By Stephanie Lezotte
I was introduced to the Kobalt line at my local Lowe’s about two years ago and have been satisfied with their products so far. I needed a tool for shoveling mulch—a lot of it—and I was pleased to see a Kobalt product choice: the short-handled wood scoop. I already own a digging shovel, but I wanted a tool capable of moving large quantities of mulch into my wheelbarrow (see my Union Tools Wheelbarrow review). I base my review on six factors: weight, cost, design, handle, scoop, and handling.
I chose this product based purely on its lightweight frame. I wanted to avoid tool fatigue, as I tend to work at a fast pace with minimal breaks. I spent some time carrying the tool around the store and occasionally mimicked a scooping motion when I felt no one was looking. Surprisingly, the weight was tolerable and my arm did not feel strained.
The Kobalt cost around $35 and was the more expensive of the two available scoops. The competition was $10 cheaper but much heavier, so the choice was simple for me.
I love the look of this scoop; the handle’s cobalt blue is recognizable and the scoop’s aluminum finish provides a high-quality sheen. The tool gives the appearance of a high-quality product.
This is a short-scoop; the handle is 27 inches long with a grip at the top. I am only 5’2” and the handle length was a good size for me. It is made of wood but completely encased for protection. I appreciate this design feature. I have owned a few cooking spatulas that were assembled by simply gluing the blade into the handle (as opposed to having a more thorough coupling). Once food particles got lodged in that crevice, it was just a matter of time before the blade wiggled free from its handle. I see no visible gap between the Kobalt handle and the scoop, so I don’t anticipate pieces of mulch, dirt, or gravel wedging their way between the two pieces and jeopardizing the crucial connection.
The aluminum scoop has three ribs, but I am not sure these actually do anything. I didn’t have a problem with the scoop not holding the amount of mulch I needed or having mulch gather at one side of the scoop while shoveling. The scoop is large, size #12 blade, and advertised as rust-proof. I did use it to handle some wet mulch, and there is no sign of rust.
I had trouble handling this scoop. Instead of performing an actual scooping/shoveling motion, I found that it was instead easier for me to lodge the scoop somewhere in the mulch and proceed to fill the scoop by making a scooping motion with my hands. This actually cost me a pair of gardening gloves and caused some back and leg pain. The point of a scoop is to scoop, not to bend over and place material into the scoop. I wondered if the problem was due to the size of my 8-yard mulch pile, so I tried scooping a shallow, completely dry area of the pile.
I found that the only areas that I could actually scoop were the tapered edges of the pile. Using my foot like I would with a typical digging shovel, I would wedge the scoop under the bottom of the pile (where I had wrongly assumed the load would be heaviest and therefore hardest to scoop) and shimmy the scoop back and forth toward the top of the pile until I had a scoopful of mulch. Still, I found that process to be too laborious, so I altered between scooping and bending over/pushing mulch into the scoop.
After a few weeks of use, I now alternate moving mulch between the two methods mentioned above and using my digging shovel that has a much smaller blade surface, which effectively and easily gets mulch into my wheelbarrow, albeit at a slower rate. This Kobalt scoop is a good tool for moving a lot of material at once, especially lighter material such as grain, but the scooping mechanism can be quite strenuous on heavier mulch, sand, and soil.
A published writer and novice gardener, Stephanie Lezotte dabbles in over 1500 square feet of newly purchased gardens that yield hundreds of tulips, daffodils, hostas, and daylilies. She enjoys trying new gardening tools and techniques and isn’t afraid to get (a little) dirty.