The 5 Best Garden Shovels To Buy In 2020

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best gardening shovels

A quality garden shovel is a must-have tool every homeowner should own.

Why? Because the best garden shovel will make quick work of digging holes for new plantings, keeping weeds at bay, and creating amazing new planter beds.

If I had to choose only one shovel from my top five picks, it would have to be the Root Assassin One Shot Garden Shovel. I appreciate the wings that hold the material in place and the blade shape that works well for both scooping and digging.

To make it easy to choose the right tool for your needs, I put together this guide, where I review the top five best garden shovels. I also explain why you need a garden shovel, the things to watch out for, and answer frequently asked questions.

Keep reading to find the perfect garden shovel that’ll make landscaping chores much more enjoyable!

Top 5 Best Garden Shovels

1. Spear Head Spade Reinforced Fiberglass Gardening Shovel

Spear Head Spade - Reinforced Fiberglass Gardening Shovel with Cushioned D Grip - Award Winning Shovel - Model SHFD3 Yellow

The Spear Head shovel isn’t an ordinary tool. It’s an award-winning shovel based on the innovative design that reduces strain while digging.

I find the original shape of the blade head in combination with the large footsteps and D-grip handle to be so comfortable to use that gardening work just flies by.

The hybrid spade/shovel blade cuts through heavy clay and rocky soils with ease.

Need to split up overgrown flowers? This shovel slices through thick roots cleanly so you can transplant those extra flowers elsewhere in your yard, which saves you money.

Things we like:

  • Fiberglass handle is reinforced to reduce cracks or breaks
  • Lightweight design keeps you working longer
  • Unique blade shape cuts through and scoops all types of soil
  • Fresh sharp blade edges reveal themselves during use
  • Weather-resistant materials

Things we don’t like:

  • Blade size doesn’t hold as much soil as a standard shovel
  • V-tip may slide off rounded roots

This Spear Head garden shovel makes the top five list due to the sharp blade that makes outdoor yard chores less of a hassle. This blade also comes in a long handle version if you find that style more convenient to use.

This garden shovel is best for those who want one tool that can do the work of both a spade and shovel.

2. Radius Garden Root Slayer Shovel

Radius Garden 22011 Root Slayer Shovel, (Red)

The Radius Garden Root Slayer shovel has a unique O-handle grip to increase wrist comfort and leverage while digging.

The indent on the tip of the blade helps the shovel cut through roots without slipping off, which reduces frustration. The cutting power continues up the blade sides where serrated edges tear through tough grass or soil conditions.

Longevity is another feature, with a carbon-steel blade under a durable powder-coat finish and a resin coat over the carbon-steel handle to prevent rust.

Things we like:

  • Strong cutting action while being less stressful on the body
  • Durable construction won’t break when prying up roots or rocks
  • Lightweight
  • Slices and chops through weeds to clear garden beds quickly

Things we don’t like:

  • The blade is made more for slicing than scooping
  • Footstep extensions prevent you from digging a deep hole
  • Need to clean and sharpen blade often to maintain good performance

For those who regularly divide plants, have a yard full of trees and shrubs, or metal-detect as a hobby, this Radius garden shovel should be a top pick for you.

The entire design is made for slicing through the toughest soil with the least amount of stress on your hands, wrists, and arms.

3. Bully Tools Round Point Shovel with Fiberglass Long Handle

Bully Tools 82515 14-Gauge Round Point Shovel with Fiberglass Long Handle

The Bully Tools Round Point shovel is a versatile gardening tool featuring commercial-grade construction.

The thick steel blade has closed-back foot pads to keep dirt or debris from building up. The company reinforces the long fiberglass handle with triple-wall construction over a wood core for additional strength that reduces the chance of breakage.

The one-piece steel ferrule means the blade won’t detach from the handle, which is my pet peeve when it comes to garden shovels. This shovel also boasts a welded I-beam behind the ferrule for added strength, so the blade head doesn’t bend.

Things we like:

  • Large blade surface scoops plenty of dirt
  • Long handle with cushion grip for comfort during use
  • Rounded blade tip cuts through most landscape surfaces
  • Ferrule will not separate from the handle
  • Extra reinforcement holds up to tough use, like prying

Things we don’t like:

  • The shape of the blade works better for shoveling material than digging
  • Blade needs sharpening
  • Heavier than expected

I chose this Bully Tools model for the top five due to the commercial quality that will withstand years of use if you take care to clean, oil, and sharpen the blade regularly.

This shovel is best for those who want a basic tool to handle basic lawn care tasks.

4. Root Assassin One Shot Garden Shovel

Root Assassin One Shot Garden Shovel, 43' D-Handle

The Root Assassin One Shot garden shovel combines a nice amount of blade surface with sides that elevate to hold even more material with each scoop.

I find the large footstep provides plenty of support to apply extra downward pressure to the shovel without fear of slipping. Using the footstep allows you to dig deeper with each scoop, so the job gets done faster.

The fiberglass handle won’t rust and has a high-strength rating to prevent breaks. The D-grip aluminum handle helps keep your hand secure while scooping for optimal control of the load.

Things we like:

  • Wings keep more material on the blade
  • Durable construction top to bottom
  • Angle of blade works well for both digging and shoveling
  • Wide, rounded tip is great for turning soil

Things we don’t like:

  • Wings can interfere with some tasks
  • Handle length can be too short for taller people to use comfortably

This Root Assasin garden shovel with wings moves a lot of material with less mess, which is why it makes one of my top five picks.

I find this shovel is best for those who need to dig basic holes for new plants, to turn the soil before planting vegetables, or to scoop gravel or stones.

5. Fiskars 46 Inch Steel D-handle Digging Shovel

Fiskars 46 Inch Steel D-handle Digging Shovel

The Fiskars Digging Shovel features a straight design so the blade cuts straight down into the soil with no angling.

The all-steel construction means it will remain strong and durable if you take care to clean and store the shovel properly. The blade is sharp, so cutting through hard clay or matted roots is a breeze.

The D-grip at the end of the handle is much broader than other shovels, which allows you to hold it in a position most comfortable for you. The handle is heavy-gauge steel that won’t bend under pressure like wood or fiberglass can.

Things we like:

  • Heavy-duty construction top to bottom
  • Large footpads for more digging leverage
  • Shovel has a good weight and balance which is easier on the body
  • Digs clean-edge holes for plants or for edging

Things we don’t like:

  • Metal blade tip may snap off if used for prying up objects
  • Handle shaft may bend under heavy stress

This budget-friendly digging shovel by Fiskars makes the list because it works fantastic to create clean lines, whether you want to plant a bunch of bulbs or edge a walkway.

The tool is best for more lightweight gardening jobs with the ergonomic design and large handle that makes moving compost, mulch, or dirt quick and efficient.

Do You Really Need A Garden Shovel?

Yes, if you own a home with a yard, you do need a garden shovel. There are so many tasks where a shovel comes in handy like:

  • Digging holes
  • Trenching
  • Moving shrubs and plants
  • Making a vegetable garden
  • Scooping rocks or gravel
  • Clearing weeds or roots
  • Lifting grass
  • Clearing snow/ice

The type of shovel you purchase could be a more all-purpose design with a rounded-tip and wide blade that can tackle a variety of jobs about the home.

For serious gardeners or landscapers like me, you may end up with several different styles that are more task-specific, like an edging shovel, garden spade, or trencher.

With high-quality shovels available at affordable prices, you only need a few minutes of maintenance to keep your garden shovel in excellent working condition, so it’s there when you need it.

Things To Watch Out For

Next, are things to watch out for when buying a garden shovel so you can avoid wasting money on a tool that hurts your back or quickly breaks.

Blade Shape And Material

Do you know what you’ll use your shovel for most?

If so, it’ll make blade shape and material selection easier.

As a rule, the lighter the material you’re moving, the larger you want the blade.

Heavy material like clay soil is easier to manage safely with a smaller shovel blade.

Square blades are best to scoop material off a flat surface, while sharp-point blades cut through the soil or roots efficiently.

Look for digging-style shovels with wide footpad steps that allow you to use your leg strength to push the shovel downwards.

Thick-gauge steel blade material is crucial to prevent bending and allows you to sharpen the blade as it dulls.

Look for a solid ferrule that extends up the shaft of the handle, which increases strength at a natural weak point where the blade meets the handle.

Weight And Balance

The weight of your garden shovel matters.

Find the lightest shovel with the structural integrity to withstand the rigors of use. The “balance” of the garden shovel is another issue you need to consider.

Test different shovels by scooping up material and feel how the load handles as you lift and move it. Even an inch of difference in the blade width or handle length can alter how heavy the load at the end feels.

A six-pound shovel that feels light at the store will tax your arms after you’ve spent three hours turning the soil in your garden. At that point, you’ll wish you bought that three-pound shovel instead!

Lighter shovels implement the use of fiberglass, aluminum, and steel that are quite durable, but remember that those materials may not hold up under extreme working conditions as a more substantial, solid-steel shovel will.

Handle Length And Grip Shape

A garden shovel with a long handle eases the strain on your back muscles because it reduces the need to bend.

Shorter-handle garden shovels give you better control when moving a load, but those back muscles get a workout.

I use my long-handled shovel for tasks like digging up plants. I reach for my short-handled garden shovel for moving bulk material like compost into a wheelbarrow.

A cushion grip helps alleviate blister formation and the muscle strain of trying to hold the shovel handle without it slipping.

Shovel handles with D-grips or T-grips provide extra leverage when trying to lift heavy loads because it allows your hand to rest in a more comfortable position.

Go through the motions of shoveling to determine which style of handle grip creates the least amount of stress on your wrists and hands.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Type Of Shovel Is Best For Digging?

The answer to this question depends on what you’re digging.

Want to plant bulbs? A hand-held garden spade will do the trick.

Need to clear a trench for a sprinkler system or garden bed? A trench shovel has a long, narrow blade with curved edges to define a space cleanly.

Want to divide plants for transplanting? A spade with serrated edges is what you need.

Want to dig a large hole to set a pond basin? A regular shovel with an angled head will work just fine.

Stay away from flat-edged shovels. These shovels are for scraping or scooping up material and are horrible for digging.

What Is The Major Difference Between Spade And Shovel?

Most people use the words spade and shovel to describe the same tool, but technically the two instruments are different.

Here is the difference between spade and shovel:

A spade is for digging down into the soil, with little or no angle between the handle and blade.

This design allows the tool to penetrate straight down into the material you wish to remove. The shape also makes the spade a great tool for chopping up clumpy soil or weeds.

A shovel is for scooping.

While a shovel is also for digging, the angle between the blade and handle makes it awkward to dig straight down into the ground. A shovel tends to make sloppy, wide holes, but the angle makes picking up the dirt and moving it easier.

How Deep Can You Dig With A Shovel?

In one scoop, most shovels are made to remove between four and eight inches of dirt from the ground. This measurement is dependant on the soil composition and how far the blade can penetrate.

With many scoops of a shovel, you can dig quite a deep hole with the only constraints being your determination, strength, time, safety from cave-ins, and whether or not you hit bedrock.

Of course, a deep hole requires it to be wide enough for a person to get down inside and have room to operate the shovel and remove debris.

I have dug sewer-line trenches five-feet deep and two feet wide over long expanses with just a shovel. Not the brightest thing I ever did, but it did save me a bundle!

How Long Does A Shovel Last?

A quality shovel you show a little TLC can last a lifetime.

Buying a shovel made of the best materials may cost more upfront, but will pay off over time when the metal remains rust-free, the handle doesn’t snap, and the ferrule and handle don’t separate.

The key to a shovel lasting is not to abuse it. A shovel is not a pry bar. A shovel is not a hammer.

A shovel needs a protective oil over metal surfaces, and paint or stain over wood. Wash off the dirt and wipe dry. Store your shovel out of the elements. A few extra minutes of maintenance can add years to the life of your shovel and other garden implements.

In Summary

I hope this shovel buying guide with reviews helps you choose the ideal garden shovel to make any gardening project easier.

Thankfully, whatever home improvement landscaping projects you plan, there is a style of shovel on this list to help you get the job done right!

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