Spade vs Shovel: What’s Best For You 

 March 18, 2022

By  admin

This is a question about which tool to use for a task.
I am an expert at shoveling, or rather I was until my arthritis got out of hand and now all the pain in my back prevents me from working as hard and fast as I used to be able to do with ease. Nowadays it takes more time and effort just getting up off the floor!
The spade has been around much longer than the shovel so it’s advisable that you get one if you’re going to start digging today, seeing how they are still being made by hand today.
See that? The spade would’ve saved your back because it only took 15 minutes while taking 20 hours with a shovel, not counting any breaks!:)

A spade is a type of garden tool that is usually used to dig, turn soil, and remove weeds. There are two types of spades: the shovel and the hoe. The shovel has a slightly curved blade with a pointed end while the hoe has a broad-bladed head with an offset handle.

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Finding the correct tools and equipment for a newbie gardener might be difficult. It might be difficult to distinguish between two tools, especially when they seem to be quite similar. Similarly, a spade and a shovel are both used to excavate dirt, but their functionality and range of use are vastly different.

Despite the fact that they both dig and move dirt for the same goal, they are fundamentally different. Both of these goods differ substantially in terms of composition, weight, blade forms, and diameters. 

Even if the ultimate decision will be based on your primary goal and a few other considerations, this in-depth comparison will help you choose the best tool. 

Key Features and Specifications of a Spade compared. a Shovel

Here’s a table that summarizes all you need to know to make an informed decision:

The blade’s shapeIn a variety of forms, both straight and flatWith upturned edges, like a scoop
Length of ShaftShafts that are shorterSize is larger.
Handle DimensionsUsually in the form of a ‘D’ or a ‘T.’Shorter but with a variety of forms
The most common applicationHole-digging, furrows with straight edgesMaterials are being moved and plants are being relocated.

Continue reading for a more in-depth examination of both of these gardening tools.


A spade is a kind of gardening equipment that is primarily used to dig into dirt. In comparison to a shovel, it features a rectangular blade that is somewhat stunted and flat. Keep in mind that the blade’s edges are both sharp and straight. 

The handle is usually in the form of a ‘T’ or a ‘D.’ The blade of a spade is generally parallel to its handle, which distinguishes it from a shovel. A spade’s tip may either be square, pointy, or rounded.

Unlike a shovel, which is primarily used to transfer dirt and other loose materials, the design of a spade is more suited to digging.

Are you a novice when it comes to gardening? Are you unsure which gardening equipment to use? Here’s a comprehensive list of 57 useful gardening equipment for you!

Spade Characteristics 

Some common Spade Characteristics include:

Garden Spade No. 1

The most basic digging implement is undoubtedly a garden spade. It’s easy to locate in any backyard or garden. These knives often have a short ‘D’ handle and a flat blade.

This is mostly used for turning dirt or weed removal. Laying a flower bed or evening out the borders of a sidewalk or a soil bed are examples of additional applications. 

Treads on a garden spade are supports or steps for the feet to make it easier to push it into the ground.

2. Spade Transplanting

A transplanting spade is used to relocate seedlings or plants, as the name implies. As a result, they feature a thin blade built specifically for them. 

Its handle is generally shorter than that of a drain spade, but the blade is long and curved to allow for ease plant handling. It’s also great for digging troughs and tight holes.

3. Spade of Ireland

An Irish Spade is notable for its durability. It is made of solid carbon steel and features a treaded pattern. 

Irish spades are known for their long handles and are best used in clayey soils. They feature stainless steel blades and lengthy hardwood shafts.

Sharpshooter Spade (#4)

Sharpshooter spades, also known as tile spades, have a thin blade designed for digging accurate holes. These often have a rounded tip and are quite sturdy.

Shrubs, rose bushes, and smaller trees are also transplanted using these. These are also lightweight and feature metal collars that are strengthened.

Turfing Iron No. 5

Turfing irons are the only spades that have a heart-shaped blade. It’s a specialized instrument for lifting and paring grass. This tool also has a long handle that is angled toward the blade to make grass relocation easier.

The ergonomically designed grip of this spade prevents back strain and stress. It’s commonly composed of carbon steel, so it’s weather-resistant and long-lasting.

Loy Spade, No. 6

A Loy Spade is similar to an Irish Spade, but with a few differences. It has a long and heavy handle, a single footrest, and a narrow steel plate for the blade. 

Although it is no longer extensively utilized, its primary functions were physically plowing land and digging tidy furrows.

Skimming Spade, No. 7

A weed spade, also known as a skimming spade, is extremely good in removing weeds. It may also be used to plow hard soil.

It features a durable resin-coated handle and a distinctive ‘V’ shaped blade. The slim form enables for easy weed removal and smooth sliding into the ground.

When Should You Use a Spade?

If necessary, use a spade:

  • Make the earth more pliable.
  • Make a trench
  • A straight-edged pit or dirt bed should be dug.
  • Sod is sliced and lifted.
  • Dissolve the lumps in the soil.
  • Plow the dirt by hand


Another gardening hand tool is a shovel, which is used to dig, lift, and transport loose materials. A shovel’s main components are the grip (or handle), the shaft, the collar, the kick plate, the blade, and the tip. A shovel has a concave blade with a scoop form, according to one guideline. Sharp, rounded, or pointed ends are possible.

Shovels, unlike spades, have a wider blade and a longer handle. A shovel is mostly used to transport bulk goods from one location to another due to its scoop-shaped blade and raised edges. Other applications include material extraction, soil churning, and breaking up lumps of dirt. 

Are you looking for a way to ignite your child’s interest in gardening? Take a look at our product review guide to find the finest garden equipment for kids!

Shovels Come in a Variety of Shapes and Sizes

Here are a few common Shovels Come in a Variety of Shapes and Sizes:

1. Shovel for Edging

An edging shovel, like a conventional spade, aids in the creation of straight and defined lines around soil beds or borders. These feature a lengthy shaft that ends with a metal blade that looks like a semi-circle. 

The footrest is straight, which makes digging easier. The blade, on the other hand, is smaller and hence does not harm surrounding plants.

2. Digger Shovel with a Point

This shovel’s pointed blade makes it ideal for digging through dense and difficult soils. The edges of the blade are curled upwards, while the shaft is long and constructed of wood or metal.

Furthermore, the blade may assist in the transport of the dug-up material. Additionally, the footrest may be used to increase pressure and dig deeper.

3. Shovel for Snow

These snow shovels have long shafts and broad rectangular blades, making them ideal for clearing snow off roads, patios, and sidewalks. 

These come in a range of materials, including wood, plastic, and metal. Some even include grooves or tracks on the blade tip to aid with ice scooping. The blade is also vertically bent to help with snow gathering.

4. Shovel for scooping

The blade of this kind is substantially bigger than other shovels, since it is evidently designed to scoop up or gather stuff. The shaft, on the other hand, is shorter and the tip is flat. 

Aside from that, the edges are hard and upright to grip and carry huge amounts of loose items such as dirt, soil, gravel, and so on. Scoop shovels constructed of aluminum, wood, and other metals are available on the market.

When choosing a scoop shovel, keep in mind that metal shovels are more durable than aluminum and will perform better in difficult jobs.

5. Shovel with a Handle

A standard garden trowel is referred to as a handheld shovel. These may be found in a wide range of forms and styles. These, on the other hand, are most often seen with short shafts and sharp blades. Keep in mind that the blades may be concave and have hard upturned edges.

These are small and light, making them ideal for transporting about the garden. These may also be used to sow seeds, transplant seedlings, and move dirt about.

6. Shovel for digging post holes

A post-hole shovel is made up of two shovels that are linked to each other. It works especially well for digging deep holes for poles and fence posts. The holes that arise are tidy and don’t take much effort to fill.

Digging the earth, squeezing, twisting, and raising the soil is the proper technique to utilize this. A rectangular-shaped hole in the dirt may be excavated in one action.

Power Shovel, No. 7

This is basically an electronic version of the classic shovel that is controlled by hand. The shovel, which is usually propelled by electricity, is made up of rotating blades that sweep up the materials. These are efficient and handy, but they are, predictably, costly.

In hard soil, power shovels are usually used to dig precise holes or trenches.

8. A Shovel for Planting Trees

This kind, aptly dubbed tree-planting shovels, makes tree-planting more easier and simpler. The blades are thin, and the points are curled or pointed. The finest advantage is that these shovels can be used for a variety of tasks and can dig holes of various sizes.

Because they have a similar form to digging shovels, they may also be used to dig trenches.

When Should You Use a Shovel?

If you need to use a shovel, choose one of the following: 

  • Move the dirt about.
  • Move large amounts of loose materials.
  • Cut through the earth or the roots
  • Dig bigger and deeper holes. 

Grounds for Comparison: Spade vs. Shovel

Let’s compare the two tools based on key criteria now that you’re familiar with their properties, kinds, and typical applications. 


Only a few materials go into making a standard gardening equipment. A spade or shovel, for example, is generally composed of wood, aluminum, fiberglass, or steel. Each of these materials has advantages and disadvantages.

Of course, a spade or shovel made largely of wood is powerful and durable, but it will not age well. The wood may splinter, making it difficult to use over time.

Fiberglass equipment will survive for a long time. Its structure will not degrade over time. However, since it is a more expensive choice, it will need a higher investment.

Working using a steel spade or shovel may be the most durable option. It won’t bend under pressure, but it will be difficult to work with. 

Aluminum will be another option. It will be a reasonably priced choice. However, be careful that it is prone to bending and, in some circumstances, breaking.

Bonus Read: Have you ever wished for a beautiful green lawn? Take a look at the top 5 hover mowers to purchase in 2022!

Size & Weight 

Size and weight should also be considered while deciding between a spade and a shovel. Although a standard garden spade is longer than a shovel, it’s crucial to realize that the weight varies greatly depending on the kind of material used. A tool made of metal or wood will be heavier than one made of aluminum. 

The tool’s ease of use is also heavily influenced by its weight and size. A heavier instrument, for example, will be more difficult to move about and operate with. The shaft’s length is also essential. The reason for this is because a shorter tool will force the user to bend often, producing back pain. 


Prices for spades and shovels are likely to be comparable. The only differences will be due to the tool’s size and the materials utilized to make it. 

Carbon fiber or reinforced metal tools are more likely to be costly since they provide strength and longevity. Similarly, those made of wood or aluminum may be less expensive.

Prices may vary from $10 to $50, but remember that choosing a decision only on the basis of price is not a smart idea. Instead, consider all other considerations before making a decision.

Size, Shape, and Length of Blades

A gardening tool’s blade may be used to dig into the earth, transport items, or dig trenches. The blades and tips of spades and shovels are becoming more identical.

Remember that a spade’s blade is flat, straight, and rectangular, but a shovel’s blade is more like a scoop. A shovel’s blades are also curved and shorter. 

A spade has a sharp blade for digging, and a shovel has a blade with raised edges for transferring things, to make its primary roles easier.

Are you looking for more garden hand tools? Here you’ll find the greatest gardening hand tools.

Handle & Shaft

While it may not seem to be a significant element at first look, picking the appropriate handle is crucial. Not just because it determines the grip, but also because the correct handle, to some part, determines the tool’s function.

A spade’s shorter handle will have a ‘D’ or ‘T’ form. This will provide the user more leverage and allow them to apply maximum force with ease.

On the other hand, a shovel will have a longer handle. The handle is mostly slanted forward to aid scooping. 

The most common applications

If all you want to do is dig into the earth, a spade is ideal. Its sharp edges will aid in the establishment of soil beds, flower beds, and the evening out of sidewalks. It may also dig up smaller holes and level the earth.

A shovel may be used for a variety of tasks, but it is ideal for moving items, excavating hard soil, slicing through the earth, and digging trenches. It may also be quite useful for planting trees.

In every garden, spades and shovels are equally essential equipment. They may seem to be similar, but they are not interchangeable. As a result, make an informed decision!

The Final Analysis of Spade vs. Shovel

Let’s sum everything up:

When Should You Use a Spade?

  • precisely digging holes, troughs, or trenches
  • Furrows with a straight edge
  • Sidewalk edging
  • Plowing by hand
  • How to Get Rid of Weeds
  • Hard earth is being loosened.

Where Should You Use a Shovel?

  • Creating bigger holes
  • soil repositioning 
  • Bulk material transportation
  • Seedlings are being transplanted.
  • Planting or relocating trees


To sum up, the spade vs. shovel debate has varied outcomes for different people. The ultimate decision is based on a person’s gardening objectives and other important criteria. As a result, it’s critical to understand both tools’ requirements. 

We hope that this post has helped you understand the key differences between the two tools and that you will make the best option possible.

30 Beautiful Backyard Landscaping Design Ideas (further reading)

The “5 uses of spade” is a question that has been asked for a long time. The answer to the question is not exactly clear, but it’s something that you should consider before buying one.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a spade better than a shovel?

A: Yes.

What works better than a shovel?

A: A shovel is a tool for digging, not fighting.

What is the main difference between a spade and a shovel?

Related Tags

  • spade vs shovel vs trowel
  • what is a spade used for
  • what is a shovel used for
  • garden spade
  • digging spade

Emil Schoene

Born and raised in Austin, TX I come from a background of home renovation. By helping my family in my younger years with their construction business, I learned the ropes quickly and as I grew it became my passion that I still do today. Looking to share my knowledge with others. I invite you to leave comments on any post as I know you will have questions that you are not finding anywhere else.

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