Gardening Tool Week: Evolution of the Trowel

Because it is so hot this week, practically everywhere, I've declared it to be Gardening Tool Week. It's just too hot to take pictures of plants, they just wouldn't be at their best. But tools, they look good in any weather.

So let Gardening Tool Week begin with this post about the Evolution of the Trowel, at least in my gardening life.

When I was little and wanted to do some digging in the garden, I would ask my mom for a spoon, and she would provide one for me. I don't think we ate with these later as I doubt the spoon ever made it back into the house. For my little hands, it was the perfect tool. (Kids, this was before the day when they made those cute little gardening tools for the little ones.)

Then when I started to actually garden and start really planting things, I used a trowel like this one. It's mass produced and cheap, and the problem is that it bends rather easily, especially in hard, clay soil. I would guess this cost me about 99 cents. I have not used this trowel for many years, but I keep it hanging in the garage, because it is hard for me to part with any gardening tools.

Later, I got a trowel like this one which is a little heavier, so it doesn't bend, but it was really just a bit too narrow for most planting jobs.

Fast forward quite a few years when I was "discovered" by the gardening industry as someone who would buy a tool or two through the mail and thus received tons of catalogs each year. I found this little beauty from Lee Valley Tool Supply. It's beautiful, isn't it, with it's stainless steel blade? And it never bends. I love this trowel, and for several years, I thought no trowel could replace it. If I laid it down somewhere in the garage and couldn't find it, I would almost panic looking for it, as there is no way I could garden without it!

But there is one more trowel I must tell you about...

Last fall, I bought this new trowel as a treat for myself. I could not resist it. It's hand-forged stainless steel, also from Lee Valley, and manufactured by a family business in the Netherlands. When I first got this trowel, I wasn't quite sure about it. The blade seemed a bit small, without much curve to it, and the handle was unfinished wood. But then I started to use it. I was won over. It is the perfect size for me. I love how the handle is aging, how it feels in my hand. The blade is just the right size for most jobs. This is the trowel for me. I still love my other stainless steel trowel, and there are some jobs I still need it for, but for most of my hand planting, I now use just this trowel. I would be lost and gardening would not be the same without it.

I always say, if you have a hobby that involves using tools, buy good tools to get the most enjoyment out of using them, and keep looking until you find your dream tool. It's out there, waiting for you. I've found my dream trowel, and so can you.

Check back soon for my next post: Specialty Trowels.


  1. Carol,
    I think I am stuck at the $2.99 trowel. But should one ever need a gift for someone, that would be a consideration. (I forgot the plant Sunday.)

  2. Carol,
    Spoons in our household have been known to do a double shift in the garden and the table!

    You can't beat the quality ingredients - wood and stainless steel. Worth the money.

  3. If you ever develop arthritis in your hands (as I have), I highly recommend trowels with padded handles. I couldn't garden without mine!

  4. I want to know about that fantastic tool you used on Saturday to help me do some trimming!


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