Garden spades are more important than you might realize. These handy gardening tools make it easy to edge your garden beds precisely, break up densely packed soil, and transplant your flowers by the roots.
But how do you know which garden spade is right for you?
We've taken a look at some of the top options on the market, along with some information for how to determine the best garden tool for your needs. Different models will work for different gardeners.
Top 4: Best Garden Spades
Spade vs Shovel
This garden trowel is our top pick overall for people who want a small, handheld, versatile spade. The spade is highly affordable and crafted from stainless steel, so it won't wear out with use. There's even a polished coating added to the blade so that it won't rust.
The grip of this spade is also important. Instead of a rough handle, there's a soft and squishy ergonomic grip. It's contoured perfectly to fit in your hand, making it an ideal choice for gardeners with arthritis or joint fatigue.
The one-piece design means that you don't need to worry about the handle and blade separating. It all works together to avoid bending or damage, which makes it the perfect tool for dealing with tougher soil. If you've been worried that your garden might damage your tools, you'll want a tough option like this.
The oversized trowel head is ideal for larger projects, since it lets you move soil at a high volume. The flat blade is wide enough for you to scoop out significant chunks of dirt without becoming fatigued.
In addition to having an ergonomic grip, there's a palm rest to prevent your hands from tiring out. The contoured finger grips prevent the trowel from slipping, even if you're sweating in the hot sun.
Because of how solidly this spade is built, it comes with a lifetime warranty. If it bends at all, the manufacturer will replace it without any fuss or hassle. People have noted the sturdiness of the tool and praised it for its versatility.
Best Grass Shears
If you're looking for a larger spade that can double as a shovel, you might appreciate this hybrid design. It takes some of the best qualities of shovels and spades and combines them. The head has a sharp point like a shovel, but it also has the sheer edges of a spade.
This is the best option for those who want a heavy-duty tool instead of a hand trowel. It's built with a steel-reinforced fiberglass handle and a hardened steel blade. The cushioned D-grip allows you to get more leverage as you dig.
Since the design is a hybrid of a shovel and a spade, it can reduce your effort when digging in many types of soil. Whether you're breaking ground on a new garden bed or transplanting your beloved flowers, this tool can do the work with ease and precision.
This is an especially good model if you live in a place that freezes during the winter. The ground can become hard-packed when spring rolls around. A spade like this makes it easy to break through thick crusts of tough soil as you prep the earth for planting.
The shovel is so versatile that it's been given awards by independent testing labs for three years running. Instead of needing separate spade and shovel tools, you can use this one option for digging, gardening, and landscaping.
The design works with both dense and soft soils. But it's best for people working with tough and rocky terrain. If you have softer soil, you can probably find a suitable spade for a fraction of the cost. For those who dread wrestling with their gardens, though, you can't beat this design.
The super tough handle is also important. The majority of the handle is built from fiberglass, which is both lightweight and nearly indestructible. Then there's a layer of steel reinforcement to keep the shovel head from bending. The combination creates a durable but light shovel that you can use for hours without tiring.
In fact, the handle has been tested and proven to be 60 percent stronger than the average standards for shovels and spades. Not only can it handle your toughest garden work, it will outlast the majority of competing products.
The spade has a cushioned D-grip that allows for ergonomic handling. It's comfortable and easy to maneuver, whether you're wearing gardening gloves or not. Also built into the grip is UV protection, which prevents it from wearing down in direct sunlight.
The blades themselves are crafted from manganese carbon steel that's both thicker and tougher than an average spade. Every shovel comes pre-sharpened. There's also a powder coating that wears down on the edges with use, causing the spade to become sharper over time.
Best Gardening Wheelbarrows
If you're looking to buy all of your potential garden tools in one place, this pack might appeal. It comes with three different handheld shovels that you can use for planting, edging, digging, and pruning.
The set comes with a transplant spade, a hand spade, and a hand rake. All of the items are crafted from an aluminum alloy, which weighs less and costs less than steel. With that said, aluminum is more prone to bending and breaking over time.
Each handle is crafted from TPR rubber, which provides a non-slip grip. The ergonomic design includes a palm rest and contoured grips for your fingers, letting you garden with ease. It's especially good for reducing wrist fatigue in people with arthritis, so you can spend more time weeding.
There's a hole in the end of each handle to allow for hanging in your garage or garden shed.
With the hand spade, the tip of the blade is smooth but not sharp. That helps to prevent accidental harm. The head is large enough to lift and move ample amounts of soil. It's built for digging and tilling, so it's good for the planting season.
The transplant spade has a measuring scale built in with both inches and centimeters, so you can dig precise holes. You can use it to remove dirt and create the perfect depth for your transplants, or you can use it to carefully uproot small flowers and plants.
The hand rake has a sturdy claw that's difficult to break. It can be used to till the soil, allow fresh air to ventilate down through the earth, clean animal waste, mix fertilizer, and remove small weeds on the surface.
Another excellent gardening set, this is a great choice for beginning gardeners that don't have many tools yet. In addition to having a transplant spade and digging trowel, there's a soil rake, pruning shears, and a pair of gardening gloves.
The tools give you most of what you need to prep and maintain your garden. You can use the transplant and digging shovels to plant your crops, while the rake is perfect for weeding and aerating the soil. The pruning shears will be favored by people who grow tall flowers, vines, and shrubs.
Each of the tools comes with an ergonomic no-slip handle that prevents joint fatigue. It's ideal for long gardening sessions. The sharpened tips and heads can be used for breaking up tough soil. You can also use them to edge your garden bed.
Every tool head is crafted from rust-proof and polished aluminum. It's easy to maintain over time. The hole in the handles also allows you to store the tools in your garden shed or garage.
All in all, if you're so new to gardening that you haven't yet picked a pair of gloves, you'll appreciate this starter kit.
There are many different kinds of garden spade, and the right one for you will vary. Do you want a small and portable option, or a longer-handled spade that resembles a traditional shovel? Do you want extra accessories with your purchase, or just the spade itself?
Our top pick overall is the Edward Tools Bend-Proof spade. This stainless steel blade has a polish that resists rust. It's ideal for digging through heavy and rocky soil, as well as for edging your garden bed. If you need a planting trowel, the comfort grip and sharp blade will serve you well.
For people who want a large garden spade instead of a hand trowel, we recommend the Spear Head Spade. Instead of functioning as a traditional spade, this design combines the best qualities of a shovel and spade. It's great for all of your tough soil needs, but it might be too large to do careful precision work.
If you're looking for a set of tools, we highly recommend the Zuzuan kit. It comes with a hand spade for digging, a transplant spade for precise measurements, and a tilling rake to aerate the soil. The kit can cover most of your hand tool needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Spades and shovels do have some key differences, yes!
The most simple way to explain the difference is that a shovel digs, while a spade slices and scoops. If you need to make a serious hole, a shovel is your best bet. But if you need to edge your garden or move small amounts of dirt around, you'll appreciate the versatility of a spade.
There are multiple different types of shovels and spades, though, each of which is built for different uses. For example, you'll use a different product to edge your garden than you would to dig a trench.
Shovels are usually the best tool to use when you have to dig a deep hole. They're also ideal if you're working with compacted earth. For example, if you're digging a plot for your garden, you'll probably want a shovel to break up the soil and grass.
Shovels have a "scoop" shape, which allows them to lift dirt and toss it aside. They also have a sharp tip that can break through compacted soil, weeds, and other obstacles. Also helpful is the way the blade is angled.
Depending on the shovel, your model might have an angled handle. This allows you to get maximum leverage without needing to change your stance. You can put a lot of force behind each shovelful of dirt. Long shovels also make it easier to dig deep holes, since you can push them several feet into the earth without losing your grip.
With shovels, the tool has a sharp tip that lets you break up the soil. But spades have flat and rectangular blades. Different spades might have slightly different setups, depending on whether they're meant for edging or digging. There is a sharp and flat tip instead of a curved one.
It's common for spades to have short handles. This gives you greater control than you get when using a shovel, which is ideal if you're digging small holes for seeds or edging a garden bed. Instead of a concave blade, the blade is relatively flat, since it isn't meant for scooping.
Some spades have handles similar to shovels. Others have a special grip on the end, which lets you hold and maneuver the tool more easily.
Oftentimes, snow shovels will be shaped more like spades than traditional shovels. A snow shovel is much too large to use as a garden spade, but that's the shape to keep in mind.
Spades are specialized for certain tasks that shovels can't handle. They have precise shapes and make gardening much easier.
Since the edge of the blade is sharp, it's good at cutting through debris and dirt. It can shear through roots and clods of soil with ease. If you're trying to get a precisely edged garden bed or trench, you can use a spade to get clean lines. Some gardeners use spades to scrape away small weeds.
Even though shovels are optimized for scooping, spades can scoop to some extent as well. They are able to lift loose materials. There is also a level of efficiency to scooping with a spade, because you're lifting lighter loads. With a shovel, the loads can be so heavy that they exhaust even the hardiest gardener.
That means spades are great for people who don't have enough musculature to lift huge loads. If you want a tool that can move shallow dirt quickly, this is an ideal choice.
Garden spades are built from a variety of different materials, each of which has its own pros and cons. The right one for you will depend on your needs. For the most part, you'll find steel blades, but the handle material differs from model to model.
Wooden handles are common, as they're considered a classic design. These handles are strong and able to withstand several seasons of planting, as long as they're stored properly. The main drawback is that wood will splinter with age, so you'll need to replace the tool eventually.
Fiberglass has become more and more common these days. This heavy-duty material has the same basic strength as steel, and it doesn't wear down like wood. At the same time, it's extremely lightweight. You won't need to replace a fiberglass tool for years.
But fiberglass is also extremely expensive because of its many positive properties. In addition, if anything happens to a fiberglass handle, you won't be able to replace it.
Steel handles can stand up to any amount of wear and tear. They hold their shape and don't degrade with age, as long as they don't rust. But they are extremely heavy, so they're not the best choice for people who get easily exhausted doing garden work.
If you're shopping on a budget, aluminum is among the cheapest material out there. It's also relatively lightweight. But it can bend easily, so your spade might not be able to break up dense earth without breaking itself.