- Whether it’s for weeding, breaking up soil, or digging beds, you need a good gardening shovel.
- The Fiskars Long-Handle Round-Point Steel Digging Shovel is easy to use and won’t break the bank.
- If you’re looking for a snow shovel, check out our guide to the best snow shovels.
While a shovel might not be your most thrilling purchase, at least one belongs in the tool shed of every gardener, whether they’re looking after a few potted plants or an extensive vegetable garden. The only question is which type of shovel or spade you need. Serious gardeners will likely have more than one.
That’s why we decided to do the research for you, and put together this list of the best shovels, spades, scoops, and trowels out there (read more on the different types of shovels, and which one may best fit your needs, here).
And while there is certainly no reason to break the budget on a shovel, it’s also true that you generally get what you pay for, and a quality garden tool should last many years with just a little care and maintenance.
Here are the best garden shovels and spades in 2021
- Best overall: Fiskars Long-Handle Round-Point Steel Digging Shovel
- Best short garden shovel: Bond Mini D-Handle Shovel
- Best garden spade: Fiskars D-Handle Garden Spade
- Best garden scoop: Ames D-Handle Aluminum Scoop
- Best garden trowel: Wilcox All Pro 14-Inch Trowel
Updated 04/05/2021: We still stand by our picks from last year, but we are going to give the Bully Tools 82515 a try this spring to see how it compares to our top pick from Fiskars, and determine whether it’s worth the step-up in price.
The best overall
No need to throw your back out digging in tough soil. The Fiskars Long-Handle Round-Point Steel Digging Shovel cuts through even compacted dirt and clods without breaking a sweat.
Pros: Extremely durable steel construction, welded blade and handle, lifetime guarantee
Cons: A bit heavy, not good for digging small holes
Before you can plant that beautiful rosebush, shade tree, or blooming perennial, you need to dig a hole big enough to contain the roots. With the Fiskars Long-Handle Round-Point Steel Digging Shovel, you’ll get the job done with less effort and sweat than with many lesser garden shovels. If you only choose one shovel for your garden, we recommend that this be the one.
This beauty of a tool has a 14-gauge steel blade and an 18-gauge steel handle welded together so the shovel won’t snap even under rugged use. It has a large foot platform so you can really throw your weight into your digging, and a rubbery orange grip to keep your gloved hands in place without slipping or sliding. (You are wearing gardening gloves while doing heavy yard work, right?)
The Fiskars Long-Handle Round-Point Steel Digging Shovel is 57.5 inches long, making it suitable for most average-height gardeners. But this isn’t the tool you want to use to plant seeds or do detail work.
The best short garden shovel
If you prefer short-handled shovels, or are working in tight quarters in a flowerbed, you’ll appreciate the sturdy construction, D-shaped handle for easy gripping, and compact size of the Bond Mini D-Handle Shovel.
Pros: Strong steel construction, D-shaped handle is easy to grip, reasonable price, easy to fit in your car’s trunk
Cons: Short-handled shovels can be hard on your back
While a long-handled shovel provides more leverage and allows you to remain more upright while digging, in some situations, a short-handled shovel is easier to work with.
If you are digging in a tightly defined area, are digging a trench, or are very short, you might prefer a shovel with a short handle. And if so, you’ll find the Bond Mini D-Handle Shovel to be the best choice.
But the entire shovel is only 27.6 inches long, which means that this tool can be hard on your back during extended sessions of digging. Instead of using for long digging sessions, this might be most useful for small digging jobs in flowerbeds, or for lifting and moving dirt and other garden debris.
The best garden spade
When it’s time to edge, move mulch or compost, or break through extra-tough soil, the Fiskars D-Handle Garden Spade is up to the job.
Pros: Very sturdy construction, sharp edge cuts cleanly through sod, compacted soil, and roots
Cons: D-shaped handle encourages a grip that might not be comfortable for some gardeners
Like the Fiskars Long-Handle Shovel, the Fiskars Spade has a 14-gauge steel blade welded to an 18-gauge steel handle that won’t break or bend even during the heaviest of gardening jobs.
The edge of the blade is sharp, so you’ll slice right through sod, hard soil, compacted roots, and tough weeds without much of a struggle. And the rubberized D-shaped grip gives you a little bit of extra leverage when needed. This is a useful tool for moving garden debris of all types.
The Fiskars garden spade is 47 inches long and weighs just under five pounds, so it’s light enough for long sessions but heavy enough that it can throw its weight around.
The square head is great for edge work or sectioning our garden plots.
The best garden scoop
When it’s time to move soil, leaves, gravel, mulch, or even snow from point A to point B, the Ames D-Handle Aluminum Scoop won’t let you down.
Pros: Sized just right for the best leverage without straining your back, sturdy construction
Cons: Not meant for digging, the shovel blade is thin so it may not hold up to heavy loads
Gardening often calls for moving various materials from one spot to another: You dug a hole, now you need to move the dirt, you’re spreading compost over your vegetable bed, or you need to move fallen leaves to the trash or scrape snow off your driveway.
For any of these tasks, plus many others, the Ames D-Handle Aluminum Scoop is designed to provide the most leverage for the most efficient use of your muscle power.
The wooden handle of the tool is 24.5 inches long and topped with a molded D-shaped plastic handle that’s easy to grip. The aluminum blade is 15 inches wide and 11 inches deep, so it’s roomy enough to get the job done without being too heavy. And it won’t rust or spark when scraped against the ground.
The best garden trowel
If you’re a container gardener, or just like to get down and dirty in your vegetable or flower garden, the Wilcox All Pro 14-Inch Trowel is a must-have.
A garden trowel is basically a small shovel with a long blade designed to be held in one hand for use in transplanting small plants and seedlings, planting individual bulbs, working in a container garden, removing individual weeds, or any other small gardening job that requires up-close, precise digging.
The Wilcox All Pro 14-Inch Trowel’s sturdy stainless steel blade comes to a sharp point so you can cut through soil with precision, almost coring out your plants for easy transplanting. You won’t be scooping much soil at a time with the small blade, but it’s great for smaller tasks that require more finesse.
While the 14-inch size is probably the handiest (that’s 14 inches from tip of the blade to the bottom of the handle), the trowel is also available in 9-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch sizes.
Pros: Extremely durable construction, sharp blade easily penetrates even clay or hard soil
Cons: Not for moving large amounts of soil
What are the different types of shovels?
- As a general rule, garden shovels have rounded, concave blades that come to a point. Shovels are mostly used to dig holes in dirt, but are also handy for moving soil, snow, or other loose materials.
- Typically, garden spades have slightly concave blades with a flat edge, and while not so good for digging holes, they are useful for cutting through sod, edging your lawn, or marking a trench.
- Garden scoops have wide, flat blades that rise up into small “walls” along the sides. This is the tool of choice for moving mulch, compost, dead leaves, hay, or other lightweight loose materials.
- Trowels are small garden tools designed for one-handed use. They have a long, shovel-shaped blade and a short handle. Use your trowel for transplanting or digging in containers, making small holes in the garden for new plants, or removing individual weeds.
Check out our other great gardening guides
- The best gardening tools
- The best rakes
- The best electric lawn mowers
- The best snow shovels
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