When it comes to taking care of my lawn, I understand the importance of using the right tools for the job. One tool that is essential for any gardener is a garden spade. In this article, I’ll explain what a garden spade is and why it’s important, discuss the different types of spades available, provide tips for choosing the best spade for your needs, and review the top 5 garden spades on the market. Additionally, I’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to use a garden spade properly and offer tips on how to care for and maintain your spade.
A garden spade is a versatile tool that is used for digging, planting, and cultivating soil. It is essential for any gardener, as it can make a variety of tasks much easier. A garden spade has a flat blade that is typically made of steel, and a long handle that allows for leverage and control when digging.
The Difference Between Shovels and Spades
I know that garden shovels are a must-have tool for any gardener. They typically have long handles and slightly concave blades that come to a point at the bottom, making them ideal for digging holes, turning soil, and moving large amounts of material. On the other hand, scoop shovels are perfect for scooping up various items like leaves, soil, sand, or gravel with their large, deep blades that may be flat on the end.
When it comes to spades, I prefer them over shovels for certain gardening tasks. Spades look like shovels with a long handle and blade, but the blade often has a flat edge or is thinly shaped with a slight curve or on the end. Some spades even have jagged edges. As a gardener, I know that the job of a spade is to slice vertically into the earth to create narrow channels and clean borders, cut through roots, and break up stubborn clumps of soil or sod. In fact, some spades are specifically designed for replanting with thin blades that can get under roots and bulbs, making them a valuable tool in my gardening arsenal.
Types of Garden Spades
There are several different types of garden spades available, each designed for specific tasks.
- Digging Spades
Digging spades are the most common type of garden spade, and are designed for general digging tasks such as planting and removing soil. They have a flat blade that is slightly curved, making it easier to penetrate the soil.
- Border Spades
Border spades are smaller than digging spades, and are designed for working in tight spaces such as raised garden beds and borders. They have a shorter handle and a narrower blade, making them easier to maneuver in confined areas.
- Transplanting Spades
Transplanting spades have a narrow, pointed blade that is ideal for digging holes for seedlings and small plants. They are also useful for dividing and transplanting large plants.
The Best Garden Spades
After researching and testing several garden spades, I’ve narrowed down the top 5 garden spades on the market.
- Dimensions: 8.5 x 4.75 x 47 inches
- Weight: 4.8 oz
- Warranty: Lifetime
Fiskars is renowned for their high-quality tools that come with a lifetime warranty. The Square Garden Spade is a classic digging spade made of solid welded steel that won’t flex or crack like fiberglass or wood. The straight edge is perfect for digging trenches and creating tight borders around flower beds. It’s also strong enough to wedge out rocks and cut through tough roots.
The spade features a plastic D-shaped handle that is large enough to comfortably fit your hands through the loop even when wearing gloves. The large size also allows you to use two hands, which gives you more power and leverage, and it gives you the option of using different hand positions, which is ideal for when you need to use the spade for a number of jobs around the yard.
The blade is made with 14-gauge steel that is welded to an 18-gauge steel shaft for extra strength and durability. The steel is powder-coated, so it won’t rust or corrode, and the blade comes sharpened right out of the box, so you can get to work right away slicing through tough sod and compact dirt. If you need a little bit more force, there are large foot platforms on the top of the blade.
- Strong powder-coated steel blade and shaft
- Oversized D-shaped handle
- Foot platforms on the blade for extra force
- Lifetime warranty
- Plastic handle can fade if left in the sun
- Dimensions: 37.8 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches
- Weight: 1.45 lbs
- Warranty: Lifetime
DeWit was established over 120 years ago in a small village in northern Holland. Today the company is still headquartered at the same location and run by the same family. The DeWit Perennial Long Handle Spade is a perfect example of their commitment to using traditional techniques combined with modern-day technology. Handcrafted by master blacksmiths, this rugged spade can tackle any task you throw at it and will last for years to come.
The long wooden handle is made from European ash that is sourced from regulated forests where the trees are monitored and replanted in an effort to be more sustainable. The combination of the long handle and T-shaped handle ease pressure on your back and hands while you work, and the wood has a bit of elasticity, so it flexes slightly when it encounters tough spots, which further prevents strain.
Made of Swedish boron steel, the blade is forged as a single piece and is heat-treated to give it extra hardiness. The razor-sharp edge allows it to slide through dirt, clay, and weeds like butter. The small size is perfect for planting in tight spaces and digging out narrow trenches, while the slight dip allows you to scoop up soil and remove deep-rooted plants.
- Strong Swedish boron steel blade
- Lightweight ash handle sourced from regulated forests
- Comfortable T-shaped handle
- Lifetime warranty
- Dimensions: 43 x 8.25 x 2.75 inches
- Weight: 3.72 lbs
- Warranty: 15 years
Ames is another well-established garden tool brand that is known for their quality products. They make a number of different types of spades and shovels, but the standard garden spade is one of the most popular because it’s a great multi-purpose tool for digging, transplanting large plants like shrubs and trees, and creating neat borders around flower beds, trees, and pathways.
Made from hardy tempered steel, the blade has a curved edge and an arched design that makes it equally effective at digging borders, scooping out dirt, and getting under roots. There are wide foot platforms at the top of the blade with perforations so that your feet don’t slip off even when working in wet or muddy conditions.
The 24-inch shaft is made from strong North American hardwood, which should last for years to come. At the top there is a D-shaped fiberglass handle with a cushioned grip that is easy on the hands and allows you to grip firmly for more leverage. The handle is secured in place with high-quality rivets to prevent separation. In addition, the spade has a fiberglass cuff in between the blade socket and the shaft to lock the pieces in place.
- Tempered steel blade
- Arched design for edging and digging
- Strong North American hardwood shaft
- Cushioned fiberglass D-shaped handle
- Wide perforated foot platforms
- Slightly heavy
- Dimensions: 38.19 x 5.51 x 2.76 inches
- Weight: 5.2 oz
- Warranty: 10 years
Border spades typically feature thin, slightly curved or straight blades that are designed specifically with edging in mind. They’re great tools for getting into tight spots like between plants and rocks. This model by Spear & Jackson blends traditional English craftsmanship with modern technology to create a classic-looking, long-lasting spade that will help you create clean borders.
The Traditional Stainless Border Spade features a mirror-polished stainless steel blade that has a slight curve along the base. The mirror polishing prevents soil from sticking to the blade as you work and it protects the blade against rust. The blade is fixed to the shaft with double screws on either side for stability, and it has small foot plates on the top that bend slightly backwards to give you more force when you need it.
The handle is made of one solid piece of hardwood that splits at the top into a D-shaped or wishbone style handle. This gives the spade a classic vintage look and clean lines from the top to the bottom. The wooden handle and shaft are weather-proofed so that you can use the spade in any condition including rain, blazing sun, and even frost and snow.
- Great for creating borders and working in confined spaces
- Mirror-polished stainless steel
- Smooth weather proofed hardwood shaft and handle
- Foot plates for additional force and stability
- Wooden handle can be hard on the hands
- Dimensions: 40.4 x 7 x 2.5 inches
- Weight: 4.19 lbs
- Warranty: Lifetime
If you need to create tight borders around pathways, flowerbeds, or trees, the Razor-Back Border Spade is a good choice. The 28-inch handle gives you just enough length for leverage and allows you to get closer to the area you want to clear, while the sturdy blade and solid construction ensure that the spade won’t bend or twist while you’re working. As an added bonus, Razor-Back is based in the United States and offers a lifetime warranty on all of their products.
Razor-Back uses industrial-grade tempered steel to create their spade blades. This model has a straight edge along the bottom that enables you to slice through stubborn soil to create post holes, trenches, or borders. The top of the blade has oversized foot platforms that turn forward to give you more power and firm footing. By using your body weight to drive the spade into the ground, you exert less pressure on your upper body.
The long handle is made of North American hardwood and it has a steel D-grip encasing at the top to protect the wood and prevent the spade from twisting and turning as you dig. The steel is held firmly in place with rivets on either side. The Razor-Back border spade also has a 9-inch long socket that extends from the blade up the wooden shaft. This adds extra reinforcement between the blade and handle.
- Industrial-grade tempered steel
- Wooden handle has a steel D-grip
- Extended socket for extra reinforcement
- Oversized foot platforms
- Shorter handle may be uncomfortable for taller users
- Dimensions: 2.88 x 8.5 x 46.88 inches
- Weight: 4.4 oz
- Warranty: Lifetime
Just like the name suggests, a transplanting spade is used for moving plants. This model by Fiskars has a long, thin blade that can dig down deep to get under bulbs and create holes wherever you want to place your plants. It’s also great for dividing plants with deep roots and loosening soil so that you can create flower beds. Like all of Fiskars’ tools, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Unlike many tool manufacturers, Fiskars weld their blades and shafts together to ensure they won’t come loose or separate. The blade is made of tough 14-gauge steel and the shaft is made with 18-gauge steel. Both can stand up to rough use without flexing or bending. The blade comes pre-sharpened, so it’s ready to slice through soil right away, and the steel is powder-coated to prevent rust and make cleaning up easy.
For comfort there is a plastic D-shaped handle that is extra wide so that you can use both hands, making it easy to position the spade at different angles. The tear-shaped shaft adds another level of comfort, as it moves naturally in the same direction as the hands. In addition, the blade has oversized foot platforms with rivets, so you can apply more pressure to the blade without overexerting your back, shoulders, or arms.
- Strong steel blade and shaft are welded together
- Powder-coated to prevent rust
- Extra-large D-Shaped handle
- Oversized foot platforms with rivets
- D-handle can come loose over time
- Dimensions: 40 x 3 x 2 inches
- Weight: 2 lbs
- Warranty: N/A
The Spear Head Spade is a unique cross between a digging shovel and a spade. It was created by an avid gardener who was having trouble using conventional gardening tools after having hip and knee replacements. HIs goal was to create a hybrid tool that would reduce the effort and strength needed to dig in tough soil. The result is this heavy-duty garden tool that can cut through clay, compact earth, and rocky conditions with ease.
Strong and sturdy, the extra-thick blade is made of carbon manganese steel and comes to a point like a shovel, but the head is thinner and smaller than a conventional shovel, so it can get into narrow spaces and work its way around roots, rocks, and other obstacles. The blade is beveled at a 35-degree angle around the entire edge, and it is powder coated with an epoxy resin that gives it a self-sharpening effect.
The SHFD3 has a shaft that is on the shorter side, so it’s ideal for people of average or shorter height. The fiberglass shaft is reinforced with steel and it has a cushioned D-shaped handle that is easy on the hands and gives you a solid grip. For more stability and force, you can use the foot platforms on the top of the blade. The foot platforms also function as a border so that you can hold more soil.
- Hybrid spade and shovel
- Extra-thick carbon manganese steel blade
- Beveled edges self-sharpen with each use
- Fiberglass shaft is reinforced with steel
- Cushioned D-shape handle
- Not as effective at edging as a traditional spade
What to Look for in a Garden Spade
When choosing a garden spade, I need to consider a few features that are important for my gardening needs.
Type of Spade
Think about the type of spade that is suitable for the tasks. For instance, a digging spade is versatile for moving and turning small amounts of soil, creating edges, and preparing flower beds. On the other hand, a border spade is ideal for slicing through roots and creating clean, narrow trenches. If I want to plant bulbs or small holes, a transplanting spade is the right tool to use.
Blade – To effectively engage with the ground and underlying objects, the blade of the spade must possess robustness, keenness, and longevity. A heavy-duty steel blade that won’t bend or chip is ideal, and I can also look for a powder-coated blade to prevent rusting. Some blades even come with foot platforms that allow me to use my body weight to drive the spade further into the soil with less effort.
Handle – For optimal comfort and a secure hold, the handle of the spade should feature an ergonomic design that fits snugly in my hand. I can opt for an oversized handle that lets me use two hands and maneuver the spade while wearing gloves. Regardless of whether the handle is made of wood, steel, or fiberglass, it should be securely fastened to the shaft to avoid slipping, twisting, or separating while in use.
How to Care for Your Garden Spade
As a gardener, it’s important to maintain my tools, including my garden spade, to ensure they stay in good condition. Fortunately, spades don’t require a lot of upkeep, but there are a few things I can do to keep them performing well.
To clean my spade, I simply rinse it with water and use a cloth or brush to remove any dirt from hard-to-reach areas. Once I’ve wiped the blade dry, I apply a light coating of plant-based oil to prevent rust. If I notice that the blade has become dull, I use a file to sharpen it at a 45-degree angle, following the original beveling on the edge.
When I’m not using my garden spade, I make sure to store it in a dry, well-ventilated area such as my garden shed or garage to prevent any moisture from accumulating and causing rust or corrosion.
With the right garden spade, I can keep my backyard and garden neat, tidy, and looking like it was tended to by a professional landscaper. The trick is finding the right type of spade for my specific needs and choosing a model that is made of tough, high-grade materials. I personally use Razor-Back Border Spade With D-Handle and it really made the job easier. Comfort is also key when it comes to any gardening tool.