Gardens

The Bamboo Spade

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Easy way to dig up bamboo roots

I’m a fanatic about gardening and have many tools — particularly for digging — as I have many large plants, shrubs, bamboo, large grasses, and giant clumps of day lilies which get moved around, or divided, or dug up to share with friends.

If one has plants like this, particularly those with significant root systems, digging can be a long and difficult task. Ten years ago a friend loaned me a special shovel to dig up some large plants, and I became an instant convert to something called the Bamboo Spade.

This uniquely designed tool allowed me to accomplish in a couple of minutes what might have previously taken an hour or more of sweaty, nasty work. The Bamboo Spade is an all-steel, 2-piece shovel which incorporates a very heavy cylindrical weight that moves up and down on the shaft, like a slide hammer. No conventional digging is actually required to do the job. You simply set the tip of the shovel down on the ground and then raise and smash the weight down a few times: it drives the shovel into the ground and through any roots.

After you do this several times around the circumference of the plant, the whole thing can be popped out of the ground and moved…all with minimal shock and damage to the plant.

If you would have told me when I started gardening that one day I would happily spend almost $200 on a shovel, I would have thought you were crazy. However this unique tool has been a bargain in terms of the many hours I have saved and the frustration I have avoided. And it has held up to all kinds of abuse with no signs of damage or failure.

I have used many tools (other shovels, axes, root saws, root choppers, pruners, loppers, SawzAll, and demolition bar) to try to accomplish this type of task, but none — individually or in combination — come close to the Bamboo Spade in terms of efficiency and ease.

This link has a nice photo sequence of the tool in action.

-- Gil Haselberger 11/16/15