RENEGADE GARDENER

The lone voice of horticultural reason

Don’t dig perennials and small shrubs using a shovel.

Perennial fork (left); lowly shovel (right)

If your question raised by the above statement is, “How else do you dig up plants?,” you don’t own a perennial fork.

At least, that’s what I call them. They have different names around the country. Some people call them pitchforks, but that isn’t right. Pitchforks have five to ten long, thin, sharp tines protruding from a long handle. A perennial fork has a short handle, and four flat, strong tines. Thrust the tines into the soil around a perennial or small shrub, pull back on the handle, and the tool sort of rocks/lifts/tears the plant out of the ground.

With the roots intact, mostly. A shovel cuts the roots of the plant you’re moving, no question, every time. You can work a perennial fork up close to perennials in close quarters, but not sever roots when thrusting the tines into the ground as you work the tool around the plant.

Don Engebretson
The Renegade Gardener