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All About Shovels for your Garden!

A shovel is the most basic tool of gardening. With a shovel you can prepare a flower bed, divide a perennial, or even dig out a tree stump. When I'm shopping for a shovel I like to find the sturdiest and best made shovel I can find. While it might cost more at first, you will be far less likely to need to replace it, or to injure yourself while using it.

The classic garden shovel has a slightly rounded blade which is about eight inches across. The blade is usually just slightly sharp, making it ideal for digging holes and even cutting through roots. As this should be a very sturdy shovel it can also be used for leveraging out rocks as you dig holes. Note that if you try and leverage out too big a rock you can damage even a well made shovel, and so you might want to use a pry bar for anything much larger than a softball. The handle of a classic garden shovel can be long with a straight handle, or shorter with a "D" shaped grip.

A spade or edging shovel has a straight edge at the bottom, making it ideal for edging a flower bed or lawn. This is a less versatile tool than the classic shovel, as it really is better for edging than flat out digging.

A transplant shovel or poachers shovel is a narrow version of the classic shovel. As it disturbs less earth is it better at digging a hole in a bed without harming the plants surrounding it. This is also a perfect shovel to dig in ground that is rocky, and so I have often found myself using a transplant shovel as my primary shovel. Someday I may have a yard with loamy soil where I won't need a narrow blade to make for easier digging, but that never seems to happen.

ABOVE: A Garden Trowel

Finally, be sure to get a good sturdy trowel for transplanting smaller plants such as annuals. When I first started gardening I went through a few inexpensive trowels until I purchased one really nice one, which I still have. The bit that usually goes wrong on cheap trowels is where the blade is welded to the handle. I have had good luck with the solid cast aluminum trowels. Try to get one with a brightly colored handle handle, because trowels terribly easy to loose in the garden.

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