hoes.

Draw hoe

The common garden hoe (or draw hoe) is designed to cut the tops off annual weeds and for breaking up the surface of the soil.

Dutch hoe

The Dutch hoe (scuffle hoe) is also used to chop the tops of weeds. It is designed to be pushed in front of you rather than pulled towards you like a common garden hoe.

Other weeding tools.

In addition to the basic hand trowel and fork, there are other types of small hand tools specifically designed for certain tasks. The weed grubber is essentially a screwdriver with a notch in the end and is used to tease out the roots of perennial weeds, especially useful for weeding the lawn.

Cultivators, or grubbers as they are sometimes called are pronged tools available in both short and long shafted versions. They used for breaking up and lifting the soil in between plants and shrubs and for removing shallow rooted weeds.

The Wolf weeder is designed to remove deep rooted weeds from lawns and borders with minimal soil disturbance and patio weeders are designed to remove all types of weed from in between paving slabs.