According to research, gardening can help you stay in shape both mentally and physically. Gardening involves exercise in fresh air, which helps promote good health. Moreover, it can increase serotonin levels, reduce anxiety, and lower stress.
Even though gardeners worry about caring for, watering, and fertilizing their plants, doing so is easier with advice from gardening books and the right gardening tools. With all the digging, planting, potting, and weeding gardeners must do, they need the best garden trowel.
Trowels, which are small handheld shovels, are a must-have tool for both beginners and seasoned gardeners. If you’re new to gardening or need help finding the best garden trowel, this guide can help. The best garden trowel is made from quality materials and lasts through many years of digging holes, planting bulbs, transplanting, and more.
- BEST OVERALL: Edward Tools Garden Trowel – Heavy Duty Carbon Steel
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: HOMY Garden Tool Set, Stainless Steel
- BEST ERGONOMIC: Radius Garden 100 Ergonomic Aluminum Hand Trowel
- BEST FOR DIGGING: Garden Guru Super Strong Garden Trowel
How We Chose the Best Garden Trowels
When preparing our list of recommended garden trowels, we took note of selling points to look out for, as well as the pitfalls to avoid. To that end, we came up with a list of tools that cover the range of needs that we identified, namely comfort during use and their ability to resist bending.
Some users will be stronger than others, so we made sure to provide options for those who need a tool that puts up a good fight against tough roots or hard soil. We also made sure to include lightweight choices for easier jobs that don’t require a particularly heavy tool.
All of our top picks are made from quality materials such as stainless steel, aluminum, or carbon steel, which all offer varying degrees of strength and weight to suit a range of needs, and all of which have been crafted to resist rusting.
Our Top Picks
Choosing a trowel is the fun part. Based on the criteria described, this list features the top garden trowels in several categories. Individual needs and gardening styles dictate the type of trowel that’s best for you.
Edward Tools’ tough, bend-proof carbon steel trowel suits most everyday gardening chores. The base of the heavy-duty carbon steel blade is almost 4 inches wide. The trowel’s tip has a spade shape that fits into various pot sizes without creating a mess. The trowel blade features depth markers for consistent potting or transplanting to the same depth. An ergonomic rubber grip handle ensures comfortable use and additional leverage when digging or planting in heavier soils. Weighing 9.1 ounces, this sturdy trowel is built to last many years with proper care and storage.
- Thick metal for sturdy work
- Includes depth markers on the blade
- Good angle for increased soil leverage
Gardeners need a variety of hand tools for planting jobs that are too small for a garden fork or shovel. HOMY’s stainless steel gardening kit includes a hand trowel, transplant trowel, and cultivator. Stainless steel is not only strong, but it’s also easy to clean. An oversize, nonslip handle with a soft grip on the finger side can help reduce hand fatigue. The size of these tools and the handle grips suit all ages, even kids.
- Lightweight for long work periods
- Ideal for small garden jobs
- Three tools cover most tasks
- No great difference between the two trowels
The Radius Garden 100 ergonomic trowel features a helpful design for those who spend hours doing repetitive movements. Gardeners who have arthritis, limited strength, or other conditions can especially benefit from this trowel’s ergonomic design.
The ultra-lightweight aluminum blade and the thermoplastic handle combine for a low overall weight of about 7 ounces. For most tasks, especially repetitive ones, the ergonomic design’s natural radius grip enhances leverage and maneuverability when digging and helps minimize stress on the body.
- Innovative handle design
- Perfect for users with limited movement
- Strong and rust-resistant aluminum blade
- Tends to bend in harder soils
The thick stainless steel blade on this Garden Guru trowel is strong enough for digging even in rocky soil. The concave blade shape may minimize the number of scoops required to dig a hole. The trowel’s large and thick ergonomic handle has a thumb rest and finger grooves for a good grip. Weighing about 9 ounces, this trowel is heavier than some. This trowel also helps users plant, remove weeds, mix soil, and perform other basic gardening tasks.
- Great for tough soils
- Strong and bend resistant
- Concave blade for easier digging
For a solid garden trowel that comfortably handles most jobs, pick up the Edward Tools Garden Trowel. For users concerned about body aches after a day in the garden, consider the Radius Garden 100 Ergonomic Aluminum Hand Trowel, which has an ergonomic grip that’s suitable for users with arthritis and other types of hand pain.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Garden Trowel
Selecting the best garden trowel is easier when you follow a few helpful tips. The plethora of different shapes and material options can overwhelm even the most dedicated gardener. This list contains some considerations to keep in mind when choosing a quality garden trowel.
Trowel blades are made of stainless steel, carbon steel, or aluminum.
- Stainless steel blades often are made in a single piece, which makes the blade strong and more resistant to bending, breaking, or rusting.
- Carbon steel, one of the strongest materials, doesn’t rust and is virtually impossible to break.
- Aluminum is lighter, which makes it better suited to light tasks, such as potting, rather than digging into rocky ground.
Garden trowel handles are manufactured of wood, plastic, or fiberglass.
- Wood handles are sturdy, and if the wood is high quality and kept out of the elements, they can last a long time.
- Plastic handles comprise a plastic-layered metal blade or a separate plastic blade. Over time, plastic handles and parts can break off the trowel.
- Fiberglass handles are made with tough fiberglass resin. Unlike wood, this material doesn’t shrink or expand with changes in humidity.
The shape of the blade, which may be flat, curved, or scooped, helps gardeners complete various garden tasks. Blade styles include traditional, transplanting, potting, digging, and planting.
- Traditional blades have a rounded or slightly pointed end.
- Transplanting blades are longer and narrower so they can get deep enough to remove a plant and its roots.
- Potting blades, which have a pronounced concave curve, help transfer soil from one location to another.
- Digging blades generally have a wider trowel blade with a scoop shape for digging up plants or digging holes.
- Planting blades traditionally have a pointier tip for digging and planting in tighter places.
The best garden trowels incorporate a good length and decent grip, and they offer an ergonomic design to provide the best performance in every type of soil condition.
- Handle length affects how the tool feels in the hand and can contribute to or decrease pressure on the palm. Too short, and the handle causes pressure on the hand and less room to grip. A handle should be a minimum of 4 inches, but closer to 5.5 inches provides the best ergonomic benefits.
- The grip makes the trowel more comfortable and easier to hold. Handles with cylindrical or oval shapes instead of flat edges typically offer the best grip.
- Ergonomic handles help gardeners perform repetitive tasks easier and safer and help reduce muscle injury or strain. Ergonomic handles minimize flexing, extending, and radial deviation of the wrist (bending or twisting of the wrist toward the thumb) by creating a neutral wrist posture.
Some additional features affect garden trowel capabilities, including weight, handle holes, and sharpening.
- Trowel weight affects how gardeners use the tool. Look for a trowel that weighs 3 pounds or less, but optimally, a trowel should weigh less than 1 pound.
- Some trowel handles have holes at the bottom for storage that make it easy to hang the trowel on a hook in the garden shed or garage.
- The metal construction of most trowels makes it easy to sharpen, so gardeners can keep them in working order when the edges start to dull.
After purchasing the best garden trowel, you might have questions about how to use and care for it to ensure the tool lasts a long time. Keep reading to find some frequently asked questions and answers about trowels.
Q. What is a trowel for gardening?
A garden trowel is like a handheld shovel or spade that’s used for potting, planting, transplanting, weeding, digging, and more.
Q. What’s the difference between a trowel and a transplanter?
While very similar to a trowel, a transplanter has a longer, narrower blade for precise digging under plant roots for digging up and moving the plant to other locations.
Q. How do you use a garden trowel?
Trowels are used primarily for digging, such as when planting, transplanting, or weeding. Insert the tip of the blade into the soil of a garden bed or pot and scoop it out. For transplanting, the trowel needs to dig deeply enough to lift out the plant and its roots.
Q. How long does a garden trowel last?
Quality garden trowels can last a decade or longer with proper care. To ensure a longer life, clean, sanitize, and wipe the blades dry after each use. Also remember to store the trowel safely out of the elements.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series, including This Old House and Bob Vila’s Home Again, he popularized and became synonymous with “do it yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today in the expert yet accessible home advice at the heart of BobVila.com. Today, the Bob Vila editorial team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Kat Hodgins is a freelance writer for home repair, DIY home building projects, and green living. She previously worked at OP Media Group for three of their magazines, including Cottage (a former division of OP), writing DIY articles, such as building an outhouse and insulation installation. In her tenure as a content and copywriter, Kat has written for many companies, including Perk Canada, Nest Designs, Run Wild My Child, and This Is LD. Outside of her work as a writer, Kat is an insurance benefits professional, nature enthusiast, recreational climber, and chocolate connoisseur enjoying life in the Pacific Northwest.