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Tips for Beginners: The Coincidental Improvement of the Old-fashioned Shovel
Dr. Mark G. Konrad
Sewickely, Pennsylvania

        The shovel is as basic to horticulture as the wheel is to transportation. In addition to being a digging tool, the shovel can be used for edging as well as scuffling. But why not make it better?
        Improving this greatest of horticultural tools came about through accidental experimentation. The improvement came about through a casual event when I decided to place a hard plastic tube (PVC for water conduit) over a long-handled shovel. The tube (5 feet in length with an inner diameter of 1� inches)had been lying around from some other project. After the sleeve was added the total length of the shovel handle became 6 feet. The best width of the shovel head is probably 7 inches or less. This became an indispensable tool. Because of the increased leverage and strength, loosening of the soil and the clipping of invading roots became much easier.

Improved shovel
Photo by Mark G. Konrad

        In addition, it became an ideal edging tool. Once the edging groove is made, follow-up maintenance becomes very easy. Any grass removed is turned over adjacent to the groove edge. The extra length and weight of the shovel makes for a controlled push, with the diameter and smoothness of the PVC handle being very easy on the hands.
        This tool follows me everywhere in the garden and, who knows, it may even have commercial potential.

Dr. Konrad is a member of the Great Lakes Chapter.