Spade vs Shovel: Which Should You Choose?

Ed Wike
Written by
Last update:

What’s the Difference?

If you have the option of choosing only one tool for gardening, you should choose the best tool for the job you intend to tackle, whatever it may be. That would be your spade. Shovels are great for digging and moving large amounts of soil, while spades are great for digging up and dividing plants. The differences are subtle but important.

The spade in the photo above, clearly shows the flatness of the blade and the different angle between the blade and the handle. This is important in digging up plants because the end of the blade should be pressed into the ground to create a lever.

The flat blade makes a better lever and keeps the edge of the blade from being buried in the soil. The deeper the blade can go into the soil without being buried, the easier the plant will come up without breaking the root. Once you break the root, you have a hard time saving the plant.

The shovel on the right has a curved blade. Although this makes it good for digging, it’s not going to give the leverage necessary to pry up a plant. Plus, it makes the shovel too deep to work well in many soils.

Just remember to buy the right tool for the job. You are going to be much more successful and happy with getting the job done.


There is a difference between shovels and spades. Unless you already know the difference, you will most likely use the wrong tool, which can be a real problem.

A shovel is a tool with a blade that is strong enough to cut through soft ground and clay. The angle of the blade is also variable and can be adjusted. This shovel has a solid scoop or a flat blade. The handle is long enough for you to have a good leverage and the angle is usually adjustable, which means that you can use it as a ditchdigger as well. Spade-shovels are usually heavier, and because of their angled mouth, they fit perfectly with back-breaking work. This is why the word "spade" is often used for manual tractor shovels. Spades are ideal for digging holes and ditches in sandy or rocky soil.

But in recent years, spades have been used for gardening, too, as they are designed to be used like a shovel for planting small trees and shrubs, dividing perennials and digging up bulbs. The only difference is the angle of the blade that is not as adjustable as in shovels.


—What are they?

A spade is a garden tool that’s shaped like a shovel but has a longer and narrower blade, all of which is designed to make digging easier. Spades are used most often to dig holes. They also are used to remove weeds, pull up roots, and loosen soil before planting.

Sometimes, the terms spade and shovel are used interchangeably. However, in the United Kingdom, a spade is the term used to describe the tool we know as a shovel in North America. In the mid 20th century, the British began to use the term spade to indicate the shape, and the term shovel to indicate the process.

Spades are useful if you need to dig deeper when digging holes for flowers or plants. They also are great for digging small holes for seeds. The narrow blade allows you to easily control the depth of the hole you're digging, and since you can plant deeper, you can plant more plants in a smaller space. The narrow blade also will penetrate the soil more easily, making it easier to remove weeds. Since the blade is narrow and longer, the leverage is reduced, so digging the hole may take longer than it would with a shovel.

Choosing Your Spade or Shovel

There are, of course, some tools that you definitely need to have. If you haven’t already invested in a few tools of your own, here are some suggestions to get you started on your tool collection. What do you do with these tools? Well, use them of course!

Spades and shovels are great tools to have on hand. It is hard to imagine surviving in the wild without being able to dig a hole, dig stuff up, or move loose stuff around. Both of these tools are pretty standard, and they both fill the same basic purposes. So, which one should you choose?

There are a lot of factors that go into this decision, including the type of work you are planning to do with your tool. Shovels are very useful in digging out your garden. In fact, on a small scale, they are better for working with hard, packed soil. However, spades are better if you are digging very large spaces.

A spade is also lighter and more versatile. You can use it for just about anything that you would use a shovel for and more. A spade is a little more like a shovel, but also has a pointed end for prying.

Recommended Products

Shovels and spades are different tools used in gardening and landscaping. Both are used commonly by homeowners and professionals and in gardens every day for a number of garden projects. A shovel can be used for digging holes and planting, as well as digging out soil. A spade is more specialized for digging out dirt in hard ground, and it can be used for breaking up hard ground.

The spade is a tool with one sharpened edge, and it is used for fast digging. The shovel is used for moving or scooping dirt, and it can be used to smooth or level a surface. The shovel is more widely used because of its versatility, and the spade is used for its precision.

One of the main differences in these tools is the shape. A spade is an elongated version of a shovel. However, there are a number of different shapes of spades and shovels on the market. A spade is the shape that is recommended for most garden projects. The sharpened edge makes this type of spade perfect for digging holes and planting bulbs. Both a spade and shovel can be used for digging and shoveling.