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Discover the role of a spade, shovel and trowel garden tools?

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The spade is often referred to as the ‘workhouse’ of gardening tools. History has dated the spade as far back as Biblical times. Representation of this essential gardening tool can be seen on one of the oldest stained glass windows (C1176) in Canterbury Cathedral, which shows Adam digging into the ground with a pointed-tipped spade. The humble spade later gave way to other gardening tools such as the garden trowel, a small hand tool used for digging and moving small amounts of particulate material.

From spades to trowels and shovels, it can be confusing as to what the difference is between them. Do we need one of each to get jobs done efficiently and effectively? To make purchasing decision even more confusing, is the number of variations in design of each too. In this article we take a brief over view of the role of a spade, shovel and trowel and why the Grumpy Gardener has developed his own unique designs.

A spade is not a shovel!

A spade is a spade and a shovel is not a spade despite some using both words interchangeably. They are two different gardening tools with very specific uses.

The shovel is likened to a spade, however they are generally designed with a broad bottom to lift and move loose material. There are a number of types of shovels on the market. Shovels are designed specifically for their different uses and not just for in the garden. Examples are: snow shovels, coal shovel, fireplace shovel used to remove coal or debris, folding portable shovel used when camping and a grain shovel as used in the farming community.

There are also different types of shovels designed for use by landscapers and gardeners. There are square or pointed head shovels attached to a handle with a number of variations. A shovel used for cutting into hard ground has a sharp edge. Some types also have fluted sides to hold material in. Shovels aren’t designed for digging out soil.

A spade, on the other hand is designed specifically for digging and to loosen the ground.

Then we have the multi-purpose Wonder Shovel from The Grumpy Gardener designed to dig easily through hard, compact ground. The sharp inverted ‘V’ cutting blade and root-cutting rip saw teeth  makes light work of even the heaviest digging versus the humble spade. This shovel is effectively a dig and drag pitch fork combined with its toothed side used to rake out garden debris.

The D-shape at the hand of the long handle allows the user better control and stability when digging.

Garden hand trowel types and designs

Garden trowels are designed for planting out young plants into busy borders, digging in pots as well as for planting bulbs. They are a garden hand tool, unlike the spade and shovel which have long handles. Trowels are used for digging and moving small amounts of soil, gravel or mulch. A useful tool that has been around since the Neolithic age. Shoulder blades of large animals were first used as trowels. Then in 18th century there was a dramatic change in garden tools that had once been painstakingly handmade. With the Industrial Revolution goods started to be produced in mass quantities by machines in factories. Iron making meant the once bone or wooden trowels (and other gardening tools) took on a uniform design. Today, there are a number of changes to the shape and size of trowels but one thing they all have in common is that they are shaped like a scoop.

The Grumpy Gardeners serrated edge pointed Digamathing garden trowel is the perfect gardening tool for planting, cutting through roots, scraping, drawing seed furrows and digging out weeds. It is also handy for opening bags of compost, breaking up the compost and scooping it out to fill plant pots.

Customers have also said the Digamathing is great for removing well rooted plants grown in pots.

Another special feature is that is has measurements etched on the inside, taking all the guesswork out of planting bulbs and seeds. 

Gardeners are blessed with such a wide range of garden tools. Knowing what each can achieve in an allotment or garden will help you to decide what is essential.

Happy gardening!

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