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Tools Used to Cultivate

Whether you have a small patio garden or a large farm, there are hundreds of cultivation tools available. But it’s essential to identify which of those tools are best suited to you and your garden. The basic tools for cultivation don’t have to be expensive, and the size of each tool may differ depending upon the dimension of your garden space and what plants you plan to grow.

Shovels, Spades, and Trowels

Shovels are among the most basic and essential gardening tools. Shovels have many different-shaped blades, depending on whether they are designed for digging holes or for moving around piles of dirt or mulch. Garden spades have flat blades are better suited for digging straight-sided holes and edging. Hand-held garden trowels, with their small pointed blades, are particularly useful for small digging tasks at ground level, such as transplanting seedlings.

Hoes and Mattocks

Hoes are tools used to create furrows in the garden for planting; to break up hard, clumpy soil; and to remove weeds. Hoes come in many different sizes and weights; they also come in a wide variety of blade shapes, including flat, angled, stirrup and looped-style blades. Select hoes based upon how they are to be used in the garden; a heavy hoe is useful for breaking up clods, while a light hoe is better for precise weeding.

Mattocks, variations of the pick axe, are used for breaking up heavy clumps of soil or tearing through roots. A pick mattock has a pointed end and a broad hoe blade used to break up large chunks of dirt and remove rocks. The axe-style blade on the head of a cutter mattock is ideal tool for chopping through root-laden soil near tree stumps.


Forks are particularly useful for turning soil, digging up root crops, and moving many garden materials. Pitch forks have thin tines placed closely together allowing you to pick up finer material such as compost or mulch. Garden and spading forks have thicker tines ideal for digging plant roots and breaking up heavy garden soil.

A broadfork is a special, two-handled gardening fork used in established garden soil (they are not recommended for breaking sod). It has long, heavy spikes that are pushed into the ground; when you push or pull on the handles, the spikes dig up the soil or root crops.

Cultivators and Power Tillers

Cultivators are tools that have a metal head with heavy straight or bent tines or, and in other cases, a head with sharp circulating metal blades. Those tools are used to break up and aerate the soil, mix garden materials such as dirt and compost, and release weed roots from the soil in a planting area. Power cultivators, such as gas-powered tillers, are more expensive, but more practical for breaking up large areas of deeply compacted garden soil; power tillers are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles.

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