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Every gardener's caddy should have a trowel, which gets its name from the Latin trulla, meaning ladle. The tool's concave blade is meant for digging, weeding, dividing, and even cutting through stubborn roots. Some are designed for specific tasks: the bulb-planting trowel has a slender, pointed dish, and the right-angle trowel—a peculiar Swiss import with a perpendicular blade—makes for fast, powerful digging. For most jobs, any standard trowel will do (like Corona's eGrip Trowel, left), provided it's comfortable and built to last.
-Select a broad blade to move soil; a pointed V-shape for rocky terrain; and a long, narrow blade for weeds and rockeries.
-Forge-welded joints will resist separation far better than spot-welded joints. The handle and blade should be sturdily linked (better still if they're fashioned from a single piece of metal).
-The best handles will have a smooth finish and be made from hardwood or plastic; the grip should fit the contours of your hand.
Corona eGrip Comfort Trowel ($8) from Yard Lover (866/215-2230; yardlover.com)