TheLorax
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I've been digging an awful lot of holes lately

I've been digging an awful lot of holes lately and this past weekend I trashed another $35 spade. They don't seem to last all that long for me and I do realize I'm probably not using them properly or I wouldn't be going through three spades a year. I've been told a line of spades is out there that offers the "King of Spades". Seems as if many people use these. Unfortunately with shipping and handling they're around $90 or higher. Anyone using this brand?
https://www.wwmfg.com/product_category.asp?idcategory=1

I also found this one that looks like it might work best for me given I'm often digging in clay and rock but now we're talking almost $180 with shipping and handling-
https://www.forestry-suppliers.com/product_pages/View_Catalog_Page.asp?mi=1605

What I could really use is a DynaDigger... they work very well and very fast but way out of our price bracket at around $1400-
https://www.gomulch.com/index.cfm/name-cont.products/app_prodid-66
Nice to dream though.

Suggestions on indestructible spades please? Tired of going through a few every season.

MaineDesigner
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Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b

I just got home from a day of moving azaleas and dividing huge miscanthus clumps so my digging muscles are honed even if the mind is dull.

I'm not sure what you're digging so it is difficult to offer blanket advice but if you are breaking shovels and spades you are either buying cheap tools or trying to use them as prying tools (wrong tool for that job). I use this for root pruning, dividing large grasses and some transplant/B&B work [url]https://www.wwmfg.com/product_detail.asp?idcategory=1&idproduct=15[/url]
It is a great tool but it is heavy and the initial step height to get it into the ground is high. Unless you are completely abusive and bit of gorilla you won't break it but you may find a day of using it fairly tiring. It is not a digging tool per se.

For herbaceous plants and small woody plantings I use "F" the transplanting or rabbiting or poachers spade with the wood handle:
[url]https://www.leevalley.com/garden/page.aspx?c=2&p=45712&cat=2,44813,56834&ap=1[/url]
I not thrilled that it is made in the PRC but it is a good tool and the English Bulldog spades are now both hard to find in the U.S. and prohibitively expensive with the decline of the dollar. I have never broken one.

For digging large holes I use a round point shovel. Essentially all the quality digging tools made in the U.S. are part of the Ames/True Temper/Jackson/Razorback/Union corporate family (they used to be separate companies). I use what is now called the Jackson Pony, a forged, closed back, round point shovel with a 47" ash handle. I don't like the current line of fiberglass handled shovels, some of their earlier models were better engineered.

If that doesn't answer your question let me know. I'm a fanatic about good tools and I've used a ton of different gardening, landscaping and pruning tools.

TheLorax
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I am digging holes to plant saplings. I've been digging aprx. 5 gallon, 10 gallon, and 15 gallon holes for the most part. Most of my saplings are in 1 gal, 3gal, or 5 gallon pots. Smaller holes for bareroots. I either use a trenching shovel or a planting bar for bareroots. I don't seem to have problems with the dibble bars. I have two, the second and the third one in the above advertisement are the exact ones I have. Those aren't heavy.
https://www.forestry-suppliers.com/cat_pdf/138_C56.pdf

In the beginning of the day, I use a pick ax with my spade for the larger holes that have lots of rocks. Toward the end of the day... not so much because I get tired and the pick ax becomes too heavy. That's when I jump (please don't cringe) on the spade and start wiggling it back and forth to be able to remove dirt. Admittedly, I am in better shape than most women my age but... I'm not 35 or even 45 years old any longer and I have got to use my weight to get the spades to go down.

For herbaceous perennials, I use a border spade similar to the one at your link but not that brand.

The majority of the areas I am planting into are heavy clay with rock so I need to remove rocks by hand and set aside some of the soil from the hole to be able to amend so I'm not creating a bathtub. I've been using fiberglass handled spades in the $35 range. The one I just broke was a ProGrip Structron. I already threw out the other one but it was another fiberglass handled spade/shovel similarly designed.

For root pruning, I use what ever I've got around but usually (I hear you gasping right now) a very expensive serrated knife that has a handle made out of bowling ball material. The manufacturer is Cutco and I've bought several now just in case I misplace the original one I bought over 20 years ago. I seem to do much better on my knees with the serrated knife when dividing plants than I do with an actual root pruner. I have a decent root pruner, I don't use it much.
For digging large holes I use a round point shovel.
I need to dig holes, lots of holes. Why don't you just suggest two round point shovels for me and I'll try not to act like an ape with them as the day drags on.

editing to add- this is the exact fiberglass handled spade I broke, I had the S700, scroll down a little bit.
https://www.hooverfence.com/tools/structron-tools-features.htm

MaineDesigner
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Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b

A M Leonard's website bites but I believe this is the shovel I use: [url]https://www.amleo.com/index/item.cgi?cmd=view&Words=b1b[/url]

TheLorax
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Found it-
https://wwww.mytoolsbee.com/

I'll buy one of these. This model has an ash handle. I've been using fiberglass handles. The other thing I found is that replacement handles can be ordered. It's the handle I keep breaking. Maybe I'll just order a replacement handle at the same time.

Thanks for giving me something new to try.

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NEWisc
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TheLorax - I think you need one of these: :lol:

[img]https://www.air-spade.com/images/Markets%20Applications/Arboriculture%20Horticulture/Pictures/Arbor%20006.jpg[/img]

https://www.air-spade.com/market_arboriculture.html

I watched one of these Air Spades work a couple of years ago at a demonstration of the long term problems created by incorrect tree planting. They used this tool to clear the soil away from the roots of "telephone pole" trees. The photo above is from the website, but some of the photo's that I took at the demonstration that I went to show the long term problems with encircling roots, etc.
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MaineDesigner
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How big was the compressor and tank supplying that thing? Did you get a chance to take a very close look at the roots post excavation? It looks really interesting but I don't think I want to try it on anything I cared about without considerable experience using it.

TheLorax
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I can see where a toy like that has its place, that's for sure. I'm pretty careful about how I plant trees so I'm probably ok forgoing the expense of that neato little gadget and the accompanying air compressor. I bet the air compressor is the biggest expense. Fortunately, I'm not in the landscaping industry undoing other people's mistakes. Lord knows I've got enough of my own mistakes to undo around here.

You know what really gets to me? Mulch volcanoes around trees. They are so common around here. I don't know how anyone could find them attractive let alone healthy for a tree to have a foot or higher of mulch mounded up around its trunk. Have you ever gotten the chance to see the damage under those mulch volcanoes? We have family friends that hired new landscapers a few years ago. We go to a barbecue at their house every summer and then we see them a few times on and off throughout the year. A few summers ago we went to their home and every tree in their yard was buried up at least a foot maybe higher in that orangy looking cedar mulch that's become so popular. They were so proud. I didn't quite know what to say when they asked me what I thought. Excavated out one tree to give them a peek at what had been going on under the mulch for just the last year since we had been there and they weren't too happy. That was the end of their new landscaper.

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NEWisc
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MaineDesigner - The compressor was a sizable unit, one that is on wheels and towed behind their pickup. I did not look into the specifications of the compressor, but I think that info is on the website that I linked.

The purpose of the demonstration was the root problems of mature trees that had been incorrectly planted many years ago. The certified arborists were not there to demonstrate the tool. I think they owned the Air Spade and simply rented a compressor when they needed it. They had expanded their business to include correcting root problems as well as above ground problems with trees. The demonstration was at a retired extension agent's house; on his mature trees. So there was a lot of knowledge present that should have spotted any major flaws in the procedure.

They would remove the soil to about 4 feet from the trunk all around the tree. With the roots exposed, it was very easy to spot any root problems. Encircling/crossing roots were removed and the soil replaced. I don't recall if any sort of treatment was applied to the severed roots.

If I remember correctly. there were only a few very small "feeder?" roots within the area where the soil was cleared. I believe most of these were damaged during the process. The explanation at the time was that these small feeder roots were not significant to the tree. I did not see any damage to the outer layers of the rest of the roots.

I don't have time right now, but I"ll try to get some of my photo's of the demonstration uploaded to a hosting site for posting here.

TheLorax - Wouldn't this tool be just the neatest thing for blasting invasives right out of the ground! :lol:
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Age is a biological fact.
Old is a state of mind.
I will age, but I refuse to get old.

TheLorax
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NEWisc, I'm sure this little toy could come in real handy to get rid of some nasties. I'm not quite comfortable downing any tree that has a height greater than 25'-30'. I leave bigger trees to those who have considerably more experience and much bigger chainsaws than me. I can definitely see where this air spade has tremendous potential though... too bad the compressors that run them are probably in the 5k price bracket without the cost of the air spade.

Have to go now. Back next week.

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NEWisc
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MaineDesigner - Here's some photo's from the demonstration that I was talking about:

[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v466/northeastwisc/p6220040.jpg[/img]

[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v466/northeastwisc/P6220049.jpg[/img]

[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v466/northeastwisc/P6220054.jpg[/img]

[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v466/northeastwisc/P6220056.jpg[/img]

[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v466/northeastwisc/P6220058.jpg[/img]


Roots Detail:
[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v466/northeastwisc/Image_6_.jpg[/img]

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Age is a biological fact.
Old is a state of mind.
I will age, but I refuse to get old.

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JPlovesflowers
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Location: Northwest Arkansas

How about an auger?

Have you considered trying to rent a power auger. If you're doing a whole bunch of holes in a short time, it might be worth the investment. I didn't read all of the posts, so I might be speaking out of turn, but if you have an equipment rental company nearby, it might be worth looking into....just a thought :D
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to plant and a time to uproot. Eccl 3:1&2b

TheLorax
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Have you considered trying to rent a power auger.
I have a rental place around here somewhere. That might have been the intelligent thing to do given how many holes I have out there but then again I'm not exactly the brightest crayon in the box at times. I did order the shovel MaineDesigner steered me to though.

doccat5
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MAN O MAN, now THAT is some shovel!! Are you digging to like China or other foreign places? I had no idea the soil was so hard in your neck of the woods!!

LOL :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
doccat5

I'd rather be gardening!

TheLorax
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(sigh) The clay is extremely heavy and gravelly in some areas here. Makes you want to scream! Thanks for the vote of sympathy! New shovel is here but I haven't tested it out yet. Let's see how long this one lasts before I trash it.

aqh88
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It's possible to break spades.. and shovels? Most of the tools I'm using except my newer lightweight shovel are older than me (23). Maybe they just don't make things how they used to. Most of my shovels have been used to pry loose frozen barn doors, chip ice, and various other hard uses. They still dig holes come spring. Aside from my lightweight shovel (those old iron scoop shovels were killing me) noone in my family has probably bought a new one since my grandpa was my age. :lol:

TheLorax
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Aside from my lightweight shovel (those old iron scoop shovels were killing me) noone in my family has probably bought a new one since my grandpa was my age.
Braggart. I think you need to come visit me and teach me your family's technique. I think I'll catch on after you dig maybe 20 holes for me or so. I'll watch very carefully and take notes.

Mimi
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I'm new to this site, but found this after reading your posts. I think I need a spade.

[url]https://rayssupplycompany.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=71[/url]

I hope I'm still in the post about spades with T handles!

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