I was given a set of Spear & Jackson’s Traditional Stainless series of garden tools to trial last year and over the course of six months or so, I’ve really put them through their paces! I really like the look of them, with their wooden handles and steel ends, which also means eventually the handle can be replaceable making them more sustainable than any with plastic parts. I find wood is warmer on the hands, which is important on colder days.
Garden border spade
This border spade is smaller than heavy-lifting digging spades and has been my most used large gardening tool in our first year on the farm and I’ve loved it. Lightweight with a smooth wooden handle, it’s been a joy to carry around and dig with. I generally aim to dig soil as little as possible so as not to disturb the subterranean soil life, however there are times when you have to. I predominantly used it to create new beds by digging and slicing out large areas of turf, to dig out large tap rooted weeds like dock, to dig planting holes for shrubs and large perennials and for lifting soil to plant bulbs.
The metal blade itself cuts cleanly through soil and has a slight ridge to the top for your feet to press down onto, making its use comfortable. It actually comes with a warning not to use it to lift slabs of stone as they can be heavier than the spade is intended for but I broke the rules and lifted a huge slab, it had no problem, vouching for its strength. I don’t recommend using it in this way however as it’s designed for digging soils only. Our soil can be quite heavy with a good mix of clay and it’s had no problem lifting this. In terms of size, I am quite tall at 180cm (6ft 2in) and found it the right size, the spade head is about midsize, making it lightweight and nimble enough for in-planting work.
Built in the same way as the spade with (grade SK5) mirror polished stainless steel for resistance to rust and minimal soil adhesion, plus a weather-proofed hardwood handle for a longer life. I’ve used the fork for weeding and loosening compacted soil, often with large stones in. I’ve been impressed that the prongs (called tines) have dealt with these obstructions and weight easily without any kind of movement to them.
Lawn edging knife
A lawn half-moon edging knife is one of those tools you wouldn’t think would get much use but in fact, you’ll pick it up more than you expect. It’s designed for what’s pictured above, edging lawns or borders by cutting down sharply. Like the spade it has a slight ridge tread on top for your feet to go onto making it comfortable and easy to use. This also acts as a nice ‘stop’ to get the same height all the way along the edge. I’ve been using it in conjunction with our spade to carve out large planting areas in our lawn and it’s worked very well. Generally it’s used for tidying up edges of lawns as the grasses can, over time, spread into the border. You simply cut down and then lift any excess pieces away easily, lawn grass being shallow rooted.
One of my favourite and most important tools in my armoury for organic gardening. Hoes are designed to be sharp, slicing through the roots of weeds. In summer it fast becomes my most used tool, sliding across the surface of dry soils, cutting weed roots, the plants then drying and dying in the heat. A hoe in summer makes it possible to keep large expanses of soil clear of weeds with little effort, such as across our allotment. In winter, hoes become clogged with wet soil making hoeing near impossible when too wet, which is true off all of them. I found the handle length, lightness and the sharpness of the blade perfect all last summer and I’m looking forward to putting it to work again in the next growing season.
Like all the tools in this range, you know what to expect with the light and smooth hard wood handle alongside the strong and sharp steel head. This rake is built for raking soils, I use it gently on the top layer of soil to even it out for planting seeds and seedlings, to remove weed debris after hoeing or to spread mulches evenly over a soil. This type of rake isn’t designed for raking leaves across lawns and will struggle doing that, use a lawn rake for that task with its finer prongs (tines).
These Spear & Jackson Traditional Stainless garden tools were given to me for a no obligations honest review and I am impressed. I like the look of them and the fact the materials they are made from are sustainable. They came as they are without any unnecessary packaging. I’ve used them for well over 6 months now across all areas of our farm and garden, often quite roughly as you can see by their coating in mud! They’ve handled everything without issue and are comfortable on bare hands as much as gloved. Costs wise, they’re just below mid-tier pricing for such tools making them good value in my eyes. I have no trouble in recommending them.