Photo of Anne Marie Van Nest

Anne Marie Van Nest

Professional Gardening Expert

Best Garden Trowels & Best Hand Trowels

Gardener’s know when they have found their ideal trowel. It’s a similar feeling to that of a violinist stroking a Stradivarius. It just feels “right”, like it belongs in only your hands. A great trowel is evenly balanced (blade with the handle) and sits nicely so that the weight of it doesn’t feel heavy. A smaller blade will often have a smaller handle and be lighter weight for smaller hands. The handle has to feel comfortable and be well-formed to fit your hand (either turned hardwood or synthetic plastic material) or else nasty blisters will put a halt to work in the garden. Holding a well-designed and crafted trowel in hand should be an energizing feeling.

When picking a great trowel, blade materials affect the amount of after work clean up and frequency of sharpening. Are they smooth, rust-proof and hold their edge?

Does the trowel have shaped wooden handles (lacquered for protection from water) or a cushiony gel-filled, spongy, contoured plastic grip in a bright color?

Can you safely stick the trowel handle into your back pocket while doing other jobs in the garden? Versatile trowels can be used in a dagger motion for bulb or transplant planting or in a scooping motion for soil moving. Then many trowels can be flipped over and the end used to tamp the soil.

The trowel blade size should also be matched to the type of gardening job. Choose a narrower trowel (with depth markings) for bulb and transplant planting or a larger blade for big digging jobs or planting perennials. Pick a serrated edged trowel for weeding and opening fertilizer bags. Hmmm, a gardener needs more than one trowel? You bet.

Many new trowels are ergonomically designed to keep the hand in a comfortable neutral position to ease digging strain on wrists, arms and hands. Some handles are angled to change accommodate a less stressing angle, other trowels have long angled tangs (necks) between the blade and handle to also address the wrist angle. This tang clearance also saves knuckles from being scraped!

Lastly, many wooden handled trowels have metal ferrules on the handle. What’s a ferrule? It is from the Latin meaning “small iron bracelet”. This term is used to describe the circular clamp holding together fibers, wires or posts (like the metal ring at the end of a pencil to hold the eraser in place). For garden trowels, it is the metal ring securing the wooden handle to the metal tang. Often stainless or brass, good ferrules are deeply buried into the handle and glued into place.

The best garden trowels make all the difference when you're working the soil. The best hand trowels have a balance between handle and blade, which is rust-proof and holds an edge.

Best Garden Trowels by Anne Marie Van Nest

The Best You Can Get

  • Sneeboer Trowels

    Anne says: * Ultimate Flowerbed Trowel (GGT-477)
    * Short Fat Trowel (GGT-380)
    * Long Thin Trowel (GGT-385) (4014C)
    * The Great Dixter Trowel (4018)
    * Transplanting Trowel (4007C)
    * American Trowel (4022C)

    Hand-forged stainless steel and wood garden tools.

    Each hand tool is unique and an instant family heirloom to pass along to future gardeners. Exceptionally designed for balance, comfort, and durability.

    Sharpened trowel edge and tip can easily cut through stubborn roots and soil clods.

    Sneeboer also has novel one-sided, right- or left-handed, potting trowels for the potting bench to ensure that soil goes into the pot and not all around it.

    • Hand-forged stainless steel
    • Shaped, polished, and sharpened by hand
    • Cherry, ash, or beech handle
    • An instant heirloom
  • Burgon & Ball Trowels

    Anne says: * Transplant Trowel (GTH/STPM)
    * Hand Trowel (GTH/SHTM)
    * Stainless Hand Trowel with Long Wooden Handle (GTH/SHTMH)

    Quality stainless steel blade with long angled tang (neck) for better ergonomic work.

    Stainless steel ferrules.

    Wide blade for maximum soil load and efficient digging.

    Graduated markings to determine digging depth.

    • High quality stainless steel
    • Tapered hardwood handle
    • Leather hanging thong
    • Long angled tang (neck)
  • Spear and Jackson Trowels

    Anne says: * Traditional Tanged Trowel (5030TR-carbon)
    * Neverbend Stainless Steel Tanged Trowel (3010TR)
    * Select Stainless Steel Trowel (3058EL)
    * E-series Hand Trowel (7309HT)

    High carbon steel or polished stainless steel blade for great rust resistance and minimal soil sticking.

    Long, angled tang for good knuckle clearance when planting.

    Brass or stainless steel ferrule for extra wood handle strength.

    Soft textured, rubberized handle with cushioned grip.

    Weatherproof ash hardwood handle protected with a clear lacquer.

    • Weatherproof hardwood or soft cushion handle
    • Brass or stainless steel ferrule for extra strength
    • Angled tang for ease of use
    • High carbon steel or polished stainless steel blade
  • Vigoro - (Ergo Gel Grip)

    Anne says: Vigoro Ergo Gel Grip Hand Trowel (652-717)
    Ergo Gel Grip Hand Transplanter (924-190)
    Ames True Temper Ergo Gel Grip Hand Trowel (2403100)
    Ergo Grip Hand Transplanter (2403200)
    (same design with different branding)

    Soft gel hand inserts large enough to have a soothing impact. Strategically located at finger tips and palm pressure points. Comfort and durability.

    Contoured ergonomic handle with tamping end. Also with a textured and indented thumb notch.

    Heavy duty stainless steel blade. Transplanter with depth markings for easier bulb planting.

    • Soft gel handle inserts
    • Large handle hole to hang up easily
    • Transplanter has depth markings on the blade
    • Stainless steel blade
  • Fiskars Trowels - (Big Grip)

    Anne says: Big Grip Trowel (7073)
    Big Grip Transplanter (7074)

    Coated metal blade that resists rusting for easier clean up. Large oversize blade for large soil moving trowel tasks.

    Soft, contoured, molded handle. Large handle hole for garage or garden shed pegboard hanging. Orange accent color on handle makes this trowel easier to spot in the garden.

    Serrated edge on one side of the transplanter blade useful for tough, stubborn root removal. Graduations marks on the transplanter blade useful for bulb planting.

    • Large oversize blade
    • Large, contoured, molded grip
    • Coated metal blade
    • Cast aluminum blade

You will be happy with any of these

  • Oxo Trowels - (Good Grips Gel-e)

    Anne says: Good Grips Gel-e Trowel (16075)
    Oxo Good Grips Gel-e Transplanting Trowel (16076)

    Cushy gel material in sides of handle near end - cushions palm of large hands.

    Seriously serrated edges on both sides of the trowel for stubborn roots, weeds, or opening fertilizer bags.

    Graduated markings on blade. Good length and size to finishing the job faster provide leverage for tough digging jobs.

    Stainless steel construction for non-bending durability.

    Contoured, no-slip handle.

    • Cushy gel insert in the sides of the handle near base
    • Graduated markings on blade
    • Contoured no-slip grip
    • Stainless steel material
  • Corona Trowels - (Clipper Comfort)

    Anne says: Clipper Comfort Trowel (30101)
    Clipper Comfort Transplanter (30201)

    Soft, cushy textured grip won’t slip in muddy hands. Minimal cleanup of handle and blade - just a quick wipe clean.

    One piece polished aluminum alloy won’t bend, rust, or break.

    High visibility handle for easy retrieving in the garden.

    Easy to transport, just stick the handle in your back pocket. No worries about slicing damage either.

    • One piece polished aluminum alloy
    • Light weight
    • Cushioned grip
    • Sized for smaller hands
  • Wilcox Trowels - (All-Pro)

    Anne says: All-Pro Gardener’s Special Trowel (100 GS)
    All-Pro 14” Digging Trowel (202 S)

    Sharply beveled “V” shape blade slices through stubborn soil clods with digging ease. Graduated blade for easy bulb planting depth measurement.

    Bright red plastic handle for high visibility in the garden and contoured, grooved grip has securing finger holds.

    Stainless steel blade is strong, won’t rust and quickly cleans up for storage. Handy leather thong for securing to the garage pegboard.

    Easily handles all your mighty “oomphs” for tough prying or digging jobs without fear of bending. Can be used in the dagger or scoop style.

    • One piece stainless steel design
    • “V” shape blade
    • Contoured comfort grip
    • Sharply beveled blade for easy digging
  • Radius Trowels - (NRG)

    Anne says: NRG Trowel (#100)
    NRG Transplanting Trowel (#101)

    Wildly beautiful, arching handle design stands out (like a frog ahoppin’) among traditional flatter trowel designs. Natural Radius Grip® minimizes hand and wrist stress by curving the handle for a comfortable neutral position.

    Strong and durable, aluminum/magnesium alloy blade is 2-3x lighter than other heavier metal trowels!

    Handle material provides secure gripping (wet or dry) with a handy pinkie finger bracing lip at end. Highly visible lime green color will never get lost in the garden.

    Non-glare satin blade finish reduces amount of soil that sticks. Back blade wings can be used to pry up roots and stubborn weeds.

    • Ergonomic handle design
    • Ultra light (less than one pound)
    • Aluminum magnesium blade
    • Back blade wings
  • Vigoro Plus Hand Trowel (652-738) (1982700)

    Anne says: Versatile handle allows for double-handed digging. Use the lower handle for normal trowel action and for extra power and leverage, grab the top grip too! Enclosed oval handle design easier to grip and offers more balance control.

    Extra large blade for big trowel soil moving jobs. Graduated markings on blade for depth measurements. Lightly serrated blade edges for extra weed and soil slicing action.

    One-piece cast aluminum for extra durability.

    • Innovative handle design
    • 1-piece cast aluminum
    • Two-handed use
    • Large blade size

Related Articles

For the best garden trowels, look for versatility and a good design. The best hand trowels have a balanced handle and blade so they are easy to control. We suggest the best rose trowels and other gardening tools that often are also ergonomically correct so you can enjoy gardening all afternoon without the worries of injury.