Top 10 Soil-Turning Tools

The best tools for working in the garden soil.

April 11, 2012

Loosening your garden’s soil can be a tiresome chore. Make it easier by using any one of these top-quality tools to help lighten the workload.

Sometimes called a U-bar digger, this tool has five 10-inch-long tines attached to a U-shaped bar. The tines loosen the soil as you push the tool into the earth and pull it out.


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Hoes come in dozens of shapes and sizes and serve many functions, from preparing and furrowing soil to weeding and cultivating it. Choose from the oscillating hoe, the warren hoe, or the collinear hoe, just to name a few.

This tool is a necessity when your soil is rocky or full of tree roots. Use the broad hoelike blade to pulverize small rocks and soil clods.

You’ll probably want one of each type—a steel garden rake and a steel or bamboo leaf rake. Garden rakes make short work of leveling out ground and creating raised beds, and leaf rakes are good for spreading lightweight mulches and smoothing the finely prepared soil on top of a seedbed.

A must-have soil-care tool with a rounded edge. Handy for scooping compost, cutting into hard ground, and digging soil out of planting holes.

A squared-off blade makes cutting through sod a snap. Also useful for digging new beds or borders and for edging.

Spading fork
Though specifically designed to cut into the soil with its four flat or slightly rounded tines, the spading fork can mix materials into the soil and harvest root crops as well.

Rotary tillers are unsurpassed for breaking new ground, breaking up large soil clumps, digging furrows, and mixing in soil amendments, compost, and cover crops. (But be careful not to overtill because it destroys soil structure.)

This miniature shovel is perfect for digging holes for smaller plants and bulbs and for removing unwanted weeds.

Your hands
Undoubtedly the most important tools you’ll use when working the soil. Protect your hands when using many of the tools listed above by wearing gardening gloves.

Read More: 5 Secrets to Successful Sowing.