Standwell Long Pattern GardenTools    

1.Remove turf 

2. Break up soil in the first trench at right angles to the main dig. 
3. Do NOT use the full length of the handle to loosen the soil in the first trench.

Technique for Breaking New Ground Especially in Heavy Soils

I have broken new ground on several allotments with this type of spade and I strongly recommend the following technique to avoid damage to the spade. My other tip, if you are on an allotment for the first time, never do too much at once. If the plot is typically about 7 paces across do no more than a 1.22 m (4ft.) section on any one day. By the way, standing around gazing at the sky and chatting is highly recommended. 

1. To break new ground, first remove all brambles, long grass and perenial weed. If you are left with a turf-like surface lift the top layer by chopping the surface into strips of blade width and length then sliding the blade underneath. You will find the angle of the socket to the shaft makes this tough task much easier than if you were to use a conventional spade.

2.  Once you have cleared a useful area, say 1.22m (4 ft.) deep, you need to dig out the soil from the first trench, thereafter things are much easier. Cut a top & bottom edge to your trench no more than a spade width apart. 

Then adopt a position at right angles to your final digging pattern, sink the blade with usual force and lever back about 10 - 15 degrees to disturb the soil, to do this hold the shaft at no more than waist height, about 600mm from the top of the socket.  Loosen the soil in this way at no more than 100 mm (4 inch) intervals over the length of the first trench. 

3. When complete, approach the first trench as normal and again break up the soil. How much of this you have to do will depend upon the type of soil you have. Once the ground is loose remove the soil to create the trench. Thereafter dig as normal but remember to attack the soil in small sections, no more than 75mm at a time. 


Please note, each shaft is individually shaped for the best grip and is only about 25mm in diameter near to the top of the handle. Despite the long handle the leverage should be used only for lifting soil in broken groundYou must also avoid the temptation to prise up trees or rocks! This is a strong tool but you must not swing on the handle! With normal use, this spade will give many, many years of service, the original with a shaft at least 50 years old is still going strong.

Never leave tools outside, always store safely in the dry. The Long Pattern spade is designed for use in the garden or allotment. It is not a trenching tool, NEVER use it to lever up boulders or rocks, bushes, trees and the like. Please remember to clean and dry your tool after use and from time to time wipe the blade over with lubricant. 

Standwell Tools, Derbyshire, England.         email:         phone: 07779 169 792

Go to  for comprehensive advice, equipment sales, allotment diaries, photographs, advice about growing vegetables, fruits and herbs with a forum for chatting on the plot.

keywords: long handled spade, long handled digging, back pain, easier digging, long handle tools, garden spade