A garden trowel is an indispensable tool for every gardener. All gardeners should have one trowel and it is best to have several for different purposes. The word trowel derives from the Latin word "truella", which means "small ladle". A trowel can serve as a ladle but that is really just one use for a trowel. Indeed, a trowel is the most used tool in the gardener’s toolbox so it is important to get a good one. Nothing is as aggravating as a poor quality trowel that bends when you try to dig. Additionally, a poorly designed handle tires the hand and causes blisters.
There is an incredible variety of hand trowels available to the modern gardener. The gardener will find wood handle trowels and plastic composite trowels. Also available are aluminum and stainless steel trowels. New ergonomic designs make gardening easier on the hands. They also make it more accessible to those with repetitive stress injury and arthritis. These new designs include gel filled handles and curved designs that are more natural for the hand to hold while using them.
Finding a good garden hand trowel from this vast selection of trowels is a bit confusing. So take your time and then choose the garden hand trowel best suited for your needs.
Ergonomic trowels use a new design to provide ergonomic ease of use. Some of the new ergonomic trowels help gardeners with arthritis continue their garden activities. These tools also help gardeners without those disorders to garden with less stress to their hands and wrists.
The ergonomic design of the trowel's handle allows the gardener to use a more natural position while working. A cushioned grip helps prevent blisters. These trowels are usually composed of an alloy consisting of cast aluminum and magnesium so they are light and strong. The blade’s design allows you to punch into the soil easily and lift a manageable load of soil. The curved shapes provide a more balanced transfer of energy from the hand and wrist to the trowel. This reduces hand fatigue common when using a hand garden trowel.
Gel Ergonomic Trowels
Gel ergonomic trowels provide a cushioned grip that prevent blisters and make working in the garden more fun. Gardeners abuse their hands a lot with all that digging, pruning and chopping. Any tool which helps reduce that abuse is a welcome addition to any gardener's tool chest. A gel grip trowel helps your hands by incorporating a cushioned, gel filled handle into the garden trowel's design.
This gel flexes and provides cushioning to hard-working fingers while digging. Some of these feature a serrated edge to open bags of fertilizer or other gardening material and to cut roots while digging. Others have stainless steel blades.
Stainless Steel Trowels
Stainless steel is an ideal component to use to make trowels. It is strong, durable and resists rust. They also polish to a high sheen so they are attractive as well. The shiny metal is easy to spot if the gardener misplaced the tool while pursuing other projects in the garden. Stainless steel trowels usually have wood handles. These trowels are prone to rusting over time.
The small, lightweight nursery trowel works well in tight spaces. The long handle of the nursery trowel allows you to reach into tight spots and the small, light blade makes it an ideal trowel for women to use.
Soil Scoop Trowels
A soil scoop is a specialized trowel that will certainly find many uses in and around the garden. The scoop is great for those who mix their own potting soil, as it will allow you to scoop vermiculate, peat moss and other soil components. The scoop will also work great to pot up plants and fill bedding packs for small transplants. Using the scoop, you can pick up potting soil from the bag or bin and place it where you want it. This help to fill in around roots under and around stems and leaves.
A soil scoop will work better than a trowel to fill in soil around newly transplanted shrubs and flowers in the garden. It can also scoop fertilizer and other bulk garden products into spreaders. Specialized bonsai soil scoops work great to fill soil in and around the small pots used in bonsai. Their unique shape fits in under the leaves and branches of these miniature trees better than a trowel. The right soil scoop fills a void left by the hand trowel. Standard trowels are great for digging and weeding. However, their shape is usually not suitable for scooping soil for potting and bonsai needs.
Aluminum trowels are strong, durable and lightweight. Aluminum resists corrosion, so if you accidentally leave your trowel out in the rain it will not rust. Since aluminum trowels are cast in one piece, the blade will not separate from the handle, as it will with some other types of trowels. Aluminum is a soft metal and it will not hold a sharp edge as a steel trowel will. Since it is not a strong as steel, aluminum garden trowels may bend easier if you are digging in heavy soil. The blades of an aluminum trowel may also chip if you strike a rock while digging. Aluminum trowels usually have a plastic grip on the handle to cushion your hand. Rubberized grips are easier on the hand than the polypropylene ones.
Wood Handle Trowels
The traditional handle for a garden trowel has been wood. Wood, usually a hardwood like ash or hickory, is the traditional choice for a handle for a trowel. Attractive, strong and durable many manufacturers still make trowels with wood handles. However, it tends to split, especially if you accidentally leave the trowel out in the weather.
Protect the trowel from rust with a coating of old motor oil or cooking oil when not in use. A good spray with aerosol cooking oil before using will make the trowel easier to clean when finished with it. Alternatively, fill a bucket with sand and saturate it with oil. Use this to dip your hand tools in to clean them and add a protective sheen of oil to help prevent rust. Sometimes it is helpful to file or grind the edges of steel trowels to a sharp edge to make it easier to cut into soil. Paint the handles or blades a bright orange or yellow to make them more visible. This makes it less likely to lose the trowel or leave it out in the weather.
The wide variety of trowels on the market can intimidate even the most seasoned gardener. Trowels come in different shapes, sizes, materials and colors. Picking the right type of trowel is easier if the gardener is aware of the many different types available and the uses of each.