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Cultivating soil can be very enjoyable and is also good exercise. Having the right tool for the job is vital because it will make the job pleasurable, saves time and will avoid injury. Both forks and spades are used for improving the physical structure of the soil and to promote healthy root growth. Whilst digging the soil, obstacles can be removed, air spaces created and organic matter incorporated. Shovels are hopeless tools for digging. They have square mouths that make them ideal for shovelling and moving the soil and small spades can be used to create a spade edge against a lawn border.

When buying a garden fork, avoid those that are made from weak metals as they will bend easily and be ineffective. Forks made of a stronger metal such as steel are ideal and will make the task a lot easier. Forks are often preferable to spades for digging over the garden because they don't cut up the worms. With their four pointed tines, they penetrate stony or compacted ground more easily than a spade, but they bring less soil to the surface. The back of the fork can also be used to break up clods. Forks are more efficient than spades when digging heavy soils, as clay doesn’t stick to the tines as it does to a solid blade. Spades and forks are similar in construction, and the same considerations regarding materials, joints, handle lengths and grips apply when choosing them.