Selecting a Garden Shovel

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Your garden can only look as good as you make it look. The upkeep, whether daily, weekly or seasonal is what makes your garden look its best. One way to assist you in making it look its best is by choosing the proper gardening tools. A garden shovel is one such tool you will need for your maintenance and other yard tasks.

Depending on what exactly your needs are determines exactly what kind of gardening shovel you should get. Do you have many bulbs that need to be dug up every year? Do you have only a small area to work in? How often do you use a shovel for large holes? These questions are all things to keep in mind when you head to the garden center looking to buy a shovel.

Size is Important 

Gardening shovels come in all sizes. A long handled shovel offer more leverage when digging big holes. The leverage will aid in root cutting and bringing up chunks of earth. Short handles are for up close work. If you are digging up bulbs which are only planted shallow, you do not need the leverage of a long handle. Short handles also give you more control in small areas or with delicate plants.

If you dig big holes often, a long handled, scooped shovel is what you need. The scoop is what will hold and pull the dirt out of the ground. A bigger scoop will mean more dirt will come out at one time, making the chore go quicker. A small scoop will only hold little amounts of dirt and may take twice as long to complete a big job.

Garden shovels with smaller scoops are ideal for those people who do a lot of transporting. If you have several plants which need separating annually, like irises, gladiolas or lilies, a small scoop will not harm nearby plants when you dig them up. Small scoops can get in and around the roots better, leaving neighboring bushes, plants or flowers that you do not want dug up.

A gardening shovel will also have a pointed blade which is sharp. The tip is pointed to cut through any roots or other organic material while you are digging a hole. The sharp edge also goes further in to the dirt faster, making your digging a quicker labor. It is important that the shovel remain sharp. A dull shovel tip is just the same as a dull knife tip. It won’t cut. The shovel cannot pierce through the sod, dirt or material very well, wasting your time and efforts in digging. A hardware store or tool sharpening service will restore the edge to your shovel.

A lip at the top of you shovel makes your job easier too. The lip should be a flat piece at the top of the scoop where your foot can aid in the dig and scoop process. It’s also a good place for a footrest when you need to catch a quick breath. It doesn’t have to be big, but flat so it won’t cut into your shoes or work boots.

Some wood handles will also have a plastic grip handle at the top of the shovel. Depending on what type of work you intend to do, this will help you with leverage and scooping. For such chores as digging dirt and holes, it may get in the way.

Lightweight Isn’t Better 

The heavier the shovel is, the sturdier the blade and the handle are. Cheap shovels will use lightweight or combination wood pieces to form the handle, which may crack or break with heavy use. A good hardwood handle will not splinter or crack very easily, but bend slightly with use. The scoop portion should be thick and made of sturdy steel. A thin scoop made with softer or a combination of materials can break or crack during heavy digging or even lifting roots or rocks.

Other Digging Tools 

There are different terms that some people confuse with shovels. There is also a garden spade, which is similar, but has a different purpose. The garden spade has a flat surface that goes right up to the handle. The spade isn’t meant to dig holes, but to work the dirt. It is used to loosen the dirt in small areas and work it up for planting after you’ve dug a hole. A spade is an excellent choice if you have a lot of edging to do.

A hand trowel is very small. Hand trowels dig small holes in up close areas. It will have a pointed blade and scoop, but the handle is only six to ten inches long. The hand trowel is good for container gardens and digging around the base of the plant. The compact size gives you more control when working.

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