The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Shovels for Yard Work and Gardening

In the Garden Sue Feb 22, 2024
59 People Read

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. As an Amazon associate I may earn on qualifying purchases 

When it comes to yard work and gardening, having the right tools can make all the difference. One of the most essential tools in your arsenal is the shovel. However, not all shovels are created equal.

There are various types of shovels, each designed for specific tasks.

In this guide, we will explore the different types of shovels, their uses, and help you find the best-rated ergonomic shovels and spades for your needs.

Q: What are the different types of shovels and what are they used for?

A: There are several types of shovels, each with a unique purpose.


Here are some of the most common garden shovel types:

1. **Round Point Shovel**: This versatile shovel has a pointed blade, making it ideal for digging holes, moving soil, and planting trees or shrubs.

2. **Square Point Shovel**: Featuring a flat, square blade, this shovel is great for edging, scooping, and leveling soil or gravel.

3. **Garden Spade or Spade**: Smaller and narrower than traditional shovels, garden spades are excellent for precise digging, transplanting, and working in tight spaces.

4. **Trenching Shovel**: With a long, narrow blade, trenching shovels are designed for digging narrow, deep trenches for irrigation or drainage systems.

5. **Scoop Shovel**: These shovels have a deep, rounded blade, perfect for moving loose materials like mulch, compost, or snow.

6. **Root Cutting Shovel**: These specialized shovels have serrated edges and a pointed tip, making them ideal for cutting through roots when digging up plants or trees.

7. **Post Hole Digger**: This tool has two shovel-like blades designed to dig deep, narrow holes for fence posts and other vertical structures.

types of shovels and spades

Q: What is the difference between a shovel and a spade?

A: Shovels and digging spades serve similar purposes but have distinct differences:

**Shovel**: Shovels typically have a curved or rounded blade with a scoop-like shape. They are designed for digging, lifting, and moving loose materials such as soil, mulch, gravel, and sand. Shovels are more for moving material.

**Spade**: Spades have a flat, straight-edged blade with or without a pointed tip. They are ideal for precise digging, cutting through tough soil, and edging flower beds. Digging spades provide better control and precision and are more for cutting the soil.

Q: What kind of shovel will cut through roots?

A: If you frequently encounter roots while gardening or landscaping, a root cutting shovel is your best bet. These shovels have serrated edges that can easily slice through roots, allowing you to remove plants or trees without excessive effort. Look for a sturdy and well-made root cutting shovel for durability.

shovel, root slayer, garden shovel, spade, garden spade

Q: What is the difference between a border and digging spade?

A: Border spades and digging spades are often confused due to their similar appearance, but they serve different purposes:

- **Border Spade**: Border spades are smaller and lighter than digging spades. They are designed for precise work in confined spaces, such as creating clean edges around flower beds, digging small holes for plants, or transplanting delicate seedlings.

- **Digging Spade**: Digging spades have a broader blade and are suitable for general digging tasks, like turning over soil in larger areas, digging holes for shrubs or trees, and breaking up compacted soil.

Best-Rated Ergonomic Shovels and Spades

1. **Fiskars Steel D-Handle Square Garden Spade**: This spade features a comfortable D-handle and a sharp, durable blade, making it great for edging and precise digging.

square shovel

2. **Radius Garden 22011 Root Slayer Shovel**: The serrated blade of this shovel easily cuts through roots, and its ergonomic design reduces strain on your wrists and back.

root shovel

3. **Bully Tools 82515 14-Gauge Round Point Shovel**: With its heavy-duty construction and comfortable grips, this round point shovel is perfect for a variety of tasks.

round shovel

4. **Spear & Jackson Stainless Steel Digging Spade**: This traditional digging spade boasts stainless steel construction for durability and a comfortable wooden handle.

digging spade

5. **Bully Tools 12 gauge edging and planting Spade**: For edging work and precise cutting through soil, this spade is a solid choice with its sturdy build and sharp blade.

planting spade

6. **AMES 2682700 Poly Scoop with Hardwood Handle and D-Grip, 46-Inch** Strong and durable wood handle for heavy lifting of grain, stones, dirt, etc.

scoop shovel

7. **Truper 33436 California Trenching Shovel** Non slip handle and angled design for better ergonomics

trench shovel

8. **True Temper 2540700 16 in. Drain Trench Spade** Comfort grip with D handle along with comfort step for great ergonomic design

shovel for trenches

9. Snow Shovel:

In research, the bent shaft shovel for snow removal was found to have less compression force on the spine than 4 other snow shovel designs. The task of shoveling snow can often lead to back pain and discomfort.

As a Physical Therapist, I teach the right techniques of lifting and show you some tools that can transform snow removal into a manageable and pain-free activity.

In this guide, I explored the importance of basic ergonomics, whether shoveling or pushing snow is better, the best exercises for snow shoveling, and whether ergonomic snow shovels are worth the investment.

snow shovel


Selecting the right shovel or spade for your yard work and gardening needs can greatly improve your efficiency and reduce the physical strain of outdoor tasks.

Whether you're digging holes, cutting through roots, or creating neat borders, understanding the different types of shovels and their purposes is essential.

Invest in high-quality, ergonomic tools to ensure both comfort and longevity as you transform your outdoor spaces.

More Garden Tips and Reviews:

Best Snow Shovels for your Back

How to Shovel Snow without Back Pain

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Cordless Hedge Trimmer Review

Top Rated Cordless Chainsaw Review

Garden Tiller Review

Review of the 5 Best Garden Stools for Seniors

Disclosure:  Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. As an Amazon associate I may earn on qualifying purchases