Choose Long-Handled Garden Tools for Easier Garden Care

Garden tools that combine long handles and well-made heads can make any gardening task easier, yet surprisingly few gardeners are aware they exist.

| June/July 2001

  • Long Handled Tools
    Left to right: Corona mattock/fork from A.M. Leonard; stirrup hoe and circle hoe from Peaceful Valley; and triangle hoe from Lady Gardener.
    Photo courtesy WILL SHELTON
  • 186-049-1
    Garden Tools of Maine - trowel and wire rake.
  • Garden Tools
    The Rogue hoe from Prohoe.
    Photo courtesyWILL SHELTON
  • Gardening Tools
    Traditional Japanese tools from Hida Tool Co. (left to right): Window hoe; V-shaped scraper and three-tined cultivator.
    Photo courtesy WILL SHELTON

  • Long Handled Tools
  • 186-049-1
  • Garden Tools
  • Gardening Tools

Whatever their shape or purpose, garden tools extend some part of your body and multiply the strength applied. For instance, if you squeeze your fingers together and cup your hand slightly, you have formed a spade to dig and scrape. Forge that spade from stone or metal and you can move much more dirt with the same effort. Put a handle on it, and you leverage that effort several fold. By this point, you have a trowel.

Unfortunately, the handles on most trowels — and on most gardening tools intended for one-handed use — are woefully short. You wind up doing the work instead of the tool doing it for you. I recently witnessed this inefficiency in person, watching a neighbor plant a bed of flower bulbs. For each bulb, he had to forcefully stab the trowel blade into the earth, then twist it several times to create a hole for the bulb. The poor guy was breaking a sweat planting flowers! A long-handled gardening tool would have made the job a snap.

One-handed gardening tools (as opposed to those, like a shovel, that require two hands to operate) fall into five categories: digging blades (trowels); cutting and scraping blades (hoes and weeders); forks and cultivators; rakes; and multipurpose tools that combine two or more functions. Sometimes the standard six- or seven-inch handle is sufficient for the job at hand, but a longer handle is often preferable. Long-handled tools range in length from about 10 to 24 inches; anything more than 32 inches long is difficult to use with one hand.

The Many Advantages of Long-Handled Tools

Power transference: A long handle acts as a lever, transferring your energy to the tool and multiplying the effect so you can do more work with less effort. This is not a new idea — the Native American digging stick is an application of this principle.

Balance: A longer handle counterbalances the weight of the tool head, making it less fatiguing to use, especially over long periods.

Blake Schreck_6
5/11/2010 7:11:22 AM

Great article. I love all the tools you have mentioned and would add another. DeWit Tools from Holland makes a wide range of garden tools which includes a series of tools that are mid-length handle called "P-Grip". They have hardwood handle that is a little longer than the typical hand tool and a "T" handle at the end making it a great one or two handed garden tool. Although somewhat new, the "P-Grip" tools really seem to be catching on with gardeners as the "T" handle at the end makes it easier to push or pull the tool through the soil. Once again, nice article, Blake Schreck Garden Tool Company



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