The Trowel – The Most Versatile of Garden Tools

By Mary Ellen Ellis | February 26, 2021
Image by herreid
by Mary Ellen Ellis
February 26, 2021

I’m the classic Jack of all trades, master of none. I don’t specialize in anything, mostly because I’m interested in everything. I have a hard time focusing long enough to master one task or skill when something else attracts my attention. I’m like the garden trowel, my most versatile tool. 

The Versatility of the Garden Trowel

If I had to describe myself as any of my favorite garden tools, it would be my trusty trowel. Like me, it’s versatile. It can do a lot, even if it isn’t the master of any particular task. It can move soil, but not a lot. It digs holes, but not very fast. It can chop roots, but not as effectively as a knife or shears

With limited space or funds, but an interest in gardening, you must have a trowel. Here’s what you can do with it: 

  • Dig holes for seeds, seedlings, and small transplants. 
  • Dig bigger holes for new perennials or small shrubs. 
  • Move soil from the bag of potting soil to a container. 
  • Turn the soil to prepare a bed. 
  • Chop at roots and weeds. 
  • Pat down the soil in a container or around new plantings. 
  • Spread mulch in small areas. 
  • Dig up weeds. 
  • Shape borders and edges of beds. 

How to Choose the Perfect Trowel

Because of its many uses, a garden trowel is an essential tool. If you have nothing else in your toolbox, have a high-quality trowel. Look for an ergonomic handle for comfort. A wooden handle will also keep you more comfortable, as it absorbs forces better than metal. 

The trowel should be steel with an edge you can keep sharp for cutting roots. Many trowels come with depth markings on the blade. This is useful for measuring seed depth and transplant spacing. 

When selecting a trowel, go to the garden center so you can pick them up and feel them. It should feel good in your hand, heavy to indicate quality but light enough to be comfortable. A good trowel will take you far and help you conquer most jobs in the garden.

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