Yard tools are a gardener’s best friend. Choosing equipment that lasts and performs in the manner required is the first step but you also need to consider quality and affordability. Your garden spade is one of the most used tools in the landscape. In this article, we’ll break down the spade’s uses and some selection criteria.
Garden spade tools are used in cultivation, terracing, contouring, and aid in such tasks as drainage and more. What is a garden spade? Don’t call it a shovel, as the spade is an altogether different implement. It is an all-purpose tool that most gardeners can’t live without. Ergonomic design makes using a garden spade less difficult and modern tools are increasingly being fashioned for comfort but also to accommodate certain handicaps and physical stresses.
Most of us know what a good old-fashioned shovel is and what it can do, but what do you use a garden spade for? First of all, a spade has a short handle that is usually about 4 feet (1 m.) long and a flattened, rectangular blade as opposed to a shovel’s scooped blade.
Garden spade tools are used for light cultivation not earth moving, and the shape of the blade helps cut sod, reshape beds and digging out deeper planting holes. There are numerous types of specialty spades, with specialized purposes. You can also select from many types of handle and blade materials.
Many people are familiar with using a garden spade during cultivation of vegetable or flower beds. The shape of the blade cuts into soil and helps mix in amendments. Its long narrow blade also pries out nice, deep holes for plants will developed root systems.
The various types of spades are suited to very specific tasks:
Once you know the kind of spade you require, there are several other characteristics. Spades may have U-shaped, T-shaped or straight handles. U-shaped handles provide maximum leverage and ergonomic efficiency. Straight handles are slightly easier on the back but don’t transport soil as easily. The handles may also feature non-slip rubber and be made out of hardwood like ash.
The blade should be made of stainless steel or carbon for long life. Hammered steel is also a strong blade material. If you have wooden handles, care for your spade by rubbing some linseed oil into it annually. Keep the blade sharp on any type of spade to enhance its cutting properties and save your back.
You’ve heard the phrase ‘let’s call a spade a spade’ meaning ‘let’s say things the way they really are’. Which is ironic because there’s so much confusion about what is a spade and what isn’t!
For some people there’s no practical difference between a spade and shovel. They’re both just garden tools for digging. But for others, spade vs shovel is like the difference between a pen and a pencil.
I’m going to try to explain the difference quickly and clearly. Wish me luck!
(Stick around after the explanation to test your new knowledge on a short quiz I made. The answers are pretty crazy and show how confusing these words can be.)
The garden tools we sell in our online tool shop are all tools that we, as vegetable gardeners, use ourselves. We have sourced a selection of planting, digging, weeding, harvesting, pruning, maintenance and wood cutting tools to make the job at hand that much easier. We have compiled a list of the top 10 gardening tools that we use on a recurring basis.
We have a selection of galvanised and hard plastic wheelbarrows available. A good barrow is strong yet light enough to easily transport when full. Also, why not try one of these water carrying bags for wheelbarrows, they are the only way to transport water in a barrow without spilling it. Wheelbarrow – Hard plastic and 100 Litre capacity
9. Dibber Dibbers are useful for making planting holes for seeds, bulbs and seedlings. We have a nice selection of oak timber dibbers as well as some stainless steel ones, the timber ones have calibrated rings to indicate depth and take the guesswork out of planting. Oak Dibber – FSC Timber with calibrated planting depth rings
8. Digging Spade
A decent digging spade is always needed in the garden, in my opinion the best one to use is a stainless steel type. Regular spades easily rust and the soil tends to stick to them whereas a good stainless steel spade stays smooth making digging that much easier. Stainless Steel Digging Spade – Burgon & Ball
7. Garden Trowel
Hand tools like garden trowels and hand forks are some of the most used gardening tools, so the best trowel should have a comfortable handle with a well fitted blade that won’t come loose after time. This transplanting trowel from Burgon & Ball has a comfortable ash timber handle with a stainless steel blade with planting depths etched into the face. Stainless Steel Transplanting Trowel from Burgon & Ball
Chillington Tools (the crocodile range), need no introduction on this site, they are the cornerstone of our garden tools list. Chillington hoes all have their digging blades at a right angle to the handle, in the traditional ‘Mattock’ style, this gives better leverage making digging alot easier. The Chillington ‘Canterbury’ fork hoe/azada breaks up soil faster, and with less effort than any other digging fork. Chillington Fork hoe
5. Garden Knife
A small knife is often needed in the garden for cutting string, sticks and flowers, trimming fruit and vegetable plants and many other jobs. It’s a good habit to carry one in your pocket or garden trug. Opinel knives have a very sharp blade that folds into the wooden handle. These knives were ranked in the top 100 most beautiful products in the world by the Victoria and Albert Museum. Opinel No8 Folding Pocket Knife
4. Garden Secateurs
Any garden needs constant maintenance and a good garden secateurs is an invaluable tool to have for any pruning jobs. The secateurs we recommend is the Classic Felco no4, they are affordable bypass secateurs that will last a lifetime. Classic Felco No4 Secateurs
3. Heavy Duty Hoe
Another appearance by Chillington tools here on our list. This time it is the heavy duty garden hoe. This hoe is ideal for breaking new ground and will do so much easier than a spade or shovel. Like the fork hoe, it’s blade is set at a right angle to the handle allowing the lever action to minimise effort required. Chillington Heavy Duty Hoe
2. Golden Gark
The Golden Gark is a multipurpose garden maintenance tool, it is a rake, shovel and soil sift in one. This lightweight tool is ideal for clearing up weeds or fallen autumn leaves and much more. The Golden Gark
1. Oscillating Hoe
This is another tool that needs no introduction on this site, the oscillating hoe is a long handled garden hoe with a swivel head. The long handle enables you to hoe an entire raised bed from the same position and the swivel action head cuts on both the puch and the pull stroke sharpening itself as it goes. The oscillating hoe
For many more useful gardening tools, please visit our online tool store.
Made with comfort flex technology and breathable nylon, The Handmaster Bella Comfort Flex garden gloves are a great pick for all of your gardening needs. The glove's water-resistant nylon helps keep hands dry during messy gardening tasks, while the double-coated nitrile palms give you extra durability and grip.
Their stylish yet comfortable design also features a knitted wrist, which helps prevent dirt from collecting inside the cuff of the gloves. They are also available in three different size options to help you find the perfect fit. At 1.92 ounces, these gloves are a great lightweight option to add to your tool shed.
We bought three top-rated gardening tools that our reviewer tested for 25 hours. We asked our tester to consider the most important features when using these tools, from the quality of material to their effectiveness. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
Material Plastic is lightweight and easy to clean but can break under stress. Metal lasts a long time but can rust without proper care. Metal tools also often have wooden handles that are attractive but can dry out over time.
Grip Comfort If holding onto a tool isn’t comfortable, then you won’t be using it for long. Some handles are cushioned to provide more comfort and minimize blistering.
Effectiveness For shovels and trowels, look for a sharp edge and consider how the handle is attached to the head. If the shovel has a metal sleeve that wraps around the handle, make sure it’s reinforced with a screw or rivet.