Gardening experts and novices alike know that to take care of plants, you need to do a lot of soil work. Whether it's tilling the ground to make it loose enough to plant in or digging a hole to transplant a new shrub, you need a garden tool that will allow you to really work the ground. A garden spade, which is primarily used for digging and cutting through the soil, will help you do just that. It's an essential gardening tool every plant lover should have.
That's why we did some research and came up with a top 10 list of the best garden spades out there. Topping it is Oakthrift's multi-digger garden spade, a hybrid gardening tool that can be used to dig, cut, and scoop. Check out the rest of our top picks, and make sure you give our buying guide reviewed by a master gardener and homestead blogger a read while you're at it - it has key information that will help you find the best spade for your garden.
Gardening and wildcrafting food for her family, Amy grows in a variety of gardens including hydroponic, raised beds, containers, and in the ground. As a master gardener, she has successfully gardened across the country.
mybest US' editing team consists of experienced members who have backgrounds in writing, editing, translation, and more. We are dedicated to researching what makes a product or service the best to users in the US in order to create top-quality articles. From skincare, to kitchen appliances, and to DIY supplies, our mission is to find the best ones for you.
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Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for the perfect garden spade.
There are so many different garden tools, and a few of them look similar! Three that are often mixed up are spades, shovels, and garden trowels.
Though many people think that "shovel" is basically a synonym for "spade," these two gardening tools are actually quite distinct.
A shovel blade has a gradual bowl-like curve with a round or pointy tip. It’s used primarily for scooping material that’s already loose. Its shaft is longer than a spade since deep scooping requires more leverage, and it's often straight to allow you to grip it easily.
The blade of a spade, on the other hand, is much flatter with a straight edge. Unlike a shovel, which is designed primarily for scooping, a spade’s uses are a bit more specialized depending on the type you get. In general, however, spades are used for cutting and sometimes digging.
Its shaft is shorter than a shovel’s, and its handle usually comes in a D or a T shape. These particular features allow you to use a spade more easily in a range of differently-sized spaces and positions.
Another item that some people confuse with a spade is a garden trowel. However, you can easily tell them apart by their size.
Though a garden trowel might look similar to a spade, it’s much smaller and has a width that usually measures from one to five inches across. It’s a hand tool used for small areas and delicate tasks, like planting bulbs or working with bonsai.
Spades are classified according to their specific uses, and each one has unique features. A digging spade, also called a garden spade, has a semi-flat blade that's nine to eleven inches in length and six to eight inches in width.
It’s used for moving soil, turning the ground, and slicing through the earth and roots. Its shape makes it an ideal tool for edging lawns and working with weeds.
A border spade has the same shape as a digging spade, but it's slightly smaller and flatter. It's a better fit for working in smaller spaces or on tasks that need more precision like flower beds or planting smaller shrubs.
The blade of a pointed spade looks a bit like a soft arrow; its edges are curved while its tip is pointed. It is used for slicing through soil filled with stones and roots.
A transplanting spade has a long blade with a narrow width that's designed to penetrate deep within the soil around a plant’s roots. It's ideal when you need to uproot a plant from one place and transfer it to another.
Hybrid spades have combined functions. For example, some spades have a pointed edge and saw-like teeth on both sides, allowing you to pierce soil while simultaneously sawing roots apart.
Since a garden spade is used for a lot of heavy digging, cutting, and piercing, you need one that’s long-lasting and durable.
Many blades are made of either steel or aluminum. Aluminum blades are cheaper than steel, lighter, and naturally rust-resistant. However, because aluminum isn’t as strong as steel, it’s more prone to getting bent and dented.
Although steel is heavier than aluminum, it’s much stronger and more durable. However, steel is prone to rust. If you get a spade with a steel blade, make sure it’s painted over or galvanized in order to form a protective barrier. Some spades are coated with a powder finish that defends against rust, too.
Also, make sure that shaft material is strong enough to provide the leverage you need without breaking.
A wooden shaft is lightweight and is easy to repair if the damage to it is minor. However, it isn’t weatherproof and is prone to deteriorating, especially when exposed to water. Wood is also more susceptible to cracking and splitting, which could give you splinters.
Though fiberglass weighs more than wood, it’s way more durable and weather-resistant. Because of this, it doesn’t require maintenance the way wood does. Polypropylene is comfortable and water-resistant but tends to degrade when exposed to UV light. Also, steel shafts are durable but might make your spade feel a bit heavy.
Pick a garden spade with an ergonomic handle that gives you traction. Not only will this allow you to work efficiently, but it will also help prevent blisters and your hands from getting tired or strained. Spades without a handle may come with a grip made of a textured material that’s easier to hold, such as rubber.
Other spades have handles shaped like a T or D. A T-handle allows you to grip it on each side, making it easier to press down on hard soil. It’s versatile as it is compatible with a range of hand sizes, from small to large.
A D-handle allows you to grip the sides or the top. Some are attached to the shaft by either glue, pins, or bolts, but others have a shaft and handle made as one piece. The latter tends to be sturdier as its shaft and handle have no reason to come apart. Other handles are shaped like a Y, teardrop, or even a circle.
Garden spades generally come with shafts that range anywhere between 44 and 48 inches. However, smaller ones can have shafts that measure from 18 to 24 inches.
Consider the dimensions of the space you will be working in as well as how much work you will be doing. Shorter shafts are a good match for small garden spaces but can strain your back. Garden spades with longer shafts, on the other hand, are easier to work with because they give you more leverage.
Since spades come in a range of different sizes, choose one based on how much garden space you have. If you have a large lawn or backyard, a large garden spade will allow you to work more efficiently. You will get more done in a shorter amount of time, thanks to a blade with a wider surface area.
On the other hand, if you don’t have that much gardening space, a spade on the smaller side, such as a border spade, will allow you to work with more precision.
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Multi-Digger Garden Spade
Never Mind Rocks and Roots With This Hybrid Spade
Get a Good Grip With This T-Handle Spade
Steel D-Handle Transplanting Spade
A Heavy-Duty Steel Spade With an Extra-Large Handle
Spear & Jackson
Stainless Border Spade
A Border Spade That's Easy to Work With
Root Slayer Drain Spade
A Small Spade That Attacks Roots
46-Inch Steel D-Handle Square Garden Spade
A Square Garden Spade Perfect for Digging and Edging
Stainless Steel Transplanter
A Sharp and Durable Transplant Spade
Spear & Jackson
Carbon Steel Digging Spade｜1180NB
Dig Through Heavy Soil With This Weather-Proof Spade
True Temper Razorback Industrial All-Steel Spade｜2451700
A Steel Spade With Multiple Gardening Functions
Spear Head Spade
Hybrid Shovel Spade｜SHFD3
A Weather-Resistant Hybrid Gardening Tool
The unique blade shape of Oakthrift's hybrid garden spade allows it to be used for multiple purposes. It has a pointed tip that makes it a good fit for digging, and one of its sides has jagged edges that can cut roots.
This spade is also has a dual grip handle and small footplates. Plus, it's very lightweight at less than five pounds, making it less tiresome to use.
Overall, reviewers confirmed that this spade is light enough for them to use with ease. Many said that it's sturdy and liked its heavy-duty feel. Some reviewers also noted that the jagged side was really useful for cutting through roots.
Gardena's digging spade has a unique, non-slip T-handle that allows users to easily get a strong grip with two hands. Its large front step has a protective layer that will guard your foot against slipping when you need to step down on it.
Reviewers loved the feel and functionality of the T-handle, saying it seems durable. Others liked that it has a front step with padding that allows them to step down on the spade comfortably without damaging their shoes.
Fiskar's extra heavy-duty garden spade is made of 14- and 18-gauge steel, making it durable and resistant to bending. It's got a large D-handle that gives your hands a better grip and more control. Its large front step makes your stomping easier, too.
Though many reviewers said that this spade itself is heavy-duty, some complained about it bending at the connecting point between the blade and the shaft. However, many said that the blade cuts through soil well. Home gardeners also liked that the long blade goes deeper into the soil than regular spades.
Spear & Jackson's garden spade has a blade that's shaped and sized in a way that isn't too big or bulky. This makes it a great tool for working with borders. Its steel blade has a mirror polish, giving it a coating that's resistant to rust.
Though gardeners liked that this spade is lightweight, some reviewers complained about its sturdiness and recommended using it for light garden work. However, many reviewers liked the size of the blade, saying it's easy to use and perfect for working with borders.
This "Root Slayer" garden spade may be small, measuring just 29 inches in length, but its steel blade is lined with jagged edges on both sides that will cut through roots. The blade has a V-shaped tip that helps it slice through soil, too.
Many reviewers said its jagged edges make it perfect for weeding, digging, and cutting through roots. They liked that piercing through the ground takes minimal effort with this spade. Others said the ring handle is comfortable to hold thanks to its padding.
Fiskar's garden spade has a square-shaped steel blade, making it perfect not only for digging but also for working with borders. The blade is sharp, making it much easier to pierce through hard ground. It's finished with a rust-resistant powder coating.
Some reviewers complained about issues with the handle either being misaligned with the shaft or coming off easily. However, many home gardeners liked that this spade has multiple functions. People also said it cuts through dirt really well and is great for edging gardens.
Radius Garden's transplant spade has a round handle with a non-slip grip. The tool is made of durable steel, making it suitable for heavy-duty work. Its elevated forward step is designed to help you keep your balance even when you press down hard with your foot.
A few reviewers found this spade a bit too heavy. However, many said that the blade of this spade is sharp enough to pierce through the soil with ease and slide between rocks. Users also liked the soft and comfortable handle, saying the round shape allowed them to push the spade down without straining.
Spear & Jackson's digging spade is made of heavy-duty carbon steel with a rust-resistant powder coating. Its shaft is made with weatherproof hardwood, adding to the spade's durability and longevity.
Overall, many reviewers said that this spade is strong and sturdy. They noted that it's great for digging and working with heavy soil. Many also reported that it cuts through roots well.
This steel spade by Ames has a blade that's 15 inches long and made of strong, durable steel. Its flat, sharp edge makes it great for digging, cutting, and, according to reviewers, even edging.
A few reviewers had issues with the footpads falling off, but a lot said that the spade itself is long-lasting and durable. Reviewers also liked that the blade is sharp, and they said this spade is easy to press into tough ground.
This hybrid gardening tool is a cross between a shovel and a spade, making it extra versatile. It's got a slightly curved blade, allowing it to scoop and hold soil. It also has a sharpened edge that cuts through the ground easily. It's equipped with a UV-resistant handle grip, too.
Many reviewers loved the functionality of this spade, saying it pierces the ground with ease and goes in deep. People also appreciated that the ground-breaking function of a spade is paired with the scooping ability of a shovel in the same garden tool.
If you're in the mood to spruce up your garden, check out the articles below!
No. 1: Oakthrift｜Multi-Digger Garden Spade
No. 2: Gardena｜Small Spade
No. 3: Fiskars｜Steel D-Handle Transplanting Spade
No. 4: Spear & Jackson｜Stainless Border Spade
No. 5: Radius Garden｜Root Slayer Drain Spade
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