And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Monday, July 30, 2007

Garden Tool Review: The Garden Claw Gold

The Garden Claw, made by the Faultless Starch/Bon Ami Company, is a strange looking yet surprisingly useful tool. Prices range from $20-$50 at retail stores, causing me to make some unfavorable assumptions about the retail industry. But that's another post.

In my experience, the best use for the Garden Claw is heavy duty weeding. I use it mostly in neglected areas of my garden where the weeds have had a chance to develop strong root systems. It grabs the weeds and twists them, loosening the weed and the surrounding soil, making pulling weeds a breeze. I am able to get right up next to other plants quite easily without damaging them or their root systems, which is handy in my closely planted veggie patch. According to their ad, the Claw is also good for mixing compost, aerating lawns, and digging holes. Unfortunately, it is only able to loosen and mix to the depth of the tines (6" or less) and has no ability to lift soil, so I don't think it would be very good at these applications. I admit to not trying it to either dig holes or mix compost, so I could be wrong.

One of the best features of the Claw is the adjustable height. I'm tall for a woman, so I really appreciate being able to put my garden tools at a height comfortable for me. Both having the tool at a proper height and the Claw's easy twisting motion have saved my back from a lot of aches.
The Claw does not do as well in compacted soils. When I have used it on the paths in my garden, I have had to use some foot power to get the tines to break the soil surface. Once you get started, though, it does break up the soil quite nicely. I have not had the opportunity to test it against other tools in this situation, so I don't know how it compares to anything else.

Made of hardened steel, the Claw has held up very well to 2 years of abuse from me. It has been walked on, left outside in all weather (yup, I forgot it outside over the winter once), thrown around, banged into, and knocked over. The tines have been forcefully banged into rocks hiding under the surface of the soil and bricks hidden by weeds. The only thing that has changed from the day I bought it is some paint fading from the sun.

All in all, I believe the Garden Claw is a good tool for the small scale gardener to have. I reach for it again and again, especially now I have raised beds. It is so easy to mix compost and fertilizer into the top layers of soil or loosen weeds in small areas with this tool. So if you have looked at them and wondered if they were worth the investment, I say "you bet".

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