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Spades may do all the heavy lifting and forks possess superior prodding and poking capabilities, but for potting, planting, digging and weeding you can’t beat a trowel.
They come in various guises, from narrow-bladed ones suitable for planting bulbs through to long handled quasi-spades designed to take the strain during extended gardening sessions so it’s worth thinking about your intended use before spending your hard earned money.
A trowel should give you years of loyal service providing you look after it, so don’t just cast it absentmindedly into the depths of your shed once you’ve finished your day’s graft.
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Scrub off any muck and wipe it clean with a cloth to prevent rust before putting it to bed in your shed.
Trowels with wooden handles will also benefit from a rub down with a decent protecting oil. Boiled linseed oil is the one to go for – apply a generous amount of oil to a rag and work it into the handle, taking care to wipe off any excess.
We’ve got to grips with some of the best trowels on the market – here’s eight that we really dig…
Dewit Tulip Shaped Trowel
This fearsome looking, tulip-shaped tool is a kind of fork/trowel hybrid that has a zig-zag cutting edge built for slicing, whilst the large curved blade provides plenty of capacity for scooping soil.
The ergonomic ash handle feels reassuringly solid and sits atop a boron steel stem and head, burnished with a handsome black patina.
It’s almost a shame to get this trowel dirty, but it really is devastatingly effective in action and will rip into root-ridden ground like a hot knife through butter.
This swish Japanese tool is more suited to delicate delving rather than sustained, soil-shifting donkey work, but for weeding, slicing and scooping tasks you’ll wonder how you ever coped without one.
Niwaki’s hori hori handle is constructed from beech wood that encases a 17cm bevelled carbon steel blade, and whilst it may not be the strongest tool in your allotment shed, it more than makes up for it in versatility.
For your money you’ll also get a smart canvas holder to dangle off your belt and to keep it ready for action.
Corona eGrip Transplanter
Whilst the name could be considered rather unfortunate due to the current global predicament, the Corona eGrip transplanter is one of the comfiest trowels we’ve had the pleasure to grapple with.
The handle features a finger guard and ergonomic ComfortGEL® grip to help prevent blisters during the most frantic of digging sessions.
Its stainless steel blade is tough enough for weed-work, but potting up duties is where this trowel really excels; a depth-gauge stamped on the blade helps with precise planting, whilst its serrated edge is handy for opening bags of compost.
Roughneck Round Point Micro Shovel
The removal of old, established shrubs can be quite labour intensive.
For the times when you don’t wish to risk snapping your favourite planting trowel and there’s not enough room to swing a spade, this robust micro-shovel will see you right.
Hailing from Roughneck’s range of heavy duty digging implements, this stumpy, steel and fibreglass constructed tool features a comfortable D-shaped handle and large, pointed digging head.
It feels pretty invincible in use, and at a shade under a tenner, it’s a bargain too.
Kent & Stowe Long Handled Trowel
Rummaging around in garden borders can be back-breaking work so for a spot of respite you may wish to reach for a lofty, long handled trowel such as this.
Kent & Stowes range of garden implements are based on drawings from the 1800’s which, for this tool, means a tapered 125cm long ash handle atop an elegantly curved, stainless steel head.
It’s great for socially distanced digging sessions and comes with a suitably lengthy 15 year guarantee for added peace of mind.
Sneeboer Transplanting Trowel
Dutch tool kings Sneeboer make fantastic hand-forged tools and have a large range of trowels from which to choose.
One of our favorites of theirs is the transplanting tool – a wide, shield-shaped trowel with a sculpted ash handle.
It’s ideal for digging seed trenches, with a super-sharp pointed blade helping it glide easily into hard-packed ground.
It’s not cheap by any stretch, but quality and craftsmanship comes at a price and this tool will last you a lifetime.
You’ll struggle to find a lighter trowel than this sleek black offering from Fiskars.
It’s constructed from a fibreglass reinforced plastic which results in a surprisingly tough tool for digging and planting – in fact you half expect it to snap in two the first time you stab it soil-wards.
It sports a handy hole in the handle for easy stowing in a shed, but it’s metal-free construction means you can leave it lying around in the garden if you like as there’s no fear of it rusting.