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Garden Tools: Which Trowel Is Best for You?

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Garden Tools: Which Trowel Is Best for You?

May 10, 2019

Garden tools can be as addictive to collect as shoes, but how many hand shovels do you really need?

When it comes to trowels, diggers, and weeders, there are a few rules of thumb. Narrow blades are good for teasing out weeds from tight cracks. Serrated edges will cut through roots. Curved trowels will cradle soil or seedlings (for transport without spillage).

For your consideration, we’ve rounded up six of our favorites—some with pointed blades for digging, others with rounded tips for scooping. (And be sure to read the comments at the end for more recommendations from readers. Let us know if we forgot your favorite digger or trowel or weeder: We’d love to add it to our list.)

Photography by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista.

Scoop Trowel

A .5-inch-long Forged Iron Trowel has a loop for hanging and is $48 for a set of 4 from Modish Store.
Above: A 10.5-inch-long Forged Iron Trowel has a loop for hanging and is $48 for a set of 4 from Modish Store.
  • What It’s Good For: Scooping dirt or transplanting shallow-rooted seedlings.
  • How to Use It: The curved shape makes it easy to scoop and carry soil, compost, or fertilizer.
  • Care and Maintenance: Brush off dirt before rinsing with warm water; dry with a soft towel.

Bamboo Trowel

Shaped from a single piece of bamboo (and certified organic), Bambu Home&#8
Above: Shaped from a single piece of bamboo (and certified organic), Bambu Home’s Garden Trowel is $5.36 at Camp Saver.
  • What It’s Good For: Transplanting houseplants in potting soil, or mixing fertilizer and other amendments into loose soil.
  • How to Use It: Designed to fit comfortably in your grip, a bamboo trowel has blunt edges and can remove soil clots from roots without damaging plants.
  • Care and Maintenance: “Washes up easily in warm water and a scrub,” notes manufacturer Bambu Home.

Hori Hori

From Japan, a stainless steel Serrated Edge Hori Hori comes with a holster and is $.90 at Hida Tool & Hardware.
Above: From Japan, a stainless steel Serrated Edge Hori Hori comes with a holster and is $27.90 at Hida Tool & Hardware.
  • What It’s Good For: Cutting, weeding, and digging in compacted soil.
  • How to Use It: Saw through roots with the serrated blade and dig into tight spots with the sharp, narrow tip.
  • Care and Maintenance: Rust resistant (with a tempered stainless steel blade); wipe dry with a clean cloth after each use.

Planting Trowel

Handmade in Holland, a DeWit Dutch Trowel has a sharp-edged Boron steel head and an ash handle. It is $
Above: Handmade in Holland, a DeWit Dutch Trowel has a sharp-edged Boron steel head and an ash handle. It is $22.64 at Home Depot.
  • What It’s Good For: Digging and planting.
  • How to Use It: Rely on the sharp-bladed edge to cut up roots that are in the way as you dig a hole for a plant.
  • Care and Maintenance: With a lifetime guarantee, the tempered steel head will not bend or curl. Wipe clean with a damp soft cloth after use.

Weeding Trowel

Hand forged in the Netherlands, a Sneeboer Weeding Trowel is $50 from Shed.
Above: Hand forged in the Netherlands, a Sneeboer Weeding Trowel is $50 from Shed.
  • What It’s Good For: Removing deep-rooted weeds and digging narrow holes for transplants.
  • How to Use It: Dig out dandelions’ taproots and use the narrow blade to weed in tight spaces.
  • Care and Maintenance: Treat with linseed oil before its first use to prevent wood handle from drying out and to keep dirt from sticking to the blade. Wipe clean after use.
This white metal Scoop stamped from a single piece of metal and coated in enamel paint is from Japanese gardening tool maker Saboten. You can find a similar version (in orange) in the set of Saboten Gardening Tools sold at Ode to Things for $50 (includes 3 tools).
Above: This white metal Scoop stamped from a single piece of metal and coated in enamel paint is from Japanese gardening tool maker Saboten. You can find a similar version (in orange) in the set of Saboten Gardening Tools sold at Ode to Things for $50 (includes 3 tools).
  • What It’s Good For: Planting bulbs and seedlings at precise depths. Hard to lose in the garden because of its bright color.
  • How to Use It: Measure planting depth with the guide on the blade.
  • Care and Maintenance: Clean with soapy water and wipe dry after use to prevent rusting.
The right tool for the job? Each digger, weeder, transplanter, trowel, or hand shovel has its own fan base. Whether you think you need all six depends; how many pairs of black shoes you have in your closet?
Above: The right tool for the job? Each digger, weeder, transplanter, trowel, or hand shovel has its own fan base. Whether you think you need all six depends; how many pairs of black shoes you have in your closet?

N.B.: This post is an update; it was first published on June 29, 2017.

For more of our favorite tools of the trade, see:

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