5 Types of Shovels Best For Gardening - Backyard Boss
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5 Types of Shovels Best For Gardening

Shovels are a common sight in just about every gardener’s tool collection. Having the right garden shovel can make a world of difference in how easy your gardening experience is. Ready to find the best shovel for your gardening project?

Discover what makes a garden shovel, the best shovel materials, and the five types of shovels that are best for home gardening.

What Makes a Garden Shovel?

Having a shovel is a must for any gardener. When you know the standard anatomy of shovels you can pick the best garden shovel for your project every time!

Shovels have three key components, the handle, the scoop, and the cutting blade. The top of the handle is where you hold the shovel, then the base connects to the scoop. The scoop of the shovel is what you use to pick up or move soil and plants. The cutting edge is at the very end of the scoop. The shape of the cutting edge can vary but the purpose is standard. This is what helps you cut into the soil when you are shoveling.

How to Choose Garden Shovel Materials

Stainless Steel Garden Shovel
Image credits: Gryffyn M via Unsplash

Choosing the right materials for your shovel is important too. Tools made with stainless steel scoops are a popular choice. The sturdiness of stainless steel means it is less likely to bend when you are digging. This metal can also help create clean cuts into the dirt so that digging isn’t as strenuous.

Then, when it comes to the handle, hardwoods are the classic option. Handles made of ash and hickory lend strength to the shovel while giving you enough flexibility and leverage. Alternatively, there is also a wide range of fiberglass and carbon fiber handles available now. If you’re looking for a lightweight shovel, these are a better choice than hardwood. They are also more durable and weather resistant.

You won’t want to forget the handle grip either! After all, this is where you will be holding the shovel. A good grip makes gardening that much easier on your hands. For long-handled shovels look for D-grips. These look like the shape of a letter ‘D’ at the top of the shovel handle. This shape reduces pressure on your wrists because you won’t need to twist as much when digging. For trowels or hand shovels, look for ergonomic grips that sit comfortably in the palm of your hand.

Construction Grade or Solid Shank vs. Hollow Back

soil with shovel
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When shopping around you’re likely to find several types of shovels. Construction grade or solid shank are exceptionally high quality for construction purposes. They can withstand higher pressure where the scoop connects to the handle. If you are digging in compacted or heavy soil or you need to remove large roots solid shank shovels are more durable and a good choice.

For most gardeners though, a hollow back shovel is generally the better option. These shovels have a depression in the back of the shovel. They are lighter than solid shank, still very durable for home gardening projects, and are less tiring to use.

5 Types of Shovels Best For Gardening

With the right shovel in your hand, your garden will be a masterpiece! Discover five types of shovels that are a must for every gardener.

Hand Shovel or Trowel

Hand trowel for gardening
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Hand shovels or trowels are like mini shovels. These shovels are easy to hold and are best for digging close to your garden. Some good projects to tackle with a trowel include weeding, sowing seeds, and planting small flowers or plants. Sometimes trowels also have measurements on the scoop. This can be helpful if you need to measure a certain depth when planting. For instance, if you are planting bulbs, it can help you measure the depth you should plant them at.

Straight-Edge Shovel or Spade

garden tools on display
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A straight-edge shovel also commonly known as a spade is another must for your collection. Straight-edge shovels or spades have a much longer handle than a trowel. You use these garden shovels when standing up which provides more leverage and reduces strain on your back. You can easily spot these shovels by the straight edge of their cutting blade. This makes them great for edging your garden, cutting through stubborn roots in the garden bed, and removing weeds.

While these shovels do have longer handles than a trowel, compared to a rounded-blade digging shovel, they are typically shorter. If you are working close up with plants in your garden, moving loose soil, or don’t need to dig deep, straight-edge shovels are a top choice.

Rounded-Blade Digging Shovel

woman digging with a rounded-edge shovel
Image credits: Anna Tarazevich via Pexels

Rounded-blade shovels are perhaps the most popular type of long-handled shovels. In a pinch, if you only have room to buy one shovel this is the one to start with. Like a straight-edge shovel, the long handles of these tools reduce back strain. At the same time, the long handle offers excellent leverage for digging. Then, digging in your garden becomes even more efficient because of the point at the end of the rounded cutting blade. These shovels are great for projects where you will be doing a lot of digging like when you prepare your garden bed for fall, move compacted soil, or just need to dig more deeply.

Trench Shovels

male gardener digging a hole with a shovel in a vegetable garden
Image credits: Paul Maguire via Shutterstock

Trench shovels look similar to rounded-blade shovels. Just like a rounded-blade shovel, these have a pointed tip. However, the scoop of trench shovels is longer, and the handles have varying lengths. This makes them an excellent choice for moving dirt along a garden border or creating a trench in your garden bed for planting seeds.

Tree Planting Shovels

Gardener planting juniper plants in the yard
Image credits: Maria Sbytova via Shutterstock

Tree planting shovels are another special adaptation. They have a pointed tip and a narrow scoop which offers precision when digging. These are handy garden tools for gardeners that plan to plant small trees or shrubs around their garden.

Get Digging With a Garden Shovel!

The right shovel makes completing your garden projects easy! Keep a selection of garden shovels on hand for the best success. Stock your tool collection with trowels for seeding and planting flowers, add a straight-edge shovel or spade for edging, pick up a rounded-blade digging shovel for digging deep, and don’t forget tools like trench shovels and tree-planting shovels for special projects!

What is your favorite type of garden shovel? Post a comment down below to share your thoughts! Then click the share button to help your friends find the best shovels for their gardens too!