Best shovel buying guide 2017
Almost every people in the world know what the spades and shovels are. Shovel history started 12,000 years ago, and since today, nothing much have changed. Humans still use it to dig, throw, clean and do other things, but only one thing that has changed – 12,000 years ago they used bones as a shovel. In nowadays we use plastic, metal, and other material shovels. Ok, maybe one more thing – we have a different shovel for each job. As I know, there are 8 types of shovels. Here are small introductions to each type.
1. Digging Shovels
There is nothing much to say. As the title says – it’s used for digging. I think everybody knows how digging shovel looks. They have a curved scoop with edges who goes up. There are also shovels with flat tips, which I don’t like because they are useless for me. And don’t choose aluminum shovels, go for steel. And don’t choose plastic handles, go for metal (shovel will be heavier tho) or wood (wood is the best material for handles, but needs proper treatment).
You can get a better digging shovel if you are buying it separately – handle and scoop
2. Soil scoops
Not all the time you will need to do big jobs. Sometimes you will need to put some soil into the flower pot or dig out some small plants, and there comes soil scoop. This is a very handy tool, and you need it to your tool list. Mostly it’s a small scoop, and you can do small diggings with it, like making holes for plants, digging out small plants or putting fertilizer or soil in the garden.
3. Post hole diggers
I have used this tools for a few times, and I can tell you that this more than a workout. Post hole digger is used for making a hole for something. It can be a fence, a tree, bush, patio supports, anything. I actually used this to plant potatoes too. That’s pretty good, and you can get right deepness with this digger. There are few variations for this tool, some of them are meant for a more professional job, so they are more mechanical, but for example in the photo, it’s manual, so it’s hard to work with it if the soil is hard.
4. Drain spades
Drain spades are one hell of a tool. Especially if you have a beautiful and existing garden. With this spade, you can dig small holes, trenches or transplant small plants or shrubs. You can do very precise digging with this spade. I used drain spade to dig a trench for my mother’s decorative sidewalk (not really for walking). It’s great because you don’t damage soil or grass where the sidewalk will not be and for transplanting plants – you will not damage other plant roots. I’m using this spade for working also – I work as an electrician, so I’m digging trenches for electricity cables. Perfect!
I have never seen this tool in my tool list, but I find it very useful, especially if you have winter and pavement. Scrapers are good for scraping ice and debris from pavement or roof. As the title says – you can scrape something with it. But you can also use it for cutting lawn edges or garden edges. This tool also is useful if you want to eliminate weeds. I would call this multi-tool.
6. Scoop Shovels (Throwing shovels)
This type of shovel is mostly used to move some materials, like soil, leaves, debris, snow, grain, etc. Shovels from plastic are used for snow and are know as snow shovels. Aluminum shovels are for mowing grain and some other food for animals or making flour. Steel shovels are used to move debris and other hard materials because it’s hard to damage it. Mostly, in common garden tool list, you will need winter shovel (if you have winter) and steel shovel for debris or other hard material. Remember, that steel shovel is quite heavy and you can use the one made from aluminum, but it will break easier and will start to twist or warp over time.
7. Trenching shovels
Trenching shovels are something similar to drain spades. Drain spades are more like to dig up something, and with a trenching shovel, you can clean it. It has a pointed and sharp tip and squared sides. It helps to produce clean trench and no damage to surrounding soil. The trenching shovel is good for digging trenches for cables, pipes or a trench for composting.
Edger is more like a knife or a cutter than a shovel, but it still belongs to shovel family. This is a pizza cutter in the gardening world. You can clean driveway, border, and other parts and of course, you can separate ground with this. You can also use it for cutting a slot for irrigation tubing. I’m using something like this (but handmade) for cleaning pavement borders. Perfect.
Tips for choosing a shovel
1. If you don’t have one, in the beginning, buy a simple digging shovel. You can do almost everything with it, trenching, weeding, digging ditches, trimming, etc. It’s multi-use tool.
2. The shape of shovels blade depends on to the quality of the soil in your yard. For digging loose soil best-suited will be digging shovel with a rectangular blade, and for the new lands – with rounded. Even if you have existing garden, but the soil is hard, buy a rounded shovel.
3. Important also is material from which the shovel is made. The most popular and cheapest shovels are made of steel. I have a tip – if you want to check the quality of shovel, just tap on the blade, if you hear a ringing sound, then you can buy it – it’s durable and reliable shovel.
4. To work in hard soil areas, it’s better to use a shovel which is made from a lightweight composite material and with a stainless steel blade. I suggest to choose a shovel, where on one side is a saw, it will be easier to dig up areas with hard soil. And stainless steel is hard to break.
5. Very popular among gardeners are a shovel which is called “American Shovel’. It has a curved blade with a Teflon coating. A handle is made from eucalyptus which is anti-slip. The good thing about Teflon is the fact that the soil does not stick to the blade.
6. Titanium shovels – the main advantage of them are lightness and strength. It does not corrode, does not rust and is way more durable that stainless steel. To check if the shovel is real or fake titanium do like this – try to make a scratch with some metal object – if it leaves scratches or color, it’s fake titanium.
7. When you are choosing a shovel, pay attention to the method how the handle is fixed to a blade. The best option is a bolt, but if there is some attachment with a small screw or just pressed in, it will serve maybe one year.
8. Check the shovel length – it must me 3,9inch (10cm) below your shoulder.
9. Whatever shovel you choose, it should be easy to use, and it must be durable and not very heavy. From heavy shovels, you will get tired quickly, but remember, that lightweight shovels are less durable! Don’t try to buy one “universal” if you are doing different jobs a lot. Think about buying a different shovel for each job.
10. If you have winter, buy a snow shovel and use it only for winter. Don’t try to do other jobs with it, because you will break it.
11. If you have a lot of roots or you have hard soil, choose a shovel, which has a saw part. It’s one side of the blade, which most of the times have double steel for sharpening or a saw for cutting.
12. For digging up existing garden, experts are saying that you need to use shovel-fork. It will add air to the soil and will break up clumps.
13. Another type of shovels which I was mentioning, in the beginning, you can buy if you really need them. Otherwise, there is no point of that.
Remember to clean shovel after working from dirt, protect it from rusting and store in a dry place. Sharpen blade once or twice per season.
A high-quality shovel from Fiskars. Best shovel to use for digging, it’s durable and if anything happens – it has lifetime warranty. Only it’s a little bit heavy, but that’s not a problem. Some people have reported that they broke it on the first day – yes that’s possible if you are hitting rocks with it. And again – Fiskars will give you a new one for free. The handle is not very comfortable for gardening, but it’s easy to dig a pool with it or something deeper.
The shovel is made from aircraft material are built for people who are doing metal detecting. But I found this shovel perfect for my garden because it’s very durable, different blade sides and it weights only 3 pounds.
This is the shovel I’m owning. I have it for 7 years and 2 of them almost daily digging. I’m digging trenches for cables in old areas which are full of stones and rocks. And you know – nothing happened to my shovel, only paint is off, but it’s not even rusting there. The only bad thing – Immediately when buying this shovel – screw some metal screws in handle, because it comes with only one and it will get off soon.
Nice and durable soil scoop. The handle feels perfect in hands and even when it’s wet, it’s not slippery. Even when trying to dig some hard soil, the scoop did not bend. High-quality and low price.
That’s everything about the shovels. I hope the picture in your head is much clearer about the shovels and now you can choose better. Later I will make a separate article about soil scoops, because they deserve one separate article.