Garden Gear - Garden Tools

Spades and shovels for all your garden tasks

Our contributors dig up the dirt on spades and shovels

Shovel and spade reviews 

Like all Gardena products, this spade has a really lovely, heavy-duty hardwood shaft, which is reinforced with steel at the base. The advantage here is the ability to use several heads with the same shaft, and the various heads are very easy to switch. The tall handle will likely be most comfortable for gardeners 5'6” and taller, and since this isn't the lightest garden tool you'll ever use, it's probably best left to industrious diggers who can exert some extra muscle. Smallish scoop, rust-resistant paint. $45; handle: $60

A good example of an all-purpose garden shovel, this model is hefty and well constructed. The ample bowl is coated with a non-stick, rust-resistant finish, the blade can be sharpened and the five-foot shaft is made of strong, pliable hardwood. The absence of shoe-treads might be noticeable if you're dealing with heavy or compacted soils. $50

Before the days of political correctness, this tool would have been referred to as a lady's spade, but whatever your gender, you will find this smallish model useful for turning soil, digging planting holes and edging borders. Sporting a D-type hilt (handle) and a short, reinforced plastic shaft, the slick, slightly pock-marked finish of the spade itself is rust-resistant and designed for effortless cleaning-and, best of all, it's easy to sharpen. $23

pic If I were to go out tomorrow and buy a new garden spade, this would likely be the one I'd choose. The superb, stalwart handle is perfect for someone my size (5'11”). Although the solid construction adds weight to the base of the spade, it's nothing that a reasonably robust gardener can't handle. The head of the spade is made of stainless steel, so it's relatively lightweight, rust-resistant and easy to clean. The well-placed shoe-treads are an added bonus. $60; handle: $60

All-purpose shovels are usually relegated to garden grunt work and really only come into their own when garden spades are either insufficiently sturdy or too small. Ideal for shifting big loads and digging large planting holes for trees and shrubs, these heavy-duty shovels aren't intended for the more exacting tasks of the herbaceous border. The Yardworks Pro Grade shovel is powerfully constructed with a blade that can be sharpened and a Y-type hilt. Unfortunately, because of its short shaft, this spade was just too small for me to use comfortably, but would be well suited to gardeners
under 5'6”. $30

This shovel will perform best in lighter soils. In my own heavy clay, the bowl bent slightly under stress, and because of the lack of shoe treads, it also listed somewhat to the right (I'm right-footed as well as right-handed). This model boasts the beautifully crafted five-foot Gardena handle, reinforced with steel at the base, and a blade that can be sharpened and is coated with rust-resistant paint. $40; handle: $60

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