A gardener is only as good as his tools, and the shovel, spade and newly mechanized tools have changed the appearance of the gardening world. Many people from outside the gardening profession may not have heard of the mattock, but this tool can fulfill a number of roles needed for planting, gardening and landscaping. The two most common types of mattock available are pick mattocks and cutter mattocks; safe and proper use of these tools can give you an advantage in your gardening tasks.
Wear garden gloves and protective goggles when working with a mattock, to protect yourself from flying shrapnel or dirt from the digging process.
Plant your feet carefully so that they are fully braced on solid ground; the mattock is a heavy tool, and swinging from an unsteady position could result in loss of balance and potential injury.
Hold the mattock at the end of the handle with one hand and near the center with the other hand; you can switch hand positions as you work. Bring the foot on the same side as the trailing hand forward toward the work area a few inches to help compensate for the swing.
Swing with the mattock head to create divots or cuts in the ground for planting; the mattock end is usually used in the same way as a spade or shovel. This end allows you to pull up large areas of ground for tilling or softening soil before planting.
Reverse the pick mattock and swing with that end to break large clumps of dirt or clay, as well as small stones, in the planting area. This type of mattock gets its name since the opposite side of the head resembles a pickax.
Switch to a cutter mattock to remove old roots from the ground in the planting area. This cutting edge is useful for removing old plants or weeds that are competing with your plants for nutrients.