Gardening can take a lot of hard work. Having the right tools to use for any gardening endeavor will surely help make things easier, faster and done more properly. That is why it is important that every gardener has the necessary tools at hand. There is no need for over-specialized but costly tools that may even take up more space. Simply get back to the basics. Two of the most basic gardening tools are the shovel and spade. They can perform some of the most important tasks. They are small enough, not over-specialized, and do not have to cost much.
The concept of digging is much older than any of us. The facts of its beginnings are a bit blurry. Some say it started 12,000 years ago, others claim it was during the dawn of the Neolithic Revolution. It really does not matter to us, modern-day gardeners. What matters is we learned how to dig.
The earliest agriculturalists created shovels made of animal bones (particularly the shoulder blades). Soon, they learned to create their tools using stone and wood. The last discovered alternative material was metal, no hard guesses here. Our ancestors also learned to fashion and develop the digging tools according to purpose: spades for digging in solid soil, and shovels for moving loose material, which required manual labor.
Interestingly, these developments gave birth to more varieties that vary in shapes, sizes, even functions.
The Gardening Spade
The gardening spade is basically a short-handled square shovel that is designed for tight spaces. It has a long, narrow head and flat blade, which makes it great for cutting, digging holes and small soil transfers. Additionally, it works well in tasks that involve transplanting, plant segregation (perennials vs shrubs), trenching (deeper ground excavation), and edging of beds and lawns.
Needless to say, for these purposes, never mind the hand trowel or even the larger digging shovel. The spade should be a must in anyone’s gardening tools kit!
It could be a bit pricey. Weigh the pros and cons. To add to the pros, it is durable and can last long, therefore, it will prove to be worth it in the long run. Get one with a carbon or stainless steel head and/or a thick fiberglass handle that won’t easily break.
More Tips for Buying the Best Spade:
- a handle socket hand-forged from thick metal
- metal shaft since it is sturdier than wood
- a strapped handle — considered the strongest
- treads or shoe protectors on the top of the blade if the spade is large
Types of Gardening Spades:
- Garden Spade
- the earth mover of the spades with a head typically 6 to 8 inches wide and 9 to 11 inches long
- for double digging, spading up the ground, preparing and edging beds
- Border Spade
- with a smaller head so it is handy and useful for light work
- as tough as larger spades
- for working in raised beds, flower beds, tight spaces and planting smaller shrubs
- Transplanting Spade
- with a long narrow blade that reaches deep into the soil
- for transplanting large perennials, ditch digging and shrub planting
Here are some gardening spades you can find on Amazon:
- A.M. Leonard Classic Full Strap Spade
No normal, serious garden is complete without a shovel! It is a requirement unless one is simply planting in pots. The shovel is great for yard gardening and working on a raised bed. It is perfect for digging much deeper holes, stirring compost piles, mixing potting soil, and transporting/turning/removing more dirt and weeds.
The shovel, in other words, is a necessary tool in preparing a garden. If work involves soil, mulch and other loose materials, use it. Prioritize pointed shovels and those made of lightweight materials.
Shovel Styles Depending on Purpose:
- round tip with a long handle – best for digging and planting
- short handle – does nicely when doing lighter tasks such as transplanting
- square tip – for leveling areas (patios, walkways), squaring off trenches, and stirring/scooping up piles
Types of Shovels:
- Digging Shovel
- with a slightly curved scoop with upturned edges and either a pointed (center) or flat (left) tip
- Trenching Shovel
- with sharp, pointed tip and squared sides
- Drain Spades
- very narrow with slightly curved sides and a rounded tip
- for precise spot work (ex. adding flowers to established beds, clearing existing trenches)
- Scoop Shovels
- broad and wide-flared with a flat tip
- for eliminating weeds
- can be used as lawn edgers
- a half-moon blade
- for cleaning up borders, driveways, and curbs
- for plant segregation (perennials vs ground cover vs shrubbery)
- Post Hole Diggers
- two shovels connected by a hinge
- for loose soil penetration and dirt excavation
- Trowels and Soil Scoops
- for repotting, spot reseeding, and other minor gardening tasks
The purposes of some of the shovel types listed above are already self-explanatory.
Here are some gardening shovels you can purchase online: