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Spade vs Shovel: Which Is The Best Tool For Your Project?

Doing some yard work or gardening for the first this weekend? Ensuring that you have the right tool for the job will avoid excessive work, injuries, and provide the optimal result you desire. But how can you tell which gardening tool is going to be the best for you? A spade vs a shovel, for example. There are pros and cons to both like how a shovel will help ease the work of moving around loose material, whereas a spade can dig into hard surfaces and create loose material. It really depends on the project at hand, so let’s review and you can determine for yourself.

In order to choose between two similar items, so similar that people often get the two mixed up, we have to break down their features and purposes. By sorting between the two garden tools, you can begin to see whether you should use a spade or shovel for digging. They each fall into their own categories of purpose and you, the user, can decide which one is best for your project.

Shovel vs Spade Comparison Table

TypeBladeLengthHandleUses
True-Temper-Long-Handle-Digging-Shovel-1
Spade
Often narrow and pointed. Blade is often concave.Often Has A Shorter ArmOften has a rubber grip grasp. No angle where the blade connects to the handle.Best for digging rather than moving
Ames-True-Temper-1564500-1
Shovel
Flat and Thin and wider base. Can have a rounded blade to them.Often Has A Longer ArmUsually has an easy to hold handle. Shovel has an angle where the blade connects to the handle Best for moving

What is a Shovel, Exactly?

It’s a wide and flat surface on the end of a long handle and is used to move or “shove” material from one place to another. They come in a few different variations, but it’s one of the most common garden tools and can be used all year round.

Pros

  • Great for sliding underneath material and scooping large amounts
  • Enough for a full grown man to grasp and be mobile

Cons

  • None

What is a Spade, Exactly?

A spade, while quite similar to a shovel in appearance, is actually meant to be used for digging material, not moving it. Spades are often slenderer in shape and have a pointed end which is perfect for getting past several layers of material. It’s not as commonly used as a regular shovel, but a spade is definitely a must have in the garden shed if you do any sort of gardening or landscaping during the Spring and Summer.

Pros

  • Easy grip end which perform better
  • Perfect for gardening or landscaping

Cons

  • None

Major Difference Between a Spade and a Shovel

At first glance, the two garden tools appear to be two variations of the same object: a shovel. But there are some key features that set the two apart; shape, length, blade, and handle.

Shovel

A shovel often has a wide and flat shape, which is great for sliding underneath material and scooping large amounts of it to move from one place to another. But a spade has a slenderer base and a pointed end. Furthermore, the shape of a spade end is usually concave, where a shovel is simply flat or only slightly rounded.

The length of a shovel from handle to base is often long enough for a full grown man to grasp and be mobile without having to bend much. A spade, while they do come in a longer length, are more commonly found in shorter versions because they are meant to be used at a closer proximity to the surface of the ground. The blade of a shovel is often quite flat, which is great for the ease of slipping it tightly underneath the material you wish to move.

Spade

A spade, on the other hand, may have a pointed end but the bladed sides are a little thicker. As for the handle of both tools, they both come with one. But a shovel always comes with a handle to grip. A spade, however, is better used without a handle, especially the shorter lengths. Having a thick, rubber, easy grip end rather than a shovel handle helps the spade perform better.

A Long Spade with a Handle

A Short Spade without a Handle


And for those of you who are extremely visual and prefer the aid of a nice, instructional video, here’s a quick clip that clearly demonstrates the key differences between a spade and a shovel:

Different Variations

Whether it’s a weed wacker, a rake, or a digging tool, there are different variations of each that help tackle certain tasks better than other versions. For example, a shovel can be found in a circular, square, or scoop shape. A spade can be long and slender, wide and angular, or even sharp on one side to slice through tough material.

 

Assessment

Given the choice between the two garden tools, I would definitely go with a shovel. The option to have a model that does both the tasks of each tool within one is very appealing. Cutting down on the number of tools that take up space in my garden shed is also a plus. When I have a number of different maintenance projects for my yard, I like the idea of pulling out one tool for most of them. While a spade is great for gardening, in particular, it just wouldn’t cut it for the other things my property requires such as spreading gravel, filling plant beds with soil, and clearing my decks and walkways of debris. So, taking everything into consideration, I would choose a shovel, and this model seems like the perfect fit: True Temper Long Handle Digging Shovel. Hopefully you found this information to be as helpful as possible. It may seem like such a minor decision, but keep in mind that a shovel can do the work of a spade, but not the other way around. Feel free to share and comment on what tool worked best for your project!

About The Author

Candace Osmond

Award Winning Designer, Candace Osmond has been in the industry for over a decade. She studied Interior Decorating & Design and is also an accomplished writer and multi-published author. When she's not typing away from the comforts of her desk, Candace can be found travelling to warm destinations, tending to her garden, or enjoying the outdoor haven that is her backyard. Candace currently resides in the breathtaking Maritimes of Eastern Canada with her husband, two beautiful kids and one slobbery bulldog.

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