What is a Garden Trowel and How Do You Use It

If we take the dicionary.com format, a trowel is a gardening tool with a “scooplike” blade used for picking up plants and turning the earth. But other than me wanting to use “scooplike” to describe more things, it doesn’t tell you much about garden trowels. So, what is a garden trowel? 

A gardening trowel is essentially a tiny shovel. It is designed for use with one hand and effectively works best for use with smaller plants. You can use it to dig small holes, weed, mix in fertilizer, or break up the soil.

In the rest of this article, we plan on going through various forms of the modern garden trowel. We will also provide more detail on how to use them.

The Three Basic Garden Trowels You Need To Know About 

In its base form, it is a garden tool that creates holes for planting. The best ones have a stainless steel blade and ergonomic handle for easy gripping. But not all trowel blades are created equal. 

The form of the blade dictates how a gardener can use the trowel. They typically come in three primary shapes: 

  • Traditional 
  • Weeding/Tight-Space
  • Potting Trowel (Transplanting Trowel)

Traditional Trowels

Traditional trowels have that “scooplike” structure we mentioned earlier. It’s solid as a full trowel that works for multiple applications. Digging, moving dirt, and translating are all appropriate for use with this blade. 

For a good starter trowel, consider Fiskars Ergo Garden Hand Trowel. If you prefer to feel the grip of a good trowel in your hand, check out local retailers. 

Weeding or Rockery Trowels

Weeding, rockery, or “tight-space” trowels are great for when you need to dig deep. The idea is to create some saw-like structure along the end for ripping action. Some people also use gardening forks with the same level of effectiveness. 

Codirom creates a three-piece set that includes both the fork and the thinner blade, making them all suitable for weeding. They also have a standard garden trowel in their collection. 

Potting (Transplant) Trowel

A potting trowel and transplant trowel have a similar design. That’s because both of these trowel-styles are somewhat thinner and have a pointed end. 

Some potting trowels are also known to have unique shapes. DeWit has a tulip trowel that’s perfect for getting in deep with managing your flower garden

Other Trowels

There are many forms of garden trowel you can pick; each has its unique shape for some specialized purchase. Honestly, a standard scoop will work well for most gardening beginners.

Unless you plan on doing a lot of translating, which is somewhat advanced for beginners, don’t buy something you don’t need. 

The Best Times You Can Effectively Use a Garden Trowel

While some of the tool specializations should help you define what to use a trowel for, there are also other uses that you should know.

Tilling the Earth in a Small Garden

Tilling the Earth in a Small Garden

If you have a large garden, you should consider purchasing a hoe. A hoe has a more extended handle and is for heavy-duty projects, so check out this article for some advice on hoes. But smaller gardens probably don’t need a hoe; a trowel will do just fine. 

In this case, “smaller” refers to having a small patch upfront or a few pots around the yard. If you have anything larger than a few square feet, get something more considerable.

Transplanting Flowers

Transplanting Flowers

When moving flowers from pot to garden (or vice versa), trowels are the best translating tool. Just be sure you get a broad blade that is most effective at picking up as much as possible. You’ll want to get as many of the plant roots as possible.

Digging Small Holes for Plants

Digging Small Holes for Plants

Trowels are perfect for creating small holes in which to transplant your plants. Just make sure they are deep enough and wide enough to fit your plant’s root cluster. 

Other Important Notes 

When using any gardening tool (trowel included), always clean them after every use. Scoops have the potential to contract infections. Those that do not receive regular cleaning have a higher potential for that. 

Also, despite many of them being rust-resistant, be sure to store them in a cool, dry area. Find a  drawer in your garage, and make sure that drawer doesn’t have any excess moisture. By doing so, you ensure your garden has good health.

Final Thoughts

A garden trowel is a tool with many different uses. You can dig holes, plant flowers, remove weeds, and do anything you would expect with a tiny shovel.

If you are looking for inspiration for what to do with your gardening trowel, check out this article on growing low shrubs for ground cover. Thanks for reading.

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