Hand pruners, saws and loppers are all tools related to the pruning of plants, and I carry 2 of the 3 on me as I work a garden…the pruners in their sheath on my belt or clipped to my pants pocket, the folding saw in a back pocket. The other tool I always carry is my digging tool.
In these posts on garden tools, I suppose the most common theme is my strong belief in paying a little extra to get good quality tools. The digging tool is no exception. Over the years I’ve gone through many lesser quality hand trowels, breaking or bending the cutting blade on all of them but one. That one unbroken hand-digging tool is my Lesche digging knife.
I believe the Lesche was developed for geologists and other rock-hounds. It is made of strong steel blade with one side serrated. The steel blade bends at 90 degrees at the top to create a shield that protects the hand. The handle is solidly welded to the shield, so it’s unlikely to ever break. It feels solid and comfortable, and the angle and position of the tool allows great force to be naturally applied to the tip of the shovel/knife. This is such a solid piece of equipment, you can feel its power in your hand. The sheath it sits in has a loop that fits on your belt, so it rides comfortably when not in use, and is completely accessible when needed. While it’s a great digging tool, I also use it to scrape mulch out of the way when planting or doing irrigation repair and it works well to cut sod. And mine is extra special…the cap at the end of the handle screws off revealing a secret compartment! J I think I paid $5 extra for that; silly, but fun. A quick look online and I found the Lesche for $35.10 with the sheath.
The one part of the Lesche digging tool that DID break down, after about 5 years of nearly daily wear and use, is the sheath. Eventually, after pulling the knife in and out countless times, I cut through the side of it, and it needs to be replaced. After putting it off for months, I finally hopped on-line and easily found a site where I could order just the sheath…delivered for $12.25.
There are other digging tools that I’ve used. A large group of such tools are called “hori-hori”, which is Japanese for “dig-dig”. I used a couple of them for a few years, and liked them. But they had wood handles which eventually dried and cracked. I looked on-line and found some for as little as $10 or $15, but am skeptical if they’ll last for more than 3-5 years of use. Maybe if the wood handle were to be regularly oiled they would, but that’s the sort of thing I tend to not do.
Just avoid the common pot-metal or thin-steel varieties of digging trowels that are so frequently found in nurseries and home-improvement stores. The pot-metal breaks easily and the thin steel bends in our rocky and hard soils, rendering them both almost useless.