Welcome back to Tuesday Tools & Tips, our bi-weekly series about ergonomic garden tools and tips for using them. The goal is to make gardening easier on our bodies so we can do it well into our aging years.
This week we're discussing the floral shovel. A floral shovel has a long wooden handle like your standard shovel, but the blade is smaller than a standard size. The lighter weight and smaller blade can be a real back saver for gardeners as it self-limits the load size that can be lifted. Using a shovel with a long handle enables us to use our larger leg muscles to dig through clay soil or fibrous roots, which is far safer and more efficient than trying to use a hand spade with the upper body strength that requires.
Another real plus is that the smaller floral shovel is highly maneuverable in tight garden spaces, and can be used in containers and raised beds. Even with few physical restrictions, I use my floral shovel for about 90% of my garden digging. I love that it’s easy to carry around the yard, and the long handle has great leverage and alleviates bending. You’ll notice this repeatedly in my tips: tools labeled ergonomic or for specific limitations almost always prevent injuries, and make work more enjoyable for the able-bodied, too.
Floral shovels retail for about $15, and are available at West Seattle hardware stores.
Vivian Mizuta is a native Puget Sounder who grew up with gardening parents. She’s been an occupational therapist and Skagit County master gardener, and loves to try any tool or technique that will make gardening pleasant and easier. She and her husband, along with their Havanese dog Ghilli, have been busy renovating their 1960s garden in West Seattle.