The Best Shovel Buying Guide

Almost every people in the world know what spades and shovels are. The history of the shovel goes back 12,000 years, and since then, nothing much has changed. Humans still use it to dig, throw, clean, and do other things, but only one thing has changed – 12,000 years ago, they used bones as a shovel. Nowadays we use plastic, metal, and other materials as shovels.

Ok, maybe one more thing – we have a different shovel for each job. There are 8 types of shovels and here is some information about them to help you choose one that you might like.

Types of Shovel

PRODUCT IMAGE

NAME

PRICE

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Digging shovel - Best shovel
Fiskars Long Handle Round Point Steel Digging Shovel
Best soil scoop - Best shovel
Fiskars Fiber Composite Soil Scoop (7068)
Post hole diggers - Best shovel
Ames Post Hole Digger with Ruler - 2701600
Drain spade - Best shovel
Fiskars 46 Inch Steel D-handle Transplanting Spade
Scrapers - Best shovel
GardenAll 7'' Forged Sidewalk Ice Scraper and 11T Shrub Rake Long Handle Garden Tools Set
Scoop showels - Best shovel
True Temper #12 Aluminum Scoop with D-Grip and Hardwood Handle - 2681200
Trench shovels - Best shovel
Seymour S702 48-Inch Fiberglass Handle Trenching Shovel
Edger - Best shovel
The AMES Companies, Inc 2917200 Border Edger, Black

YOU CAN GET A BETTER DIGGING SHOVEL IF YOU ARE BUYING IT SEPARATELY – HANDLE AND SCOOP

Digging Shovels

Digging shovel - Best shovel


Digging shovel

There is not much to say about this type of shovel. As the name indicates – it’s used for digging. I think everybody knows how a digging shovel looks. They have a curved scoop with edges that go up. There are also shovels with flat tips, however, I don’t personally like those. And don’t choose aluminum shovels, go for steel, neither should you choose a plastic shovel handle instead of metal (shovel will be heavier though) or wood (wood is the best material for handles, but needs proper treatment).

Soil scoops

Best soil scoop - Best shovel

Best soil scoop

It’s not all the time that you need to do big jobs. Sometimes, you just need to put some soil into a flower pot or dig out some small plants. For those small tasks, there is a soil scoop. This is a very handy tool, and you need to add it to your tool list. It’s mostly a small scoop that you can use to do small diggings, like making holes for plants, digging out small plants or putting fertilizer or soil in the garden.

Post hole diggers

Post hole diggers - Best shovel

Post hole diggers

I have had experience in using this tool a few times before, and I can tell you that it’s more like a workout. A post hole digger is used for making a hole for a post. It can be a fence, a tree, bush, patio supports, anything. I actually use this to plant potatoes too. And you can get the right depth with this digger.

There are a few variations of this tool. Those that are meant for more professional jobs are more mechanical in nature. A manual one (as depicted in the picture below), requires more hard work if used on the hard ground.

Drain spades

Drain spade - Best shovel

Drain spade

Drain spades are one hell of a tool, especially if you have a beautiful and existing garden. This is the best shovel for digging holes, trenches or if you want to transplant small plants or shrubs. You can do very precise digging with this tool. used a 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 in and for transplanting plants, you will not damage other plant’s roots. I use this spade for work as well. As an electrician, I sometimes dig trenches for electric cables. Perfect!

Scrapers

Scrapers Best shovel

Scrapers

I haven’t seen this tool in many tool lists, but I find it very useful, especially if you have winter and pavement. Scrapers are a good shovel for scraping ice and debris from pavement or roof. As the title says – you can scrape stuff 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 a multi-tool.

Scoop Shovels (Throwing shovels)

Scoop showels - Best shovel

Scoop showels

This type of shovel is mostly used to move materials, like soil, leaves, debris, snow, grain, etc. Shovels made from plastic are used for snow and are known as snow shovels. Aluminum shovels are for mowing grain and food for animals or making flour. Steel shovels are used to move debris and other hard materials because it’s hard to damage. In the common garden shovel tool list, you will need a winter shovel (if you have winter where you live) and steel shovel for debris or other hard materials. Remember, a steel shovel is quite heavy, and while you can use one that is made from aluminum, it will break easier and will start to twist or warp over time.

Trenching shovels

Trench shovels - Best shovel

Trench shovels

Trenching shovels or trench shovel is something similar to drain spades. Drain spades are more on digging up something. With a trenching shovel, you can clean what you dug up as well. It has a pointed and sharp tip with squared sides. It helps produce a clean trench with no damage to the surrounding soil. The trenching shovel is good for digging trenches for cables, pipes, or a trench for composting.

Edgers

Edger Best shovel

Edger

An edger is more like a knife or a cutter than a shovel, but it still belongs to the shovel family. It is regarded as a pizza cutter in the gardening world and one of the best shovels for gardening you can have. You can clean the driveway, border, and other places, 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. It’s perfect.

Tips for choosing a shovel

  • 1
    If you don't have one yet, buy a simple digging tool shovel, to begin with. You can do almost everything with it, trenching, weeding, digging ditches, trimming, etc. It's a multi-use tool.
  • 2
    The shape of the blade of the shovel depends on the quality of the soil in your yard. For a digging loose soil, a rectangular blade digging shovel is recommended. But for the new lands, a rounded one is better suited for the job. Even if you an existing garden, buy a rounded shovel, especially if the soil is hard. 
  • 3
    The material from which the shovel is made of is important as too. The most popular and cheapest shovels are made of steel. I have a tip - if you want to check the quality of shovel, tap on the table, if you hear a ringing sound, then you can buy it - it's a durable and reliable shovel.  
  • 4
    When working on hard soil or hard ground areas, it's better to use a shovel that is made from a lightweight composite material and with stainless steel blades. I suggest you choose a shovel, where one side is a saw, it will be easier to dig up areas with hard soil with this. Plus, stainless steel is hard to break. 
  • 5
    Very popular among gardeners is a shovel called "American Shovel". It has a curved blade with a Teflon coating. The shovel 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 is their lightness and strength. It does not corrode, does not rust, and is way more durable the stainless steel. To check if the shovel is real or fake titanium do this - try to make a scratch with some metal object - it is leaves scratches or some color, it's fake titanium.  
  • 7
    When choosing a shovel, pay attention to how the handle is fixed to the blade. The best option is a bolt and fiberglass handle because it gives durability that resists bending and breaking. But if the attachment is with a small screw or just pressed in, it will serve maybe one year. 
  • 8
    Check the shovel length – it must be 3.9 inches (10cm) below your shoulder.
  • 9
    Whatever shovel you choose, it should be easy to use and must be durable and not very heavy. You will get tired quickly with heavy shovels, but remember, lightweight shovels are less durable! Don't try to buy one "universal" shovel if you are doing different jobs. Consider buying a different shovel for each job. 
  • 10
    If you have winter, where you live, 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 that has a saw part. It's one side of the blades, which most of the time, have double steel for sharpening or a saw for cutting. 
  • 12
    When digging up an existing garden, most experts say that a shovel-fork is best. This will help add air to the soil and will make breaking clumps relatively easy. 
  • 13
    You can buy other types of shovels. I have mentioned in the beginning but only if you really need them. Otherwise, there's no point to them. 

REMEMBER TO CLEAN YOUR SHOVEL AFTER WORKING WITH DIRT, TO PROTECT IT FROM RUSTING AND STORE IN A DRY PLACE. SHARPEN BLADE ONCE OR TWICE PER SEASON.

The Best shovels list

1. Fiskars Long Handle Digging Shovel

Fiskars Long Handle Digging Best shovel

Fiskars Long Handle Digging Shove

This is a high-quality shovel from Fiskars. It’s the best shovel to use for digging because it’s durable and if anything happens – it has a lifetime warranty. The only thing is it’s a little bit heavy, but that’s not a problem. Some people may have reported that they broke it on the first day, and yes that’s possible - if you are hitting rocks with it. But again, Fiskars will give you a new one for free. The handle is not very comfortable for gardening though, but it’s easy to dig a pool with or even something deeper.

2. Lesche with Serrated Blade

Lesche 1V_WWMFG-32-SER T- Handle Heavy Duty Metal Detecting Shovel with Serrated Blade - Best shovel

Lesche 1V_WWMFG-32-SER T- Handle Heavy Duty Metal Detecting Shovel with Serrated Blade

This is one of the best heavy duty shovels and it is made from aircraft material that is built for people who are doing metal detecting. But I found this shovel perfect for my garden because it’s very durable, has different blade sides, and it weighs only 3 pounds.

3. Fiskars 46 Inch Steel D-handle Square Garden Spade

Fiskars 46 Inch Steel D-handle Square Garden Spade - Best shovel

Fiskars 46 Inch Steel D-handle Square Garden Spade

This is the shovel I own. I have it for 7 years now and use 2 of them for almost daily digging. I usually dig trenches for cables in old areas which are full of stones and rocks. And you know what – nothing has ever happened to my shovel. There’s only a little bit of paint is that came off, and it’s not even rusting there. The only bad thing about this shovel (and it’s a very small one at that) is that you may need to add some metal screws to the handle because it only comes with one and it might cause the handle to get detached from the shovel.

4. True Temper True American Garden Spade

True Temper True American Garden Spade - Best shovel

True Temper True American Garden Spade

This shovel has a steel blade that is quite durable. and has a D-grip handle, which is excellent and is very comfortable. The handle is made of wood and is very thick and sturdy. You won’t break it. This shovel is excellent for digging trenches, cleaning ditches, transplanting trees and shrubs.

5. Homegrown Garden Tools Soil scoop

Garden Trowel with Ergonomic Handle from Homegrown Garden Tools - Best shovel

Garden Trowel with Ergonomic Handle from Homegrown Garden Tools;

A nice and durable soil scoop, the handle feels perfect in your hands, and even when it’s wet, it’s not slippery. Even if you’re trying to dig some hard soil, the scoop will not bend. High-quality at a low price.

Final Thoughts on the Best Shovel

That’s about everything about shovels and I hope you have a clearer picture of what kind of shovel you need so you can make a better choice. You have to remember that the best shovel is not necessarily one that has all the stops or even the most expensive ones. One that is perfect for your intended use and makes your life easier would be the best choice and that is dependent on a lot of things - primarily your preference.

If you want to get the best transplanting shovel, you may not need a folding shovel, an avalanche shovel, or a survival shovel. I think you would agree that a garden shovel that is fit for the task would do just fine, if not better. A good shovel is one that is up to the task and you have to make sure that you get that one.

So before you decide on getting the best shovel money can buy, make sure you’ve done your due diligence and researched on what you need. Later, I will make a separate article about soil scoops, because they deserve one.

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