How to use a shovel?

Cost
If there is one tool that I recommend you splurge a bit on then it is when you buy a spade and/or a shovel. This is one tool that you really want to be purchasing ‘for life’. I grew up using the same spade that my Dad bought at a young age. He still owns and uses that spade today. Spades and shovels are one of the most commonly used tools and the jobs they are used for are almost always heavy duty, occasionally being used to ‘shift leaves’. It is for this reason you want a solid spade or shovel without even the smallest bit of plastic. If I have $1 for every time I have been using a spade with a plastic handle, and tried to dig the simplest of holes only to have the handle break then I possibly would not need to run a gardening business! Ok, so that is a bit dramatic but you get the point.

When shopping look for good quality steal or carbon fibre strengthened spades and shovels. Check anywhere there is a joint. Try flexing the handle and ascertaining where you think weak spots might be and how weak they appear under just a small amount of strain.

A good spade or shovel will quite possibly be upwards of $60 but it will be the best $60 you spend on a gardening tool, period.

Aussie Green Thumb garden tool buying guides:
Buying guide: Shears
Buying Guide: Secateurs
Buying Guide: garden rake
Buying Guide: loppers
Buying Guide: garden trowel
Buying Guide: spades and shovels
Buying Guide: pruning saw
Buying guide: garden fork

Contents

So You Want A Better Garden?

All my best articles have been collected into what I’m calling the ultimate gardening toolkit – make sure you take a look, there’s a heap of great gardening advice available. I’ve also published a series of gardening ebooks that you might be interested in. Good luck!

Using Round Point Shovels – How To Use A Round Head Shovel In The Garden

Garden tools are the basis of a beautiful landscape. Each has a unique purpose and design that gives it the maximum amount of utility. A round head shovel is one of the most often used tools when developing a garden. What is a round point shovel used for? Primarily, this tool is used for digging and it is unmatched for effectiveness in that regard. Choosing the right rounded shovel will enhance your abilities to dig but can also have ergonomic design details that will help your back and make the job a whole lot easier.

About the Round Head Shovel

Gardeners know that the right tool, used in the right way, can ensure success on every task. We treasure our tools like a chef treasures his/her knives. Round point shovel uses extend past digging to scooping and are useful in transplanting, trenching, moving compost or mulch and many more applications. Taking care of the tool will extend its life when edges are kept sharp and the shovel clean and dry.

Rounded shovels usually have a beveled edge to help penetrate tough soil situations. They may also have a point to push into soil. The edges are

curved to facilitate scooping. Handles are the height at which most people stand and can be ergonomically angled. Grips are often cushioned to prevent blisters.

These specialized tools are widely available at any big box store or garden center. It is important to choose one which will last. Wooden handled tools often break on big jobs. The attachment of the scoop to the handle should be welded securely. Since it is one of the most popular tools, using round point shovels for many tasks makes it a work horse of the garden. Good construction and sturdy fabrication will make these tasks a little lighter.

What is a Round Point Shovel Used For?

Rounded shovels are a bit like a Ginsu knife. They may not slice, dice and julienne, but they can cut, dig, scoop, lift and chop through hard soil. These are invaluable tools for any gardener.

Taking care of the tool is essential to its long life. Always rinse the shovel and allow it to air dry before putting it away. This prevents rust that will destroy the metal over time. Every spring, bring out the shovel and use a whetstone or hand held file to sharpen the edge. That will make breaking through tough soil much easier. Keep handles dry if wooden and occasionally sand them to remove any splinters. Rub with linseed oil to protect the wood.

When to use a round headed shovel in the garden depends on the task. You can really use a rounded shovel for nearly every digging or cultivating purpose in the landscape. Using round point shovels as transportation devices for such items as mulch, compost, gravel and more, allows you to utilize it as a scoop. Cultivating or turning over the vegetable bed with these shovels is easy and effective too.

Round point shovel uses don’t stop there. In the absence of a trencher, rounded shovels can dig a trench quite easily and also be employed to neaten the edges of a hole or ditch. However you use your shovel, remember to dig with the blade at an angle. This facilitates cuts into soil and minimizes strain. Don’t forget to lift with your knees, not your back, to prevent injury.

17 Different Types of Shovels & Their Uses (with Pictures)

Last Updated: January 24, 2020

If people stopped a second and gave it any thought, they’d probably recognize just how varied the shovel tool family is and just how many things you can do with them. Most people think of them as tools for digging holes but, if pressed, would acknowledge that there are also shovels for moving wood chips. If you live in the North, you use a shovel about half the year when you’re out moving snow. If you work in a garden, you’ve probably got a couple of different kinds of shovels handy.

We’ve examined the shovel family and broken it all down for you. Read on to learn about the many different things shovels can do, and how to go about picking the right one to suit your needs.

17 Different Types of Shovels:

Basic shovels

There are a few shovels that most people have around the house. These are tools that can do most shovel-related domestic jobs, and they’re pretty inexpensive. If you have work that requires something a little more specialized, you’ll want to find a tool for that. If your needs are pretty basic, however, you can probably get by with one of these.

1. Standard shovel

There’s nothing complicated about a basic digging shovel. It’s got a digging blade at the end of a handle. You can use it to complete a number of different shovel-related jobs around the house, even if it’s intended to mostly make holes.

2. Garden trowel

Even people who aren’t into gardening might have a basic trowel lying around. You can use these for potted plants and window planters, or light landscaping work. If you enjoy outdoor activities that include backpacking, you probably have one of these to dig scat holes in the backcountry.

3. Snow shovel

Depending on where you live, a snow shovel is possibly a must-have tool. These scooping-style shovels allow you to pick up piles of snow off the sidewalk to deposit elsewhere. Depending on your annual snowfall, you might want to look at a specific style of tool.

Digging

Shovels are most commonly associated with making holes. These shovels are designed for making specific kinds of holes, from trenches to holes for posts. They have pointed blades to help bite into whatever it is that you need to dig a hole in.

4. Entrenching tool

A staple of military surplus stores, this foldable shovel is perfect to take camping or anywhere else you might need to dig a quick hole or a basic trench. Most models come with a sharp blade for hard dirt and a serrated edge for rudimentary sawing.

5. Trench shovel

Trench shovels are designed to remove loosened up dirt and rock at the bottom of a trench. These aren’t a primary digging tool; you use them to finish off the hard work done with a different, hardier tool.

6. Drain spade

If you’re looking for a landscaping tool designed to dig out a hole to transplant a shrub or a tree, a drain spade is invaluable to have. These are designed for shaping soil rather than moving it, but they’re considered a digging tool because they’re designed to make holes.

7. Post-hole digger

Post-hole diggers are designed to create holes quickly by pushing down into the soil and lifting out the dirt. They look more like two shovels connected together, blade to blade, so that the removal action is akin to pinching and lifting.

Gardening

As gardening involves digging around in the soil, shovels are a natural tool to have. In fact, most gardeners keep a handful of shovels in their inventory for a variety of tasks.

8. Root shovel

The root shovel has a blade to create holes for new plants; it can also cut existing roots from trees and shrubs to make space for new root systems until they can establish themselves.

9. Dixter trowel

The long, narrow blade of the Dixter trowel makes it perfect for digging in hard-to-reach spots and for transplanting bulbs. These trowels were designed by a legendary English gardener for planting seedlings with long root systems like peas.

10. Planting trowel

Characterized by a leaf-shaped, sharp blade designed for cutting through difficult soil, the planting trowel is just perfect for planting bulbs. It’s designed for turning soil close to the surface; its sharp blade can also be used to separate perennials.

11. Transplant spade

If you have trees or shrubs or even rose bushes to place in your yard, the transplant spade is an invaluable tool. With it, you can prepare the soil to introduce your plants into their new home. These spades have a flatter blade than a traditional shovel, making them a very specialized tool.

Scooping

Scooping shovels allow you to pick up a large amount of material to move it around. These are shovels designed for landscaping or moving around sawdust or other small clumps of stuff. You won’t want to dig holes with these, of course.

12. Square point shovel

You can tell a shovel is intended to scoop if the blade is flattened to the point of being squared off. Unlike other shovels in this family, these aren’t necessarily designed to handle volume. They are small enough that they can double as a sorting tool while also lifting away debris.

13. Scoop shovel

You can identify a scoop shovel by its short handle and big blade with rigid edges, which is intended to support lifting large amounts of debris, dirt, wood chips, etc. and move it away. These shovels won’t help you dig a hole, but if you have to move the dirt you dig out of one, they can do that.

14. Mulch scoop

Every landscaper has a mulch scoop. These are designed to help move and spread mulch, which sets them apart from ordinary scoop shovels. The most noticeable difference is that their handles tend to be a bit longer.

Snow Shovels

The further south you live, the less need you have for one of these. If you live where there’s a lot of snow, different kinds of snow shovels can come in handy. There are models designed to ease the physical burden on your body, and some are designed to help you chip away ice as well as scoop up snow.

15. Stainless steel shovel

While basic snow shovels are made out of plastic or aluminum, a stainless steel shovel is built to last. It’s a bit heavier than a normal snow shovel. On the other hand, it’s also strong enough that you can chip away patches of ice from your sidewalk and driveway.

16. Ergonomic shovel

A great innovation, this tool helps spare the backs of people with lots of concrete to shovel. An ergonomic shovel transfers a lot of the hard work from your body to the shovel itself. These generally have big scoops to take advantage of their design.

17. Folding snow shovel

When snow starts to fall, a major concern for every motorist is running into a snowdrift that is too much for their car to handle. A folding shovel is an invaluable part of every car’s survival kit since moving snow from under your car’s suspension could make it possible for you to get home.

Here are some of our other articles like this one:

  • 18 Different Types of Nail Guns & Their Uses
  • 12 Different Types of Sanders & Their Uses

Need a shovel? Hold on there digger. There’s more than just one type of shovel. We set out the 11 different types of shovels here. Make sure you get the right one for your digging needs.

Last summer I did a LOT of digging with my 6 and 2 year old boys. Our backyard suffers from a chafer beetle outbreak and while this wreaks havoc on lawns and is difficult to remedy, it’s a blessing in disguise for use.

Instead of trying to fix the problem, we took advantage of it by creating a massive dirt area where my boys can dig and make tunnels and mountains of dirt as much as they want.

And dig they do. They rope me in on the fun too. In order to have all this fun, I went out and bought us all new shovels; full size one for me and kid-sized shovels for them (but their real shovels with steel blade and all). While shopping for shovels, I learned that there are many different types of shovels.

I did more research and got my custom graphics team to create a fantastic graphic setting out shovel options below.

Shovel Buying Guide

You can use shovels for a variety of tasks around the home, from planting a new garden to digging trenches for irrigation and piping to shovelling snow from your sidewalks and driveways.

But, what type of shovel do you need for the job? Our shovel buying guide can help point you in the right direction to understanding the different types of shovels and choosing the one that best fits your project.

Also, you can check out the main parts of a shovel here.

A. Types of Shovels Diagram (Overview)

B. Types of Shovels Explained in Detail

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Now, we’ll move onto the many types of shovels you can find, how they differ, and what jobs they usually work best for.

1. Digging

Shovels meant for digging have a somewhat sharp blade that can cut through soil and other materials. This type of shovel usually has a reinforced collar and a non-slip grip to help you apply force into the ground and remove heavy loads of soil.

They can have a range of blade shapes, with the most common being square, pointed, and round.

2. Square

Source: Amazon

Square diggers have a blade with a flat end, rather than pointed. This shovel can come in handy for edging and trenching tasks or moving small shrubs and bushes.

The square edge of the digger is perfect for digging into hard soil, so it can be ideal for people who live in dry areas with compact grounds.

3. Pointed

Source: Amazon

Pointed diggers have blades that come to a point at the end. This type of blade can work well in loosely-packed soils that may have dense root systems or rocks.

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Pointed shovels have a more curved blade than square diggers, so you might be able to scoop soil more efficiently with this digger.

4. Round

Source: Amazon

Rounded diggers have curved blades with a domed end, rather than pointed. This shovel is ideal for transplanting shrubs or flowers in the garden since its curved end doesn’t penetrate through root systems easily and can prevent damage to the plants.

Round diggers work best in loose soil.

5. Edging

🔥 TIP: !

Source: Amazon

An edging shovel is specific for creating edges in the garden. The blade is a half-moon shape that looks significantly different than those of other shovels, so it’s easy to tell them apart.

The blade of an edging shovel is also flat and thin so that you can maneuver it along sidewalks, fences, driveways, garden borders, and anywhere else you need to create a perfect edge.

6. Mini or Handheld

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Source: Amazon

Mini shovels are small enough to hold in your hand, which is why they’re sometimes referred to as handheld shovels. They’re ideal for small gardening projects, like planting herbs and flowers or digging for small garden fencing.

A mini shovel can range in shapes and sizes, but most are no longer than a foot and have pointed blades that dig into the soil. Most minis also have grips for comfort while you work and to prevent the tool from slipping in your hands.

7. Post Hole

Source: Amazon

Post hole shovels sometimes referred to as post hole diggers, are ideal for digging narrow holes that you’d need for signposts or fence posts. Some people use them for planting tree seedlings too.

The post hole shovel has two shovels combined into one, with two blades, shafts, and handles. You use force to move the digger into the ground, and then pull apart the handles to close the blades, which will then pull up the dirt with them.

This video demonstrates how to use a post hole digger:

8. Power

Source: Amazon

Power shovels are somewhat of a cross between a snow blower and a shovel. People tend to use these handy little machines for snow removal when a snow blower isn’t necessary. Power shovels usually cost less than $100 and are lightweight and portable.

The body of this tool resembles a weed wacker body, while the bottom consists of a motor and blades that spin to move snow. Some power shovels can dig into the dirt, making them especially useful for moving hard-packed ground.

To get an idea of how this shovel works, you can check out this video:

9. Scoop or Snow

Source: Amazon

People usually refer to a scoop shovel as a snow shovel, as that’s what they often use them for. Scoop shovels have a curved blade that can be at least a foot wide and are ideal for scooping materials to place somewhere else, rather than digging into the dirt.

Gardeners or landscapers can use scoop shovels for moving things like mulch, gravel, stones, and soil to other places in the garden. Wide scoops are ideal for clearing snow off sidewalks and driveways because the wide width allows you to clear more snow in less time.

10. Tree Planting

Source: Amazon

Believe it or not, there’s even a specific shovel for planting trees. The blade of these shovels is longer and narrower than others, allowing you to dig deep into the ground with the blade.

The shaft length of these shovels varies a lot, depending on where you’re digging. Long-shafted tree shovels are ideal for planting large saplings on flat surfaces, while a short shaft can give you the proper leverage for planting on hills and slopes with smaller saplings.

11. Trench

Source: Amazon

A trenching shovel has a unique shape that makes it easy to distinguish from others. The blade is long and narrow, much like a tree planting shovel, but with a pointed end and a concave design that forms a triangle shape in the blade.

The blade usually sits on the shaft at an angle, which you can sometimes adjust to meet the needs of your trench. This design puts the blade at an angle under the ground to help scoop and move dirt to create a trench.

You can create trenches with this tool by digging it into the ground and moving it along the desired path as it scrapes through the ground.

D. More Details

Finding the perfect shovel for your job is your first task. Below are a few pointers that can help you narrow your options further to find the best tool for the job.

We’ll also talk about ways you can clean and maintain your shovel to make it last for years to come and how to shovel correctly to prevent strain and injury to yourself.

1. Spade versus Shovel

Source: Amazon

Although a spade and shovel are two terms that many people use interchangeably, they are two different tools. It’s important to note their differences in looks and usage before you go on the hunt for the best tool.

A spade is what most people consider a flat shovel. It has a flat tip, rather than pointed, and a somewhat concave design that helps it perform as both a digger and a scooper. The edge of a spade is sharp, which helps it cut through tough materials, like heavily-packed soil or rocks.

Like shovels, spades often have a step to let you use some force from your legs to break through the ground for heavy-duty jobs. They also come in a variety of sizes, materials, and blade shapes, some narrow and some wide, to complete different tasks, like trenching.

A spade’s main purpose is to dig and transfer dug materials, but you use a shovel for scooping and moving materials mostly. However, as you can see from our descriptions above, many shovels have morphed into a combination of shovel and spade, creating versatile tools that you can use for several landscaping and gardening tasks.

2. Shovel Materials

Almost any type of shovel blade can consist of different materials, from plastic to hard metals. The shaft, too, can range from plastic or aluminum to wood or fiberglass. What material is best for you?

Plastic and aluminum parts tend to make a shovel less expensive. But, these materials are also subject to quicker breakdown over time from rust, weather, and usage.

Steel blades are incredibly durable and treated versions can resist rust and other damage from wet conditions, but these blades will hike the price up more than plastic or aluminum blades.

A wooden shaft is one of the more common types you’ll see because it’s durable and has a pleasant appearance. A fiberglass shaft can also be a good option, though, since it’s lighter weight than wood and is more resistant to weathering.

3. Intended Weight

The shovel you purchase should have a proposed weight capacity marked on it, usually on its label. This number is critical to adhere to, as lifting anything more than the intended weight can break the shovel or even cause you injury.

Snow, for example, can weigh about 20 lbs. per cubic foot. If you have an inexpensive plastic shovel whose manufacturer only intended for it to hold about ten pounds at a time, you won’t be able to get much snow shoveling done.

On the other hand, a heavy-duty shovel with a steel blade and shaft that can hold up to 100 lbs. can help you move more snow at a quicker pace.

The intended weight also refers to the shovel’s ability to prevent injury. Shovels have specific designs that can help position you to avoid strain on your back, arms, legs, and neck. Those without an ergonomic design may have a warning not to lift over a specific weight so that you can keep yourself safe.

4. Priming, Cleaning and Maintaining Your Shovel

Your purchase should last as long as you need it to, but you can help extend the life of your shovel by priming it before you use it, cleaning it after, and maintaining it during and after the season.

Priming your shovel helps it glide through materials easily and is a technique people use most often for snow shovels. Priming prevents things like dirt and snow from sticking to the shovel, which makes for easy cleanup later. Use a coating agent, like WD40, on steel blades before using them.

Every time you’re done using your shovel, regardless of the task, be sure to clean it before storing it. You’ll help prevent materials from sticking to the blade and rusting it over time.

Before storing the shovel during the off-season, you can use a wood oil on wooden shafts and a file to sharpen dull blades.

5. Safety First: Digging the Correct Way

Using a shovel the right way can be the difference between straining your back and feeling fine when you’re done.

When you dig or scoop, you should remember to bend at your knees and use the power of your legs as much as possible, rather than your arms and back. In fact, this is the reason that many shovels have steps to rest your feet on and use for more force!

When you’re ready to lift dirt or other materials with your shovel, bend at the knees and lift rather than bending at your waist, which can put excessive strain on your back muscles and spine.

Remember, too, that if you’re going to be digging and transporting heavy materials with your shovel, you should use safety boots with steel toes to protect your feet. A pair of gripping gloves can also come in handy if you use a shovel without a grip.

E. Where to Buy Shovels Online

We hope that this guide helped you learn about the numerous types of shovels on the market and how you can use them to your benefit. If you’d like to purchase one from an online retailer, we suggest browsing the options on the following websites, which have a wide range of shovels to choose from:

  • Amazon.com
  • Lowe’s
  • Home Depot

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Tags: Tools Categories: Gardens and Landscaping
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Do you know what you’re digging with? Many people don’t know that shovels and spades are actually two different tools with different uses. There are so many garden tools out there that it can be overwhelming and hard to know which tools to use for which jobs, but if you know how to choose the right tools, your garden and landscaping projects will be significantly easier on your body and everything will go more smoothly.

This guide will teach you how to tell the difference between shovels and spades, how to properly use them, and which tool to pick for which job.

Disclosure: this post has been sponsored by A.M. Leonard’s Gardener’s Edge who also provided me with the shovels and spades to try. And they want you to try them too! Be sure to check out how you can get your hands on the shovel or spade of your dreams from Gardener’s Edge at the end of this post. All opinions within the post remain my own.

What’s the Difference?

So, what is the difference between a shovel and a spade? A spade is shorter and has a flat blade, while a shovel is longer, angled, and its blade is curved into more of a scoop.

Shovels are better for digging up, breaking apart, and lifting soil as well as for scooping and moving loose materials.

Spades are best for cutting into sod, edging, or digging trenches—anything that requires a sharp, straight edge.

Proper Use

When working with digging tools like this, be sure to wear appropriate footwear (no flip flops!). For both spades and shovels, the basic technique is to insert the blade into the ground, using one foot to push down on the ledge at the top of the blade, called the “step.”

Shovels should be inserted into the ground at an angle and pushed slightly forward, while spades should be pushed into the ground vertically to create a straight edge.

As with any outdoor work, use your common sense and be mindful of the heat, stay hydrated, stretch, and take breaks.

Parts of a Spade and Shovel

Shovels and spades are made of similar basic parts—the handle, step, and blade—but they have subtle variances which might not look like much at first, but make all the difference in what these tools can do.

Handle

Spade: shorter, straight handle with a D or T grip at the top to make it easy to hold.

Shovel: long, upward-angled handle, often no grip at the top since shovels are usually held by the handle at an angle, not by the very top. Shovels do frequently have some type of padding around the upper section of the handle to make holding it more comfortable.

Step

Spade: small ledge on top of the blade on either side of the handle, so that you can rest your foot on it and press down into the soil with the strength of your leg.

Shovel: smaller or no step ledge, as shovels are not intended for the type of work that requires as much extra force of a foot on the blade (such as edging) and a bulky step would get in the way when scooping and lifting material at an angle.

Blade

Spade: flat blade with a square-shaped end.

Shovel: curved, bowl-shaped blade, usually rounded or pointed at the end, but shovels with square-shaped blades are available as well.

Keep in mind that there are many different blade weights, which will dramatically change the experience of handling a shovel or spade. Professional-grade shovels can get very heavy, which means that they are great for heavy lifting but can also be difficult to use. Lighter shovels are less powerful, but are much more usable for many and are a good choice for those with limited abilities.

Try out the different weights and see what feels comfortable to you—I personally prefer a lighter shovel, while my partner prefers a heavier one.

For more info on blade weight and handle types, watch this video:

Types of Shovels and Spades for the Home Garden

Leonard Forged Round Point Shovel with 30in Ash D-Grip Handle

Lightweight and easy to use as well as affordable, the ash handle is very durable, and the deeply scooped blade makes it ideal for lifting and moving loose material.

Leonard Forged Round Point Shovel with 48in Fiberglass Handle

This shovel is quite heavy, so it is not suitable for everyone, but if you like a heavier shovel this one is very powerful and will last forever (it even comes with a lifetime warranty). The strong fiberglass handle is angled at a high lift, so you won’t have to bend too far when you’re digging, which will reduce strain on your back.

Leonard Poly Scoop Shovel with Extended D Grip Handle

Great for scooping up gravel and other loose materials and clearing away snow. The poly material is weather resistant and won’t rust or damage surfaces (so you can use it on your deck without worrying about scratches). This shovel also has an extended, lifted handle to help save your back while you scoop.

Shortie Transplant Spade

At just 26” tall, this little spade can do big things. It is perfect for transplanting those plants that are too big for a hand trowel, and it is also a lifesaver for dividing plants, stripping sod, and other projects that require some precision.

Leonard Classic Full Strap Spade with Foot Pad

This is a great basic spade. The beveled edge of the blade is crafted specifically so that it doesn’t require sharpening, so this tool is very low maintenance. It is durable, strong, and has a large step and foot pad to cushion your foot and reduce strain.

Root Assassin Shovel and Saw

The Root Assassin is a small, tapered shovel with saw teeth on either side of the blade that work to cut through roots while you dig. It is great for digging trenches and digging in areas that are overgrown with roots. The padded D-grip handle makes it comfortable to hold and easy to maneuver.

Giveaway!

Pick a shovel, any shovel (or spade). Gardener’s Edge has generously agreed to GIVE AWAY the shovel or spade of your dreams! The winner of this contest was Kay. Congratulations, Kay!

This article may contain links which lead to us earning commissions at no extra cost to you.

When you need to dig a hole, you just grab a shovel, and one is as good as another, right? Wrong! There are actually a lot of types of shovel, each designed for a different purpose. The shape of the blade helps make it work well for a particular task. The size of the handle is about more than convenience; it gives the right leverage for the job.

Looking for snow shovels? Find them here!

From trowels to trenching shovels, there are all sizes and styles of tools that fall into the general category of shovels. Several of them are going to be of use for your yard and garden work. But what are the different types and what are they built for?

Nowadays, “shovel” and “spade” are used interchangeably. There’s a technical difference but in common usage, it’s rare to see them consistently used correctly. Even major companies use them as if they were the same thing. Still, we’ll explain the difference even though you’ll see later on how hard it is to keep them straight.

A shovel generally has a longer handle than a spade. Also, the blade is “deeper”, more like a scoop. This lets it hold more dirt or other material. That makes the shovel ideal for moving dirt or other material. An easier way to remember it might be that “shovel” and “move” have three letters in common.

A spade, on the other hand, has a flatter blade and a shorter handle. It is designed for digging and breaking up soil or other material. Since the edge is flat, it’s also great for creating a straight edge. A spade often has a “D” or “T”-shaped handle.

The blade of either a shovel or a spade can be square, rounded, or pointed.

A trowel is a smaller tool used for gardening. It has a curved blade like a shovel to help move soil but also is good for breaking up the ground on a small scale.

Breakdown of Shovels, Trowels, And Spades

Beyond these general categories, there are more specific types of shovels and spades that you’ll come across. While you can often make do with the “wrong” type for your project, using the right one will make things go more quickly and easily.

Garden Spade

As its name implies, the garden spade is your most basic digging tool for your yard and garden – even though it’s often called a garden shovel. Generally, a garden spade or shovel is short-handled with a D-handle. It also has a relatively flat blade.

Read our reviews of the best garden spades!

The tool is perfect for turning over soil and breaking up small roots as you go. Since the blade is almost flat, it will also mark great and even edges to your garden bed. It’s also great for edging along the sidewalk or driveway.

Transplanting spade

When you need to move a plant from one location to another, a transplant spade is your best bet.

This tool often has a shorter handle than shovels and even than spades. However, the blade is long and narrow so that it can get all the way under the roots of a plant. The slightly-curved blade will help hold the root system as you move it to your wheelbarrow or directly to its new location.

Find out the best time to plant your vegetables!

Scoop shovel

The scoop shovel has the deepest curve to the blade. That means it can hold more of whatever you need to move.

If you have to transfer large quantities of soil or gravel, this is the best choice, since each shovelful will contain more material. It can also be fantastic to help load compost into your wheelbarrow.

Trenching shovel

A trenching shovel is not as commonly needed for the average homeowner, but can come in handy in certain situations. As the name implies, it’s the perfect tool for digging small trenches or ditches.

The blade is square but narrow, allowing you to reach hard-to-get-to spaces. It can work like a transplanting shovel. But it’s best if you have to create routes for water to flow, either for irrigation or for drainage.

Trowel

A trowel is a small tool that you’ll usually be using at the level of individual small plants. The blade is usually about 6 inches long and 2 – 3 inches wide.

You’ll likely be using this for the nitty-gritty work of your gardening. It’s helpful for weeding, transplanting small plants, and breaking up tiny roots.

There are many other types of shovel out there, too, but these are the main ones you may need. There are also two “styles” that you’ll come across. Each has its own advantages. Many other types of shovel and spade can fall into either a square point or round point.

Best Garden Trowels Reviewed!

Square Point

Almost all spades have a square point, but some shovels do, as well. These are perfect for creating sharp edges. They’re also good for getting work done more quickly since they can turn over more dirt more quickly.

Round Point

Sometimes, though, you might have to cut through roots or harder, drier soil. That’s where a round point shovel can come in handy. The narrow edge can help penetrate tougher material. Some are more pointed than rounded and even more effective of breaking up clumps of soil, roots, or other harder obstacles.

Conclusion

A basic garden shovel or spade and a trowel will serve most of your gardening and lawn-care needs. But there are other types of shovel, too, and knowing what they are and what they’re good for can help you with various projects. Choosing the right tool for the right job will provide better results and lessen the work involved!

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When you think of a shovel, you likely picture a square or pointed surface attached to a handle, and give no further thought. However, such a simple concept actually has quite a few variations and is not only one of the most versatile tools out there, but one of the most specialized at the same time.

Technically, even the spoon you eat your soup with is a type of shovel! Food aside, here are 35 different kinds of shovel to give you a feel for just how diverse this tool’s uses and designs really are.

See Also: 12 Different Types of Sanders

Table of Contents

Types of Shovel

Coal Shovel

These short-handled shovels have a sturdy, square-tipped blade and are designed for moving coal and other gravel-like materials.

The back of the blade may be square or slightly curved, and the sides and back all curve up to form containing walls to hold more material. The flat bottom of the blade may also be used for smoothing gravel surfaces.

D-Handle Shovel

This actually describes a grip variant more than a particular type of shovel. Shovels with a D-handle tend to have a shorter handle length with the end terminating in a D-shaped metal or plastic grip.

This grip improves control, maneuverability, and stability. As a result, many garden-oriented shovels and heavy-duty shovels such as coal shovels will tend to be D-handled models.

Digging Shovel

The term “digging shovel” refers to a shovel that has a sharp cutting edge designed to pierce tougher ground.

The collars on digging shovels tend to be reinforced and most will also have a non-slip or non-standard handle (such as a D-grip or T-grip).

Edging Shovel

Edging shovels have a smooth, flat blade with flat edges. It’s generally made thinner material than a spade and may include depth markings along the blade.

These tools provide a clean, precise cut along the borders of gardens and lawns.

Ergonomic Shovel

Also known as: bent handle shovel

Ergonomic shovels have a bent shaft to reduce strain on the back. They usually include a D-handle and are most often seen on snow shovels.

While these shovels are better for those who suffer from back problems, they have very poor lifting power, requiring more effort to lift debris over a high bank.

Instead, the shovel is best used for plowing across a surface, rather than wholesale removal.

Fireplace Shovel

Part of a fire iron set, this is a flat spade with steep sides and back, making it resemble a long-handled scoop. As the name implies, it’s used to remove coals or debris from the fireplace.

Flat Shovel

Also known as: flat nose shovel, spade

A flat shovel, or spade, is a shovel that has a flat cutting edge. These are less efficient at digging but provide superior scooping and moving power. They are also better at cutting straight edges in sod or other surface materials.

Folding Shovel

Also known as: camping shovel, portable shovel

As the name implies, a folding shovel is designed to fold where the blade meets the shaft (sometimes also at a second point along the shaft) and lock into an open, closed, or (sometimes) 90 degree position.

These small shovels either have a standard or triangular grip and are perfect for camping or emergency use. Some variants also come with a pick tool.

Note that they sometimes have the nickname “trenching shovel” due to their military use in digging trenches, but should not be confused with the actual trenching shovel.

Garden Shovel

Also known as: garden spade, garden trowel, hand shovel, hand trowel

A garden shovel is a small, short-handled gardening tool often erroneously called a garden spade. They have a pointed cutting edge and tend to have a V-shaped or rounded blade to improve scooping.

Grain Shovel

Also known as: barn shovel, grain scoop shovel

This is a type of scoop shovel designed specifically for moving grain and other tiny granular materials.

Gravel Shovel

Also known as: rock shovel

Gravel Shovels usually have a spade edge, although some have rounded tips. The blade is either scoop or spoon-shaped to help with the lifting and transportation of various types of gravel or small stone materials.

Half Moon Shovel

Shovels with a semi-circular blade are known as half-moon shovels. These tools are most often used for edging work.

The sharp blade allows for easy cutting and shaping of grass or sod by simply rocking the blade back and forth.

Military Shovel

Also known as: survival shovel, tactical shovel

Alton Brown used to always say a product designed to perform only one function was worthless. This type of shovel is known as the Swiss army knife of the shoveling world.

They vary greatly in the details, but the blades are usually designed to dig, cut, chop, and/or saw. Some come with shaft extensions and many have the ability to fold for easy transport.

Measuring Shovel

Invented by Maddox Prichard, the Measuring Shovel is not yet in production (as of early 2020), yet has already won several awards, and was co-funded by two members of Shark Tank in November 2019.

The blade and shaft of this tool include precise length and depth measurements to allow for accurate sizing and spacing of holes when planting trees and shrubs.

The tool is planned to be licensed out to a major tool company, possibly Stanley or Black+Decker and may be available as early as 2021 once a licensing deal is cemented.

Related: 5 Parts of a Tape Measure

Metal Detecting Shovel

The hobby of metal detecting often leads to minor finds, but can also result in finding buried treasures such as ancient coins. The shovels used for this task vary in details but tend to have a few overall requirements.

First, they have pointed cutting edges. Second, one or both sides will have a serrated edge which helps in cutting roots. Third, the blade will generally be V-shaped with no curvature to allow for very precise digging.

Mini Shovel

As the name implies, a mini shovel is a smaller, more portable version of a full-sized shovel. They may have the ability to fold, such as camping shovels, or have a solid design.

Mulch Shovel

A mulch shovel is a type of scoop similar to a grain shovel. However, the blade curves up towards the collar instead of having an angled rear wall.

This lightweight shovel makes getting scoopfuls of mulch out of a wheelbarrow and spreading large clumps on the ground easy.

Non-Sparking Shovel

As the name implies, these are a special type of shovel designed to remove contaminated or volatile debris without creating a spark.

Made of heavy duty plastic or aluminum bronze, these are essential tools for firefighters and other rescue workers who may need to excavate trapped victims in an area where flammable liquid or gas is present.

Pizza Shovel

Also known as: pizza peel

Traditionally made of wood, a pizza shovel is a flat square board and handle used to slide pizza in and out of a brick oven.

Some modern versions use a metal blade, but this is one of the niches where a wooden shovel is preferred.

Post Hole Shovel

Also known as: post hole digger

A form of double shovel, the blades are rectangular with often rounded corners and a semi-cylindrical design. They’re designed specifically to create rounded holes in which to insert poles and posts.

Power Shovel

Also known as: electric snow shovel, excavator

There are actually two different variations. The first is what is essentially a powered snow shovel. Available in gas and electric models, a power shovel works similar to their much larger snowblower counterparts. By turning a horizontal auger, it sucks up snow in its path and discharges it out of the way.

A power shovel is also a piece of excavating equipment comprising of treads, a cabin and engine assembly, boom, lever arm, and shovel bucket. These are most commonly used in large-scale removal of material and generally shifts the debris to a dump truck or debris pile.

Roof Snow Shovel

Also known as: roof rake, roof snow rake

These wide curved-blade shovels function quite differently from normal snow shovels. The handle is attached to the top of the blade, allowing the user to pull snow along the roof’s surface.

Roofing Shovel

Also known as: shingle shovel

These are generally square-bladed tools with a toothed cutting edge. This edge allows them to be slid under old shingles and dislodge the nails, as opposed to other shingle removing tools which leave the nails behind.

Scoop Shovel

Just as the name implies, the scoop shovel is a scoop with a long shaft and handle. The blade has a flat edge and tall sides with a curved back wall. It’s primarily used for the lifting and transportation of materials.

Serrated Shovel

Also known as: Root Assassin, root cutting shovel, Root Slayer

Perfect for cutting away at roots, the serrated edge of the blade is usually along the cutting edge but may also have it along one side.

Popular brands, such as the Root Slayer, have extra-sharp edges and are further designed to be efficient at cutting roots.

Snow Shovel

One of the most common forms of spade on the market, snow shovels have a wide blade which is curved vertically and often includes ridges or grooves to aid in shifting large amounts of snow.

They come in a wider range of materials than most types of shovel, from plastic blades and wooden shafts to all-aluminum construction. Snow shovels have some ability to lift but tend to work best as a form of plow.

Sod Shovel

Also known as: sod lifter

This is a type of half-moon shovel with an angled collar to allow the user to get under a section of sod and lift it away from the underlying soil.

The blade often curves further back along the edges, giving it more of a crescent moon appearance.

Spoon Shovel

A spoon shovel is often 8, 10, or 12 feet long and is used to clear mud, water, and backfill from sewers and manholes. They’re ideal for removing debris in deep, narrow holes and tight spaces.

Square Shovel

Also known as: square-point shovel, transfer shovel

These are a form of spade with steep walls and back on the blade. They’re poorly designed for digging but are perfect for scooping and transporting loose materials.

T-Handle Shovel

This form of handle employs a cross beam at the end of the shaft. This allows for both hands to push down on the shovel while applying pressure to the step, making the overall diffing power of these shovels greater than most other models. They’re not as efficient at lifting as a D-handle and are usually paired with rounded tips.

Tile Shovel

Also known as: trowel

An entire sub-class of trowel, the tile shovel has a flat, square blade with the handle attached to the back. The blade is designed to scoop, spread, and smooth mortar or plaster. Depending on the specific model, they may be used for tile, brick, or a variety of other masonry jobs.

Note that trowels also include a second sub-class which have pointed, bowled blades and more closely resemble miniature shovels.

Toy Shovel

Also known as: plastic shovel

These little spades and shovels are made of plastic and designed to be used by children in sandboxes or at the beach. They often come in sets with plastic pails.

Tree Planting Shovel

These pointed shovels have a more narrow blade to help size the hole. By cutting down on four sides, the shovel can easily break up and scoop out the debris.

These shovels perform the same job that would normally require a few different shovels to efficiently complete and are similar enough to trenching shovels that they may be used in a similar fashion when planting rows of shrubs instead of creating individual holes for each plant.

Trenching Shovel

Also known as: ditch shovel, trenching spade

Designed specifically for digging trenches, these shovels feature a narrow rectangular blade with a pointed cutting edge. The length of the shaft varies and the blade is set at an angle to allow for maximum efficiency.

Trenching shovels are used in a wide range of projects such as irrigation ditches and laying pipe.

Wooden Shovel

One of the more seemingly obsolete types of shovel, wooden shovels still have use in various fields such as barley malting where a metal blade may damage surfaces.

These tools are often made from a single piece of wood and can be quite sturdy when properly cared for.

Parts of a Shovel

Despite their simplistic appearance, shovels have had centuries of development and can be quite the complicated topic. Here are some popular sticking points regarding shovel design to help you become a shovel pro.

You may have thought a shovel only has two parts, but there are actually six major parts that make up a shovel. Knowing these parts and what they do makes it easier to find a shovel that’s right for your needs.

Blade

This is the big part at the end of a shovel that’s used for digging. The shape may be squared, curved, or pointed. It may also have a curved or flat surface.

Cutting Edge/Tip

The cutting edge is the part of the blade which strikes the ground. Pointed tips are perfect for breaking hardened surfaces while square-tipped edges are best for scooping up loose materials. The cutting edge may be sharp or dull, depending upon the shovel’s function.

Handle (AKA Grip)

There are four major types of grip, D-handle, standard, T-handle, and triangular. Each grip has its own benefits and affects how well a shovel functions in a specific task.

Shaft

The haft is the non-grip portion of a handle. This may be long or short, depending on the type of shovel. Long-handled shovels often round the shaft instead of adding a shaped handle. This is known as a standard handle.

Socket (AKA Collar)

The socket is the junction of the blade and shaft. In some cases, it’s a single piece connected to the blade and the shaft is inserted. In other cases, it may be a separate piece that connects the shaft and blade, sometimes with a hollow portion intentionally left at the end of the shaft.

Step

The back of the blade will often (but not always) have a flattened surface. This step allows the user to place their shoe on the back to add their body weight to the pressure being exerted on especially tough surfaces.

See Also: 8 Parts of a Hammer

Shovel vs Spade

As crazy as it sounds, people frequently get spades and shovels backwards. The key difference is the cutting edge, but spades actually are the ones with the flat tip, not the pointed or curved tip as one would expect.

Spades are primarily used for gardening tasks, such cutting edges and borders or loosening topsoil. They may or may not have a D-handle.

Meanwhile, the shovel is designed to create holes in the ground. The curved or pointed tips allow a shovel to get deeper into solid ground. The blade tends to be more bowl-shaped or recess deeper near the socket, making them better at hauling materials.

Of course, the two terms are generally used interchangeably, so the next time you play cards, calling out the “Ace of Shovels” isn’t necessary.

Shovel Materials

Just as shovels vary greatly in design, the materials used may also vary to a large degree. The blade is most commonly made of steel, aluminum, or a hard plastic. Primitive technology shovels use a scapula (shoulder bone) of an animal or stone.

A shovel’s shaft is more commonly made of ash, maple, oak, fiberglass, or aluminum (usually hollow). Wooden shovels will use a single piece of wood for both the shaft and blade. Handles may be wood, aluminum, or a combination of wood, metal, and/or plastic.

Think about the function of your shovel when choosing the materials, especially the blade and collar assembly. Heavy duty shovels are best made of steel with a wood metal shaft.

Delicate or food materials are better served by an all-wooden design. Meanwhile, snow shovels work best from a lightweight design provided by an aluminum or plastic blade and aluminum or fiberglass shaft.

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If you have a garden or field, you must have at least used a shovel at least once. If you have used more than one type of shovels, you’ll know there is a huge difference in terms of durability, performance, and comfort. This is where the tricky part comes. Choosing the right and the best shovel that suits you and your work is hard because there are thousands of products in the market. They all have different attributes.

Generally, people don’t know whether to buy a long or short shovel, what kind of material, and which shape of blades. If you feel like you have this problem, don’t worry, this article will help you to choose the right garden shovel for you.

Image Product Name Price Rating
Fiskars Long Handle Digging Shovel (9668) $$ A+
Bond LH015 Mini D Handle Shovel $ A
Ames True Temper 1564400 Round Point True American D Shaped Wood Handle Shovel $$ B
Rose Kuli® Folding Shovels Handle Shovel and Pick $ A
Bully Tools 82515 14-Gauge Round Point Shovel with Fiberglass Long Handle $$$$ B
Seymour S710 48-Inch Long Fiberglass Handle Notched Super Shovel Round Point $$$$$ A

Our Pick for the Best Shovel

Fiskars Long Handle Digging Shovel (9668)

Fiskars is known for is high-quality tools with an affordable price, and this shovel is no difference. Its long, durable, steel handle is perfect for heavy-duty work. This shovel will last for a very long time. For all the advantages, we decide that Fiskars Long Handle Digging Shovel is the top pick.

Check the price on Amazon ›

Choosing the Right Shovel

First, you need to first understand what a shovel is and how it’s different to a spade.

Basically, a shovel is a tool used for digging, lifting, or moving material from one position to the next. It can be helpful with many different materials, but for now, we’re focusing on dirt and soil in your field and backyard.

Spade is a lot different than a shovel, regardless of what people say. Spade is designed with a pointy sharp edge that is used strictly to break rough material, like concrete, that can be lifted later on by a shovel. Some people also use spades to move materials, although it may not be as effective as a shovel. You can see the difference in a glance between a shovel and a spade from its blade; shovel’s blade is angled while spade’s blade is straight (but sharper).

Now that you know the difference, let’s talk strictly about spade.

Do you need a short handle or a long handle shovel? This question is an important one to ask yourself, and the answer lies within the tasks you’re trying to accomplish in your field. Choosing the right length will help you to work efficiently and keep your body safe throughout the whole process. There are a few differences between the short and long handle, the table below shows the advantages and disadvantages of each shovel type:

Long Handle Shovel Short Handle Shovel
Advantages Disadvantages Advantages Disadvantages
1. Leverage
2. More strength
1. Break easily
2. More expensive
1. Good for limited workspace
2. Easy to store
3. Cheaper
1. Holds small amount
2. Back strain

Other than the length, there are more features that you should look at while trying to purchase a suitable shovel for you. Remember, there is no such thing as a good or bad shovel, it is all about your needs and how you’re going to use it. Here are different features to look for in a shovel:

1. Handle Design

There are two of the most common handle types which are the “T” and the “D” grip (and without handles). Like stated earlier, there is no better design but it is all up to you and how you use and lift your shovel. Some people find the “T” grip to be more suitable while others can’t live without the “D” grip. It’s a matter of preference. Make sure you try both before purchasing. In addition, try to look for a shovel with a round blade as this design helps you to find a place to rest your feet on the shovel while trying to fit it in the ground for the digging process.

2. Durability

Most shovel’s blades are made of forged and the stamped steel blades. It is not a hard decision but the forged steel has proven to be the most durable type for the blades. If the shovel is tempered, that would a good add-on for the tool, but it must be pricier. Stainless steel is another option for your blade as it will not rust, however, you might not find it worth it to trade extra money for the look.

There are other materials for the blade such as plastic and aluminum, but both are mostly used to lift lighter material like sand or snow.

3. Handle Material

Now let us discuss the material of the handle. Handle is where you hold the shovel from, as mentioned previously, there are D and T type of handle. Most handles are made from wood as it is the most commercially appealing to the people and soft to touch. But, it is heavier. The other common type is the fiberglass which is way lighter than wood and definitely stronger and more durable than wood but also more expensive.

4. Overall Size

There is a wide range of sizes from short to long handles to huge gigantic shovels. However, picking the right size relies on two aspects. The first is your own size. If you’re a tall mid-aged guy with a lot of power in you, buying the biggest size is the right thing to do. On the other hand if you’re an older person or with less strength, then buying a smaller size is more efficient. It shouldn’t be hard finding the right size for you.

The other aspect that affects your decision is the job you intended to do. If you are working with a lot of material to move, you should definitely choose a bigger blade size so you can lift more. But again, don’t ignore your own size and strength.

The Best Shovels on the Market

Now, this is my favorite part of the article. We have discussed the shovel as the most important tool used at any site. We also have discussed the different features that you should consider while choosing the right shovel for you. Next, here’s a list of the top products out there that will help you choose and compare between the best shovels.

1. Fiskars Long Handle Digging Shovel (9668)

This specific shovel is ideal for digging in tough soil. The handle and blade are welded and made of hardened steel that will ensure a longer lifetime for the tool. Not to mention the guaranteed availability in stock at all times with a lifetime warranty over the product. The shovel is designed with a long handle that will protect you from getting any back injuries and keeping you safe at all times of use.

What we like:

  • Long handle
  • Steel shaft
  • Cheap
  • Seems very durable
  • Works great for hard soil

What we don’t like:

  • Heavy
  • The blade tip might break easily

Check the price on Amazon ›

2. Bond LH015 Mini D Handle Shovel

Next on our list is a product of Bond which is a credible source for these kinds of tools. This product, deserve the title to be one of the best short-handled shovels. However, due to its size, it’s only good for infrequent, light-duty tasks in your field. This is a choice that will respect your comfort at all times and always come in handy for you.

  • Compact, easy to store
  • Comfortable to use
  • Seems hard to break
  • Fairly expensive for what it is
  • Short handle, might be too short
  • Not ideal for hard tasks

Check the price on Amazon ›

3. Ames True Temper 1564400 Round Point True American D Shaped Wood Handle Shovel

This shovel has to be on our list due to its great power. As a start, the handle of this shovel is D shaped which is the most ideal shape for a handle as it assists you while using in on heavy duty. The blade has a perfect balance between a sharpened edge and a large surface area for holding more quantities.

  • Good quality steel
  • Fair Price
  • Durable
  • Great for heavy duty
  • Short handle

Check the price on Amazon ›

4. Rose Kuli® Folding Shovels Handle Shovel and Pick

This particular shovel is also a short handle shovel and off a folding feature like the previous. It is more than just a shovel as the blade consists of a shovel, two types of pickaxe and saw teeth for cutting ropes. It is a multi-tool in a small product that can be stored easily at home and still is available for all the small gardening tasks.

  • Versatile
  • Cheaper than buying both tools (if you don’t use it frequently)
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to store
  • Light tasks
  • Saw teeth can be too dull
  • Nice additional tool but not to be used on a daily basis

Check the price on Amazon ›

5. Bully Tools 82515 14-Gauge Round Point Shovel with Fiberglass Long Handle

This is a fiberglass long handle shovel which is more durable than wood handles. It is the perfect heavy duty tool for you. Regardless of its high price, this shovel defines the saying “you get what you pay for.” It comes with a sharp blade and a handle that has the feature of being extended. This product precisely comes with a limited lifetime warranty which you might not even need to use it due to the sturdy construction.

  • Durable
  • Long, comfortable handle
  • Great for tough soil
  • Fiberglass handle
  • Blade may need sharpening
  • Heavy
  • Expensive

Check the price on Amazon ›

6. Seymour S710 48-Inch Long Fiberglass Handle Notched Super Shovel Round Point

Last but not least is this long-named shovel that has a different kind of style than all the others. The blade of this shovel has cutting teeth at the end that is can be used to penetrate any type of hard soil you have in your field.

  • Makes digging hard soil easy
  • Looks unique
  • Decent handle length
  • Durable
  • Sharp Edges might not be safe in storage
  • Heavy
  • Expensive
  • Needs cleaning between teeth

Check the price on Amazon ›

The above list contains all the products that are worth mentioning. These products were picked upon the criteria that we have set earlier in this article. We kept in mind the balance between the right height, the best shovel shape and the most sturdy and durable construction.

However, out of these amazing choices, we have to pick only one product to be the best of them all and the most suitable for most of the tasks that you will probably encounter.

Fiskars is known for is high-quality tools with an affordable price, and this shovel is no difference. Its long, durable, steel handle is perfect for heavy-duty work. This shovel will last for a very long time. For all the advantages, we decide that Fiskars Long Handle Digging Shovel is the top pick.

Check the price on Amazon ›

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