Garrett Wade Professional Gardener’s Digging Tool

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I’ve written a lot in the past about soil knives, because, well, they’re awesome. If you’re still gardening with a trowel or a dandelion fork, for goodness’ sake stop reading this post right now and go buy a soil knife. (Oh, wait – don’t stop reading yet, this is actually kind of relevant.)

Soil knives are great because they’re this lethal trowel-knife hybrid that makes weeding, digging and dividing so much easier. The thick edges and gentle curve of your trowel? Pah! I like my tools to have a hint of danger to them. I want to get things done! While I’ve tested quite a few brands over the years, none have been good enough to take the crown from my previous favorite until now. I had been using the Joshua Roth Hori Hori because I liked the stainless steel surface and the sharp, serrated edge on the blade.

However, as much as I loved that tool, there were some things about it that weren’t rocking my world. For starters, if one of my employees got it into their head to use the soil knife as a pry bar, the rivets on the handle came loose fairly easily, and while the stainless steel blade is strong, it would sometimes bend with abuse.

Then, the handle is comfortable-ish, but certainly not ergonomic enough to be a good choice for professionals and other passionate gardeners. offset blade

So when Garrett Wade offered to send me their Professional Gardener’s Digging Tool, I was intrigued. There was room for improvement over my existing tool, but I was suspicious looking at the product photo that I wouldn’t like that shield-like hand guard between the handle and the blade. I’m also a big fan of the smooth, rust-free surface of stainless steel. Would I like the steel alloy of the Garret Wade version?

Sometimes the transition from old tool to new can be a rocky one, especially with a staple like this, so I steeled myself to give the Pro Gardener’s Digging Tool a fair shake. I needn’t have worried.

From the moment I gripped the round, smooth handle and felt the difference in leverage with the offset blade, I had no desire to pick up my old hori hori. I feel disloyal saying that, but it’s true!

What I love about the Professional Gardener’s Digging Tool:

shield

Offset blade. With most soil knives the blade extends straight out from the handle. That’s a straightforward design, yet it misses the opportunity to help you in your digging by giving you leverage. This is one of the primary ways in which the Garrett Wade digging tool beats the competition. That offset blade feels like it’s doing some of the work for me, and after testing the two soil knives side-by-side I found that the Pro Gardener’s Digging Tool caused less wrist fatigue than weeding than my old one.

Tough alloy steel. While I prefer smooth, rust-free stainless steel for most of my tools, I have to admit that many of my stainless tools have bent or broken over time. Yet the tough alloy steel of this digging knife has proven resistant to even the worst types of misuse. I have used the Pro Gardener’s Digging Tool to pry up rocks, hammer in stakes, and to do all kinds of rough work that I would usually consider improper for a soil knife. I even left it out for two weeks, and no rust developed on the surface. Compare that to some of the cheaper brands of hori hori out there which rust as soon as you look at them funny, and the Pro Gardener’s Digging Tool starts to seem like one of the few tools that’s really up to the task of professional work.

Rounded handle. The handle is another area where this digging knife blows the competition away. It has a smooth, rounded grip that’s comfortable and makes it easy to control the knife. It’s perfectly formed to the natural grip of your hand and is comfortable even for long days of weeding. Plus, the entire handle is made of metal (with a plastic coating for comfort and visibility). Most soil knives have a wooden handle with just a small bar of metal running halfway up, and that handle area is usually the first spot to fail. So seeing that this tool doesn’t have the usual weak spot makes me think it’s going to stick around for the long haul, no matter how many times I use it as a pry bar. chickens helping

Hand guard. If you look at the photos, you’ll see that between the handle and the blade is a large area of metal that looks like a flat shield. Before trying out the tool, I thought the shield would get in my way and be an irritation. Boy was I wrong. The shield provides an excellent balance point, so I can move my grip upward and rest my fingers against the shield to give me extra stability. It’s also great when I’m digging around rock or concrete because it keeps me from knocking my knuckles.

Serrated blade really means it. You may have seen the cute little serrations on other hori horis and tittered to yourself about how sharp they looked. But you haven’t seen sharp yet. The teeth on this Pro Gardener’s Digging Tool are downright lethal to even the most congested root systems, making it great for digging, dividing, planting, or cutting sod. Between the teeth and the offset blade, it makes even tough jobs feel easy.

 

Of course, the true test of a tool comes when I let my employees at it. There are two main criteria here:

  • Do my employees break it?
  • And are they willing to give it back when I ask?

If the answer is no on both counts I consider a tool a resounding success, and the Pro Gardener’s Digging Tool passed with flying colors.

It took me two weeks from initially asking for the tool back before it was produced, and when it was finally handed back to me it was with the anxious question, “when do you think I can have it back?”.

Even our clients are impressed. In just a few weeks, two clients saw us using the tool, tested it out themselves, and bought their own even after being shown the lower budget models of soil knife. I think they feel as I do: once you’ve compared a good tool with a great tool and seen how much more work you can get done with a great one, spending a little more for a high quality product is absolutely worth it.

The Pro Gardener’s Digging Tool from Garrett Wade is $59 and is available from their website.

Comments

  1. Erin @ The Impatient Gardener says

    Ok, that thing looks downright dangerous, and I’m not worrying about my weeds when I say that. But you’ve never steered me wrong and the first hori hori I bought based on your recommendation is still my favorite too ever (along with my Bahco pruners) so if you say this is an improvement then I’m on board! I’m intrigued, that’s for sure.

  2. Erin @ The Impatient Gardener says

    Whoops I sort of failed to answer the question, didn’t I? If its anything like my other hori hori ill use it for weeding, planting, dividing, cutting twine, pruning, opening bags of mulch, picking stones and back scratching.

  3. says

    Wow!!! Just looking at this tool feels like it’s a must have. I would probably have more uses for it than I could possibly imagine over time but right off the top of my head I would say it will come in mighty handy for clearing out the tons of small roots I will encounter as I prepare the ground for my little herb farm. Thanks Gen!

  4. says

    As someone who has been known to use her PRUNERS to dig holes, I think I need this. You’ve done a great job describing all the ways this can be used, and I can see that I would use it for all those things, too. And if it’s as sharp as you say, I can use it to open bags of potting soil, too. It truly looks like an all-purpose tool! Gotta love that!

  5. Michael says

    I have scads of Monarda fistulosa that needs to be divided and transplanted elsewhere, as well as the tricky job of moving Eremurus from where it germinated to where I want it.

  6. says

    As I live in a rough neighborhood here in Houston such a tool would prove useful in weeding and cutting out those difficult weeds but also afford me a measure of self-protection.

  7. Jan Walton says

    Okay, I’m impressed! I struggle when trying to weed with my trowel. I would love that knife for weeding and dividing plants like my bearded irises.

  8. Suze says

    I work at a nursery and am forever hauling home “orphan” trees – overwintered too many times, root bound to within an inch of their leafy little lives, etc. My hori hori is usually good for sawing through circling roots, but sometimes even it won’t do a good job. This thing would be FANTASTIC!!! I hope I win, but if I don’t, I’m still going to buy one. :-)

  9. says

    I, too, love my hori hori, but like you said, they CAN get broken (usually by an employee, though, not me). What a great looking tool. I’d love to do a side by side comparison with my hori hori!

  10. Jim Crowell says

    I have two knife-edge Japanese trowels but they tend to bend when weeding. This looks like a compact, sturdier version to take on all the twisted rootballs from the wine raspberries encroaching the planting beds.

  11. Jodi Smolek says

    OMG, I need one of these! I am working on cleaning out an area that is overrun with roots. It is labor intensive and my poor carpel tunnel is screaming at me to stop. This tool looks like it would make the job a whole lot easier.

  12. CindyP says

    Garden knives are my favorite. My first was an old army surplus thing that rusted terribly. I was always sanding and oiling it. Then I bought one by Fiscars with a big padded grip. I’ve been very happy with it, but the one you are showing looks great. It’s bigger and I like the offset handle. I think this would be a very useful tool for dividing perennials. I divide a LOT because they go to my Master Gardener plant sale every spring. Winning this knife could make that chore a lot easier.

  13. Wes says

    I’ve seen these on a couple of websites but found them price prohibitive without a real-world review. Glad to see that they meet a demanding professional’s criteria for a “good tool”. Looks like the perfect piece to divide my monsterous 6 year old daylilies. (not started as little 2-3 fan divisions either, local farm sells small clumps—my favorite place to visit and shop!)

    Thanks for the review and being reminded that I still need to order one of those rubber rakes!

  14. Coco Thorpe says

    Oh, please please please, I so need one of these! I don’t have a soil knife and my garden is starting to show it. It looks like an awesome tool.

  15. ChristyMN says

    This looks awesome! I can think of a million garden uses for it – starting with dividing some tough perennials.

  16. Carol Friis says

    Planting fall bulbs, separating and dividing perennials, digging through our heavy clay. What wouldn’t I use it for? Can’t think of anything right now. Looks like a great tool for what I need right now.

  17. says

    This sounds like a great tool! I’m currently using a cheap hori hori that I use for weeding and prying lots and lots of rocks out of my soil whenever I plant. So that’s probably what I would be using a new one for as well. I also always come in after a day of gardening with aching wrists and hands, so the ergonomic design of the handle will be most welcome.

  18. Cathy McCollum says

    I would give the knife to the young man who helps me with my garden. He’s fresh out of landscaping school, and poor as a mouse. But he’s a good worker!

  19. Nancy says

    My 84 year old mother still works in her garden. I would love to give her this tool to make things a bit easier for her.

    Thanks!

  20. says

    I’ve been looking for a good soil knife for a couple of years and this one looks perfect. I’m the Administrator of a non-profit dahlia garden in Michigan, and I plan to use it for weeding, dividing transplants, chopping stalks, opening bags, cutting sod – I’m sure that’s just a sampling of the uses it’ll be put to. Thank you for the excellent review!

  21. Rick says

    I’ve used a similar one and love it. It does good for cutting through tough roots. This one looks as if it would do the job even better.

  22. Amanda says

    If I win, I will throw away Humboldt’s ugliest garden trowel. Its sheet metal blade, a blend of white paint and rust, bends at the first hint of trouble, and its handle is plastic that likewise couldn’t stand up to the elements; it used to be pink, maybe.

  23. Fred says

    One small layer down from the patchy sod I’ve been pulling up to replace with a raised bed is a network of roots from the crabapple twenty feet away, the spruce a little farther and the honeylocust even farther. Those roots need serration!

  24. says

    I would use it for a lot of things! I divide iris and strawberries. I dig and weed most anything. I have trowels, but not a “soil knife” which I actually had not heard of before. This past spring I planted my very first real vegetable garden and I am learning as I go along. “Real” as in big and permanent.

  25. says

    I am excited to test this new product because one should never be complacent about the methods or tools we use in our gardens. The world is changing, technology is changing, and when these changes filters down to the gardening world we should be eager to embrace them. In fact, I even have a US mailing address to help me benefit from American innovation.

  26. Maxus says

    pretty much ill be using this for weeding my large prickly milkweed which are a pain in the butt to work with. I might use this to help look for worms for may chickens because they go crazy for them. Ill also use it for turning my compost soil because its not molding or anything. I really want to win this awesome tool!

  27. says

    Hori-Hori Hooray !!! I’m throwing in the trowel. The soil knife would be invaluable to this aging gardener, whose strength is going to pot, but who still thrills in dividing plants for younger gardeners.

  28. says

    That thing looks awesome. What a great idea. I may buy one anyway, especially for dividing plants and breaking out the can of whoop-axx on the weeds.

  29. Suzi Theiss says

    I would use a soil knive to help cut through all the weed cloth that the previous owner installed everywhere in the yard. It is even a couple inches down in the raised vegetable garden.

  30. Carol E says

    I’ve never used a garden knife so why not start with the top of the line! I would use it to divide iris & peony (which I’ve never done either), transplant perennials, and frighten the moles dining under the raised beds. Think it will work on whitefly, too?
    ;-)

  31. rich/retired carpenter says

    Having been a pro finish carpenter, where quality tools are necessary to get the job done,
    I’m amazed of the lack of quality available in gardening tools. I was especially interested when you mentioned the lack of bending. That should be basic. Thanks!

  32. Steve Johnson says

    My wife and i just moved into what we hope to be our retirement home. lots of room for gardens. my wife has some serious nerve damage to her right hand (surgery gone wrong) and she needs all the help she can get. this tool looks like it would be easier for her to use in her ongoing battle with weeds and digging hard dirt. thanks for the good review.
    Steve

  33. sherry pritchett says

    My gardening will only be as good as the tools I use. Right now, a bent knife with weak wrists combination is not good. I have a lot of orchids to divide and this tool would be very helpful. Thank you for making this offer.

  34. Shel Sanders says

    I do the weeding and separating. Conventional tools are too specialized or don’t perform we’ll. hence I use an old kitchen knife. Works well for light tasks but isn’t very good for splitting. So if your claims are true, I need the Garrett Wade tool.

  35. M. Villasin says

    Job one is to keep some really nasty weeds in check, then eventually getting around to setting up and maintaining a raised vegetable and herb garden. This bad boy looks like it can do it all.

  36. says

    I have used several garden knife/trowels over the years, but I’ve never seen one quite like this – It looks GREAT! I’ll be looking for this tool whether I win the giveaway or not.

  37. ED OLLER says

    I retired and have a hobby ,metal detecting this tool would be the perfect tool to dig a plug. and finding that gold ring would make my hobby even better. no different then planting blubs,,,,well maybe a little different

    Ed

  38. roger meanor says

    would like to win the tool as i have seen it in treasure search magazines. sure would be nice to have it to us when i use my metal detector as i need something that is easy to use and DOES the job efficiently. that is why i should be selected, and because i an an old fart that doesn’t have available funds to get for myself anymore.

  39. thepricklypinecone says

    Come the spring we are going to be planting a whole new section of garden and this will come in handy for digging and dividing the plants we purchase.

  40. Victor Chernobieff says

    If I win this garden trowel it would be an excellent Addison to my garden tools I especially like the serrated edge and the long narrow blade with the heavy duty handle.

  41. L. Anderson says

    Impressive tool. Looks like the perfect implement to excavate an overgrown planter full of Ixia and Spider Lilies. I look forward to unsnarling these beauties and sharing them with Northern California gardening friends.

  42. Grizzly Amador says

    Better than a hori hori? Come on! I’d try this one out to root out some of my yucca plants and maybe take out that mesquite bush I’ve been admiring but the wife doesn’t like cos that’s where she wants her calla lilies….and I thought I was the only one who used mine as a back scratcher!

  43. Keith Maw says

    Everything in the garden from weeding to transplanting to hardscape maintenance. I’m a long-time hori user, both hardened steel then stainless conventional and now a Fiskars alloy garden knife. They’ve all had their pluses and drawbacks. The GW Professional Gardener’s Digging Tool looks like it could match the best features of each of these tools. Can’t wait for my prize to arrive!

  44. says

    And God fashioned a man from the dust and blows the breath of life into his nostrils, then plants the Garden of Eden and causes to grow the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the Tree of life. God sets the man in the garden “to work it and watch over it,” permitting him to eat from all the trees in the garden except the Tree of Knowledge, “for on the day you eat of it you shall surely die.”

    Well, I’m trying my darndest to re-create that Garden of Eden …….. and if I had myself a Garrett Wade Professional Gardener’s Digging Tool …….. I could plant, weed and and divide and grow such a variety of fruit and vegetable …….. that I wouldn’t have to bother that Big Tree. And as far as that knowledge thing ……. having a Digging Tool in hand would be far more useful and productive than sitting around eating the fruit and waiting for the smarts to kick in. I’d also avoid all the trouble of being evicted and ruckus with my family!

  45. ChrisK says

    This looks like the perfect tool for weeding, digging up roots, and planting in my new garden. This year was a challenge but the right tool will help greatly.

  46. says

    My use for the tool would be to prepare a garden spot for a herbal variety in my backyard where I have been planning a herbal garden for years now. This could be the chance I need to actually start the garden. At 73 years of age, I still have a few gardens left in me!!!

  47. says

    I’ve always wanted a good garden knife. My wife got me a great knife to use in the garden several years ago, but it’s more of a “I could kill a bear with this” type of survival knife than a “stick it in the ground” type of knife.

    I’d use it to help control and divide those bamboos that have thin rhizomes, and I’ve got lots of those!

  48. says

    This thing looks great! We have soil with a lot if clay in it, so when it dries it is absolutely brutal to break up the clods without something like this. Oh, and, um, I have a teenager…;-P

  49. April says

    That thing looks awesome! I’ll bet I could get my boys to do some weeding with a tool that looks like it was made to kill orcs :) Thanks for the giveaway and great, detailed review.

  50. says

    I have a hori hori I use for dividing, planting, all sorts of gardening chores but the hand feel isn’t quite right and it’s not as tough as I’d like, too much bend to the blade. I’d love to try something tougher with a better hand fit.

  51. Eileen Beck says

    I’d use that to divide some plants and while I’m dividing, I’d feel very safe from the wildlife which occasionally wander into our yard.

  52. Stephen Hackett says

    That tool looks formidably useful. What I need to know is whether it’s available over here in England…

  53. says

    Beyond my first thought of what I would use this tool for in which images of playing the part of Rambo and saving missionary workers from some third world dictator, I came back down to reality and will use this versatile tool for the purpose in which it was intended….making my vegetable gardening tasks much easier. Having a multi tool like this handy will go a long way from weeding and digging to planting and pruning.

  54. Ken says

    I have been using old knives from the kitchen but they do lack the heft of this guy. And dirt does a job on any knife edge. Try cutting through Zoysia grass!

  55. says

    My vegetable garden is atop a very old barnyard site and EVERYTHING grows big and strong. This tool will undoubtedly save my old muscles and joints through weeding and digging. Thanks ahead of time….I’m sure you’ll draw me!!!

  56. Stacey says

    We are rebuilding our deck and I will be moving and dividing lots of mature hostas. Would love to try your tool out for this project!!!!

  57. Darlene says

    Would use this tool mostly for weeding and dividing. Looks awesome but really would have to be special to replace my old standby which I have used for years. Have given orders that it gets buried with me. Would love to try it!

  58. sharry dunn says

    I will use this tool to dig out the pesty persistent weeds growing in the cracks along the driveway and front of house, never get rid of them with other tools. This is an awesome looking tool that is quality well built to last and last and last. Look forward to using it for weeding and planting and slicing tough roots as well.

  59. Christine Owen says

    Wow, I’ve never seen a tool like that! I’d like to use that on some dandelions and other weeds. I like how your chickens seem to approve also!

  60. Cheryl Maplestone says

    if I had it a few days ago I could have done some awesome pumpkin carving; but would love to have one for the more prosaic elements of gardening.

  61. L. Schroeder says

    I’ve never heard of a soil knife before but it looks like it could come in handy, if I don’t end up hurting myself with it.

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