The Mighty Mattock

If you had to choose one tool for gardening it should be the mattock. Similar to a pickaxe, it has a two-sided head—a broad-bladed end to be used as a hoe, digger, or sodbuster and a reverse end with a pointed or three-pronged head for cultivating the soil. The weight of the heavy head (3–7 pounds) attached to the end of a 3–4 foot wooden or composite shaft gives the tool real momentum and heft. The heads and handles are often sold separately. Ask the store’s staff to help you choose the right length handle, as it will allow the mattock to work effectively and do a whole lot of the “heavy lifting” for you as you head into your garden beds. When you heave the mattock up over your head and swing it down, the blade slices through the soil like a hot knife slices through butter. The second tool for your garden should be the hand mattock—it’s perfect for whacking away those unwanted weeds. Most home centers carry mattocks for under $30.00. But for a wonderful collection of gardening tools take a stroll through the website of Smith & Speed Mercantile.