Types of Shovels: You Should Know About it

If we look at history, shovels have been around for as long as humans can be traced back. Of course, their form and structure have evolved over the years but the basic concept remains the same.

Shovels and scrapes play a pivotal role when it comes to gardening. Most gardeners own more than one type of shovels mainly because each type has its pros and cons.

Modern shovels are purpose-built and designed. They are constructed using corrosion and rust-resistant materials and come with sturdy handles. You will find shovels in a myriad of shapes, sizes, and types.

Some of the most common shovels that you will find at your local home depot are:

All shovels are designed for digging. However, in this case, by digging we mean hardcore digging. These are specifically designed to be durable and sturdy so that users can dig a hole or ditch in the ground, not just for moving some soil out of the way.

Digging shovels have a curved scoop, upturned edges and a pointed center (pointed left edge in some cases). The pointed tip shovels are used for digging on soft and tilled soil while the sharp flat tip digging shovels are used to dig holes in dry and hard soil.

PROS

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    Heavy-duty, durable and sturdy.
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    Long handle and wide base.
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    It usually has a one-piece design that prevents a breakthrough.
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    The long handle is usually made of fiberglass.

CONS

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    Can be expensive.

Best Digging Shovel

bully tools point shovel

Check out the Bully Tools 82515 14-Gauge Round Point Shovel with Fiberglass Long Handle if you’re looking for the best digging shovel. It’s reliable and comes with some amazing features.

Trenching Shovels

Apart from being used for digging, trenching shovels are purpose-built for clearing trenches. 

Just like digging shovels, they have a long handle but a wider base. They sport a sharp and pointed tip combined with square sides. Most of the trenching shovels are four to six inches wide and are specifically constructed to be precise.

The design is optimized to create neat and clean trench walls and to prevent disruption in the surrounding soil. These shovels are mainly used for digging a compost trench, removing a deep-rooted plant, for laying out pipelines as well as making slender swale runoffs.

PROS

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    It has a wide base, hence can be used for other digging tasks as well.
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    The sides are usually folded to retain soil.
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    The base is angled for easy digging.

CONS

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    Trenching shovels with wood handles can get cracks overtime.

Best Trenching Shovel

corona ss trench shovel

Check out the Corona SS 64104 General Purpose Trench Shovel if you’re looking for the best trenching shovel. It’s affordable and quite durable as well.

Drain Spades

Drain spades and trenching shovels have a lot in common, except that the former has a smaller handlebar. 

Unlike trenching shovels, drain spades have a round tip and curved edges. This shape and construction make them ideal for spot work like planting a flower in an existing flower bed, adding small shrubs, cleaning previously dug trenches, etc.

Since the spades are extensively used for transplanting things, they are also called transplanting spades. Their rounded tip makes transplanting easier since it does not damage the plant or the roots. 

Most of the drain spades come with a narrow, scoop-like base that retains the soil and does not disturb the soil and roots in the vicinity.

PROS

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    Ideal for transplanting plants and digging narrow yet deep holes.
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    Despite being narrow, it has enough space for placing your foot on it to force it inside the soil.
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    It does not disturb soil and roots in the vicinity.
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    It provides the user with a lot of control.

CONS

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    Some drain spades, due to sturdy construction, can be pretty heavy.

Best Drain Spade

fiskars d-handle transplanting spade

Check out the Fiskars 46 Inch Steel D-handle Transplanting Spade if you’re looking for the best drain spade. It’s lightweight and easy to use.

Scoop Shovels

These shovels are designed for moving material that is already dugout. It is mostly used on construction sites where piles of gravel and sand need to be moved. 

Most gardeners use it to transfer or move manure or soil from one spot to another or to a transportation vehicle or wheelbarrow.

Scoop shovels are designed in small and large sizes for all kinds of tasks. These shovels are either constructed using aluminum, polyurethane, or steel. 

Aluminum shovels are used for shoveling things like grain, fluffy compost, soil, etc.

Steel shovels, on the other hand, are designed for heavy-duty tasks like transferring cement, gravel, heavier soils, etc.

Polyurethane shovels are quite useful and among the most affordable options.

PROS

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    They have a very wide base for picking up more material in one go.
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    Most of them have an ergonomic design that maximizes comfort and safety.
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    Are contoured to prevent the material from sticking to the base.
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    The sides are bent to prevent the material from falling off.

CONS

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    The lighter duty ones will break if used for heavier stuff.

Best Scoop Shovel

ames poly scoop with hardwood handle

Check out the "Ames" 2682700 Poly Scoop if you’re looking for the best scoop shovel. It’s reliable and affordable.

Scrapers

They are designed and optimized for exactly what the name suggests. Scrapers’ origin can be traced back to flat-bladed shovels that are used to scrape driveways and rooftops. Similarly, scrapers are not meant for digging and scooping, they are used from scraping stubborn debris off different surfaced.

The most common use of a scraper includes scraping ice and snow off the driveway and walkways to prevent slipping. They are also used to remove shingles from the roof and come in handy while removing weeds that poke through walls or driveways.

They come in short and long sizes. The common scraper design consists of a handle (short or long) and a square, rectangle or partial triangle shaped base.

PROS

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    They are rust and corrosion-resistant.
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    Scrapers with long handles have grips for both the hands.
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    It is designed such that the user can use both hands and one foot for scraping.
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    It can also be used to scrape glue.

CONS

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    Cannot scrape paint with efficiency.

Best Scraper

Check out the Bully Tools 91340 Big Bully Flooring Scraper if you’re looking for the best scraper. It’s quite easy to use and maintain.

Check out the Bully Tools 91340 Big Bully Flooring Scraper if you’re looking for the best scraper. It’s quite easy to use and maintain.

Edgers

Just like scrapers, this tool is also derived from the flat-bladed shovel. As the name suggests, it is used to create smooth and sharp edges. 

They look a lot like pizza cutters. The handle is connected to a half moon blade that is used to cut through shallow materials.

Edgers are mostly used to clean up borders, separate and curb perennials, clean ground cover, etc. 

The tool works wonders while separating plants from offshoots. These tools, on contrary to the category they fall in, cannot be used to dig and pick up things. It's more of a precision and cleaning tool.

PROS

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    Has a very sharp edge.
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    It is usually made of sturdy steel.
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    Since it is not used to pick up heavy stuff, the handle hardly ever cracks.
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    Cutting is made easier with half moon blade.

CONS

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    Cannot cut into things deeper than 3 inches.

Best Edgers

garden weasel edge chopper

Check out the Garden Weasel Edge Chopper if you’re looking for the best edger. It is easy to hold and use.

Post Hole Diggers

Posthole diggers are heavily used mainly due to the versatility they come with. 

They are basically two shovels connected back to back with a hinge. They are used to pick soil, however, they cannot penetrate hard and dry soil. Hence, before using these, it is advised that you till the soil with the help of an ax or spade. If your soil is loose, you will get the best results.

The post hole digger is used to excavate holes for fence posts, patios holders, bulbs and whatnot. To use it, pull the handles apart, forced it into loosened soil and leave the handle. This leaves behind a neat and tidy hole.

These tools come in a variety of sizes and you can choose one depending on the task at hand. Even if you have a longer post hole digger but want a smaller hole, you can just push it half way into the soil. Most gardeners like to use it for planting trees.

PROS

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    It comes in a variety of sizes.
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    They are not really expensive and are easily available.
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    Durable and sturdy.
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    Corrosion and rust resistant.

CONS

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    Hinges can get stuck after a few years of usage but can always be changed.

Best post hole digger

seymour structron hercules post hole digger

Check out the Seymour Structron Hercules Post Hole Digger PD48 if you’re looking for the best post hole digger. It is very versatile and easy to use.

Wrapping it Up

The above-mentioned seven shovel types are the ones most commonly used. Most people confuse shovels, spades, and scoops. They all fall into the same category but have completely different uses.

Spades are used to dig deep into the earth and are relatively flatter. Shovels and scoops, on the other hand, are for scooping. Scoops are usually smaller in size and are handheld.

Most of the shovels, especially the ones designed for scooping and digging, are versatile and can be used for more than one purpose.

For example, if you buy a drain spade with a larger base, it can be used for the purpose it is designed for but can also double as a snow shovel. Most of the above products are interchangeable.

This article was all about helping you understand different types of shovels, their usages, their ebbs, and flows. Make sure to pick one that suits you the best.

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