Grubbing Out Roots
Master gardener Paul James suggests tools that are great for digging out roots.
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When most gardeners hear the word "grub," they likely first think of a small white larva that resides in soil. Or maybe they think of food. But grub also means to dig out roots, and to do that, you need a grubbing tool.
Grubbing tools are available with long and short handles and different designs; serrated trowels and gardening knives can be used for grubbing.
This short-handled, Japanese-made tool (figure A) is a true grubber. It does an excellent job of digging out roots as well as doing a pretty good job at planting bulbs and preparing small planting holes.
This very familiar tool, the mattock (figure B), features a pick at one end so you can grub all you want and pick out stones as well.
For really big roots, this long-handled grubbing hoe (figure C) is king, but you need to know how best to use it: Use the weight of the tool to your advantage by lifting the head up high in front of you and letting it fall, rather than trying to use the more familiar over-the-shoulder chopping motion.
This is another great tool for grubbing out roots (figure D). Just make sure you aren't grubbing anywhere near irrigation or utility lines.
And the lowly trowel, especially if it has serrated edge on its business end (figure F), can also function as a grubbing tool.
Another thing to keep in mind when grubbing out roots is the size of the roots themselves. Cutting roots larger than one inch in diameter can stress nearby trees and shrubs to the point of no return.
Japanese grubber (Planter's Tool, #18.060.10) - Japan Woodworker
mattock (Garden Pick & Hoe, #18.061.60) - Japan Woodworker
long-handled grubber (Azada, grub hoe) - Easy Digging
long-handled straight-edge grubber - available at most large lawn & garden centers
serrated trowel (Gel-E Trowel) - Gardening With Ease
gardening knife, or hori-hori (Gardener's Friend) - Japan Woodworker
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