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Hand Trowel from Kent and Stowe

Hand Trowel from Kent and Stowe

Kent and Stowe Capability Trowel


Kent and Stowe have recently released a new hand trowel, named after landscape designer Capability Brown. It was a design prototype I first saw at a trade launch in September 2021. I was therefore please to literally get a production version in my hand this week.

Initial Impressions

Taking off the string attached label, the first impressions were that it's big and heavy, or at least it seemed heavy when compared with my almost fifty-year-old Spear and Jackson trowel given to me as a twenty-first birthday present and regularly used ever since. The differences are many, This new model from Kent and Stowe is named Capability and is designed for a multitude of use in addition to the traditional planting and transplanting purposes.

Over the years, continual use meant the top of my trusty Spear and Jackson of my trowel had become worn, impregnated with soil and the timber had started to rot. The Capability model is capped with a heavy-duty stainless steel cover. This is one reason it is heavier. The cap initially worried me, but trying digging out holes with the Capability model, and you find yourself using the excellent FSC sourced crafted Ash handle rather than placing your palm over the top of the Spear and Jackson model. A subtle change that could save the previous problem  of blisters in the palm of your digging hand. I am sure I will find many uses for the stainless steel cap, possibly as a hammer for the smaller jobs rather than going back to the garage specifically for a hemmer for maybe a nail head sticking out of the shed or a fence panel, however it will not replace a hammer for some tasks.

My initial trial digging was in a narrow border with Blackberry and Laurel fibrous roots, the trowel easily penetrated the ground which hadn't been cultivated for over a year. The angle and shape of the pointed tip seems perfect for chopping into even the less cultivated soils in our garden. This must be also attributed to the design and angle of the handle in relation to the blade, requiring little effort for considerable work. 

Another important point is that our garden is on heavy clay soil and although the ground was moist following winter rains the soil did not stick to the blade, a very important consideration in my case, possibly less important for those on a sandy soil. A few weed seedlings were emerging and another use for the serrated edge is to use the trowel almost flat in a sawing action, severing weed foliage from its roots. This looks very promising when weeding amongst tiny plants such as my raised alpine beds or the rock garden. I also tried the trowel as a tool for opening compost and other bags, stabbing the point through proved easy if holding the bag taught and a sawing action easily enlarged the hole. I have always said you should never use a quality cutting knife near compost, so this towel maybe a good alternative to carrying a second gardeners multi use knife.

Imperial and metric measurement confuses a lot of people of all ages. The planting depth guide on the centre of the trowel blade should help all of us ensure we are planting subjects such as bulbs at the correct depth. I am particularly keen to try planting bulbs in grass using the Capability Brown trowel, as the design and the serrated edge should make this easy. I am not sure about the leather hanging loop, it could get in the way of having a firm grip on the well finished ash handle, however it could be easily temporary or permanently be removed by simply undoing the knot. The feral at the bottom of the handle seems to be a good fit, whereas the Spear and Jackson trowel has repeated been hammered to knock the feral back into place, but it always works loose. Tome will tell in the case of the Capability model.

Initial conclusions

Good points - handles well, soil does not stick, seems efficient and a good design.  An extended version of the traditional trowel.

Bad Points - so far none, although was initially sceptical about the weight,the stainless steel cap and the hanging loop.

Further trials

I will update my observations when I have used the trowel for 12 months

Details and Availability

Model Kent and Stowe Capability Trowel 1090-7234

Price £14.99 from Marshall's Garden and other good online and in-store garden retailers


The Capability Trowel from Kent and Stowe

With heavy-duty stainless steel blade


Serrated edge to trowel

for weeding or cutting.

Planting depth guide

Heavy-duty steel cap

General view

Image is designed and maintained by Darren Hodson © 2022, The Drurys