What tool do you use to turn soil?

What equipment is generally used to loosen and prepare soil for planting?

Its early spring and after the last frost the time has come to prepare the garden making it fit for plating. I know this sometimes is the most strenuous part of the garden love affair but crucial to get that beautiful floral appearance that we all love.


Turning the soil on hard ground

First job in hand is turning over the soil allowing air and deeper nutrients lurking below to be released to the higher levels of the soil compound. Preparing the soil all weeds and unwanted large stones can be removed making it nice and soft for easy planting.

Nowadays I have seen some good tools for dealing with this important task ahead.

However, if your soil replicates concrete that will laugh at any spade that come near it, there are other solution that are ideal for this job to get the start you need.

Most common is:


Roughneck ROU64152 Fibreglass Pick


For “cracking” the soil the roughneck pick works well. The pointed side of the pick head pierces the most stubborn soil crust with East. Whereas the wider blade will turn out narrow channels practically effortlessly.

On the other hand is can be slow with only small areas developing due to the width of blade, but saying that is and ideal small garden tool choice.

For larger areas in question more suitable tools are available that can cover larger areas much quicker.

This multitask tools is my choice for all this kind of garden work introducing

The Roughneck multitask tool is easy to use and is lightweight but perfectly balanced. Lovely cushioned rubber grip on the light but strong fiberglass handle means throwing this around is easy.

Not only does it turn baked hard soil into mincemeat will uproot weeds and even take out small tree stumps.

My opinion this is must have in any gardener’s toolbox.


  • Head easy to fit on handle
  • Strong and sturdy
  • Grips along handle make it simple to use 


  • Handle can snap under too much pressure with leverage

  Best Review From Customers

This pick mattock is just as good as I had hoped. Head fits on easily and has not budged so far. The fibreglass shaft has a weight inside it and makes it heavier than a wooden handle. It has rubber grips on it that make it very easy to hold and very much non-slip.
I have used it to dig up a lumpy garden and remove sod, roots and in stony ground. A spade would not have touched this but the mattock churned it up with ease.
This is still a workout, after all you are lifting a few kilos every strike. However it does do the job where a spade, fork or similar would fail.
It is good quality and was a good price. Should last forever and has a multitude of uses in a garden. Lifting slabs, breaking roots, digging and tilling soil etc., this thing works wonders.

Worst Customer Review

Sturdy pick and a strong handle, so breaks through the rocks/concrete/flags as required.

Only problem for me was that the tip kept sliding down the handle every now and again and I’d have to stand on it to get it “stuck” at the top!!! Obviously when you’re swinging, this is irrelevant as the force keeps it at the top anyway.

Fork Hoe

Last tool I recommend with use and hard soil surfaces that too can cope with large areas in hand. I might not be to good at removing deep rooted weeds but breaks and turn hard soil with ease as if you are using a fork.

Underestimated tool that is seldom used by gardener’s these days however I have used this tool and loved it. Quick responsive and results appear quickly. If your wife has popped to work and you want a couple of extra mugs of coffee this is your saviour. You can pick up the tool and smash the life out of the area your working on and the other half will think you have been hard at it for hours. Proof is in the pudding and its earn me a special treatment off the wife more than once.

Here is you ticket for a happy wife or partner.

Leborgne 406111 Forged 3-Prong Fork Hoe with Wooden Handle


Well here it is my friends, use it like an axe and just push back on the handle. It cracks the hard surface and turns it over “fast” The weight cast folk head pierces the soil with ease, it can be a workout, but you feel great for it. However, I do not advise people with heart or severe breathing problems go down this route.


  • Strong wooden handle
  • forged steel head
  • Simple to use
  • Breaks hard soil effortlessly and turns it over
  • loosens large areas of soil quickly


  • Head needs wedging to hold still

Turning the soil on soft ground

If your soil is already soft this stage start here, for hard soil you are now at stage two for the preparation process.

All the available tools on the market the most common of all are ideal for this task. “Yes, you have guessed right” the good old fork and spade.

When I first needed these basic tools, I was flabbergasted on the amount of different spade and forks out there. Which ones do I get? Springs to mind. There was spades for all kinds of purposes. After buying a cheap bog-standard spade I realised that my back was aching and was difficult to straighten up. No good I did not look good with the posture of an horseshoe after completing a full soil turnover.

This got me thinking I needed something so it would reduce bending over for long periods of time.

Looking through lots of different options I found something. I bought it and couldn’t wait to see if it stopped my back locking up and aching. Seen a lot of them used in America on plantations “now I know the reasons why.

This is very similar to what I used

Bulldog 7103LPH48N Long Handled Digging Fork


The extra long handle reduces the need for bending saving your back for another day. Like I mentioned they are used frequently on farms and plantations across America were the areas are vast to be worked upon. If the folk are coping with it using this form of maintenance digging fork, then it must be good for me too. It did not let me down.

This fork with turn over the soil with ease and give excellent results However, is you do not like to much hard labouring in the garden there are alternatives.

This means powered tools that take out the manual required with hand tools.

For domestic purpose my pick is this moderately priced electric rotavator that has great user reviews is more than adequate for breaking down and turning soil the easy way.


  • Long handle prevents back strain
  • Makes work easy 
  • Sharp fork enters the ground like knives


  • Long handle will not hold up for leverage of heavy weight
  • For safe leverage hold the handle further down shaft to support handle.

  Best Review From Customers

Another beautiful traditional gardening tool , i already have a long handled spade and would not even consider using the conventional fork and spade which you have to bend your back for every sod turned not so with the long handle once you master the technique you can dig all day without pain . thanks bulldog its a thing of great beauty no shiny stainless steel less weight and you can sharpen the points why oh why do we seek to reinvent the wheel !!!

Worst Customer Review

Did not use the fork or its replacement as both had the shafts not square to tines, tines not straight and erratic sanding of shafts half the makers mark sanded off,general poor finish of metal and wood parts.This was meant to replace my ancient strapped brades fork( because I wanted the long handle) bulldog not even close to brades quality. I don’t think the forging is done in Walsall anymore so to advertise it as crafted British is misleading. Anyway ordered true temper long handled fork instead so I’ll see. Amazon brilliant service as usual, bulldog needs to sort quality out

Electric Rotavator

VonHaus Electric 1050W Tiller



A great manoeuvrable weight at just over 10 kg takes the hard labour aspect out of the job


After this is complete the soil is nearly ready to go. One this left to do it these tools have not done some is removing any unwanted weeds or anything else undesirable in the soil.

It is essential to remove the weeds for a few reason

  • One weeds take valuable nutrients out of the soil.
  • They choke young newly introduced plants
  • Can quickly outgrow plants absorbing more sunlight putting smaller plants in the shade stunting there growth.

This is the very reason not to allow weeds to establish themselves in your garden. Any prevention is better than a cure.

I have provided an article dedicated to the removal of weeds for you to take a browse.

It is so important to carry out this process if you want magnificent results that you can proudly show of to your friends and peeping neighbours.


  • Easy to assemble
  • Easy to use
  • Value for move
  • Good for preparation of soil for new lawn
  • Covers large areas quickly
  • Highly rated product


  • Needs to be held tightly when using

  Best Review From Customers

Before purchasing anything these days I always look for the Amazon reviews and whilst they certainly give a good idea the inevitable poor reviews always give pause for thought no matter how many good reviews there are. I have to say however that in respect of this product I should have had no such worries. It really does do what it says on the tin, chewing through my hard clay soil(?) with ease. If I had to criticise it, I’d say that it would benefit from side guards to stop lateral amovement of the churned material as if you use it within 18″ of an area where you don’t want the earth (and stones) such as a lawn you will spend time picking off the stones and earth. But as a hard soil breaker, it’s excellent. Just make sure you’ve cleared the area of lumps of concrete which can jam the tines. The gearbox ratio is such that you can’t turn the tines by hand to release the obstruction. I had to use a pneumatic chisel to break the concrete as I couldn’t remove the tine even after removing the bolts. A definite 5 stars from me.

Worst Customer Review

Broke the second time I used it, suspect the gearbox has failed, the motor spins but the tines will not move. Suitable only for very light work. As the packaging has been thrown away I am just going to chalk this one down to experience and get a better quality one.

Another problem is that the power cable is black and not orange so it can be very difficult to see when laid on the ground and it would be very easy to run the tiller (if it is still working) over the cable, would advise the use of an RCD (which should be used with mains power tools outside anyway.).


I hope this information gives you the information you require and also I would love to hear from you about this topic if you leave a comment below.

Happy gardening and I will be back soon


astonshedsuk.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Program, an affiliate Designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, ebay.co.uk, sheds.co.uk, keengardener.co.uk )





Related Articles

Please follow and like us:
Tweet 20