Diggtngawd Materialshandling Tools

Some gardeners use one tool for all their digging; others have a range from which to choose. Before going any further consider the following:

Wilt your use of the toot be light or heavy?

Shovels are constructed in one of three basic ways— hollow-back, closed-back, or solid-shank, hot-tapered. The type of construction determines their strength, the amount of abuse they will withstand and, naturally, their price.

Shoveling Fork

Figure 4.01 Plastic hand tools

These indoor/outdoor hand tools are lightweight durable and made of tough, molded plastic. They are immune to garden chemicals and weather. The trowel has a built-in depth scale to help in planting.


Albert Street

Eden Mills, Ontario, Canada, NOB IPO

Figure 4.01 Plastic hand tools

These indoor/outdoor hand tools are lightweight durable and made of tough, molded plastic. They are immune to garden chemicals and weather. The trowel has a built-in depth scale to help in planting.


Albert Street

Eden Mills, Ontario, Canada, NOB IPO

Hollow-back shovels and spades derive their name from a ridge stamped into the center of the blade for strength and reinforcement This type of shovel is generally least expensive and holds up reasonably to light-to-moderate garden use.

Closed-back (or fast-back) shovels are completely closed in back by a strap welded over the conventional back area. This reinforces the blade and prevents drag and deadweight from mud and dirt A closed-back shovel is stronger than a hollow-back shovel and is well-suited for moderate to heavy garden use.

A solid-shank, hot-tapered shovel is forged from a single piece of steel. Blade and socket are one piece, with no welds or seams—this is the most durable type of construction. There are several grades of solid-shank shovels designed for different conditions, from home-garden to heavy-duty industrial use. These shovels are not cheap, but they will stand up for long time under a heavy workload.

Do you need a shovel for digging, for moving materials, or for both? A standard round-point shovel will do an excellent job of digging and a passable job of moving peat moss and similar material. If you intend to move sawdust, gravel, straw, leaves, and the like, you should consider buying one of the more specialized shovels or forks described below.

Do you have a soil condition that requires a specialized tool? You can handle light to medium soil with a standard shovel, but if your soil is extremely hard or if it contains lots of rocks or roots, consider a spade or mattock. For cutting through roots you can purchase a shovel with a serrated rather than a standard blade.

Types of shovels

With the answers to the above questions in mind, read through the following descriptions of different shovels and select the model or models that best meet your particular needs.

Round-point shovel: Most gardeners say this is the best all-around tool for digging, scooping and shoveling. The blade is set at a slight angle to the handle. These shovels are manufactured with several variations. The clipped-point and caprock patterns, for instance, are flatter across the end than standard models. Some gardeners believe that these blunted points dig better in moist, wet soil. Other types of shovels include the deep-bowl and the semiflat bowl, which vary in their capacity to carry earth and other material, and the irrigation shovel, which has a straight instead of an angled shank. Some people find it easier to use an irrigation shovel when digging holes or ditches with straight edges.

At the back edge of the round-point shovel's blade (called a step), the shovel is cut off square—sometimes part of the back edge is extended beyond the shovel and turned backward, forward, or rolled to form a smooth step, forward-turn step, or rolled step. They simply make it easier to place a foot on the back portion of the shovel for digging.

Anyone who has tried to cut through roots knows it's an impossible job with a standard round-point shovel. A serrated point is the solution. A shovel with a serrated point will easily cut through hard soil, soil laced with masses of small roots and heavy roots an inch thick and more. In addition, a shovel with a serrated point will clean out roots from ditches and other areas where you would otherwise have to use an axe.

Square-blade shovel: This shovel digs only moderately well, but it holds a good-sized load when you need to move soil, peat moss and other materials. It is useful for picking up the last of a pile of rotted manure or similar material and for leveling areas around the garden.

Spade: This is stronger than most shovels. A spade has an almost flat blade and straight sides. Many gardeners use it to dig and turn the soil, to work in fertilizers, manures, sawdusts, etc., to dig trenches or to cut straight edges into the ground. A long-bladed spade is good for turning soil to a good depth or for digging deeply in one spot

Scoop shovels: A deep blade for moving bulk materials such as bark, sawdust, gravel and similar material is the outstanding feature of scoop shovels. They are available in many variations of sizes and weights. The blades are made of either aluminum (to make them lighter for heavier jobs) or high-carbon steel. They are generally hollow-backed in design and construction.

Forks and other tools

A spading fork is better than a shovel for digging hard soil, rocks or roots; a spading fork is also useful for loosening around plants and working in soil amendments. The standard mode, which has 11-inch diamondback shaped tines, works well in most soils. The English pattern, which has inch-long square tines, is used for heavy soils. An 11-inch, six-tine clam fork with sharp, rounded tines is also available for working with light soil.

Barn and manure forks: These round-tined forks are the equivalent of a scoop-shovel. They're excellent for moving light material such as leaves, partially decayed compost, manure and coarse straw. The prongs pierce the mass and hold it together so that you can move a large pile in one piece. Round-tined forks come with anywhere from three to ten tines; 4-to 6-tined models are used for most garden jobs. The more tines a fork has, the better it can pick up wet or heavy material. Heavy forks are available for picking up rocks and stones.

Mattocks: A modified pickaxe, the mattock is a double-bladed tool. One blade is shaped like a big, 31/2-inch-wide chisel, and serves to fracture hard soil and to perform other brute-force tasks in the soil. For the other blade you generally have a choice of a pencil-shaped pick end, which is good for chopping in rocky and clay soils, or an axe-shaped end, which can chop through the roots of such tough plants as bamboo or ivy.

Vegetable Rake ImagesWide Mattock


The rake is another apparently simple tool that comes in an astounding array of shapes and sizes. It is a key implement, but so common that most people grab the first one they see on sale at the right price. That's often a mistake. It's as important to match the right style of rake to the task at hand as it is to use the right wrench on a mechanical repair job.

Level head: With its head fastened directly to the handle, this rake is useful for removing small clods of earth, twigs and similar material. It has a flat side for leveling.

Bow design: A fond favorite with gardeners (so called because the rake head it attached to the handle by a bow-shaped piece of metal), the bow rake has a spring action that helps with the removal of small clods of earth and the like.

Floral: A small (usually about 8 inches wide), flat-headed rake that is useful in the garden for raking cultivated soil and for working small beds.

Multipurpose: A large tool, this has triangular-shaped teeth on both sides, useful for cultivating soil

Fruit Picking Tools

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