The best garden spades are for gardeners who enjoy getting up close and personal with the earth and soil in their plot. They allow the green thumb to turn the soil over, dig out stones, replant or reposition growth as needed, and save you a lot of back-breaking work if you only had a trowel in your toolkit.
A garden spade is often one of the first tools purchased by a gardener due to its numerous uses.
While a digging spade is the most common type, many other models are designed for a specific task.
Contrary to popular belief, Garden spades come in various shapes and sizes, each with its own set of advantages. They should be able to handle difficult tasks while also being extremely durable.
Comfort is essential when using a garden spade, determined by the handle’s shape and length. Long-handled spades are preferable if you are tall, and they can also save you from unnecessary back strain. The blade’s quality and durability are also important considerations.
But where do you begin if you’re new to gardening or want to upgrade or expand your garden tool kit? If you’re looking for advice and guidance on where to find the best garden spades, we’ve got it in spades!
In this article, we will go over the best garden spades and clearly outline the benefits and drawbacks of each one. We rated them out of five based on their performance, considering their value for money, durability, comfort, and handling. Only tools with a rating of 4 or higher have been included on our recommended list.
To help you choose the right spade for the job, we recommend using this rating as a guide while considering what tasks you will be using the spade for.
At a glance, the best garden spade to buy
After extensive research for value, comfort, and quality, we found a few of the best garden spades for digging with ease.
The spades listed below have received at least four out of five stars, ensuring high quality and performance.
Let's dig deep
The stainless-steel head keeps the weight down, and the handle is made of FSC certified wood.
- Best for simple digging
- Stainless steel and ash wood are the materials used.
- 106cm in height (overall)
A good all-rounder could be the solution. With its traditional appearance, this spade will make short work of most digging tasks and comfortable for all (unless you’re extremely tall or extremely short).
Making use of FSC-certified wood
Do you require a more traditional style? This one is made of ash and is weatherproof as well as FSC-certified.
Polished snout Steel-head design makes it relatively light, so it shouldn’t tire you out when digging for a long time.
Cleaning up is a breeze!
The soil won’t cling to the rust-resistant head as you work, leaving you with less to clean up at the end of each gardening project.
Gardener’s Pointed Spade
Best garden spade for stony soils: make your life easier with a spade that’s designed to tackle all types of soil.
- Best for: Hard and stony conditions
- Materials: Steel and plastic
- Height: 117cm (overall)
Do you have to work with stony or hard soils? This spade has a pointed blade for working in difficult conditions.
This spade has a sharp hardened blade and treads at the top to help you with any difficult garden tasks.
Work that is light in nature
This model is lightweight, weighing only 1.75kg thanks to its plastic handle, allowing you to focus your efforts on digging rather than lifting.
The D-shaped handle is ergonomically designed to fit all hand sizes, and the long shaft protects your back while you work.
The shorter handle of this spade makes it much easier to use when digging in raised areas.
- The best application for this tool is digging in raised beds or borders.
- The materials used are stainless steel and ash wood.
- Height: 94cm (overall)
A traditional spade with a shorter handle is ideal for digging in raised areas.
The design is compact
This spade is ideal for petite gardeners with a shorter handle due to its scaled-down proportions. It’s also ideal for working with soil in raised beds because the smaller size puts less strain on your arms.
Tidy and Neat
The steelhead on this spade is only 14cm in diameter to fit into the tiniest of borders and beds.
Not a fan of the trendy or eye-catching garden tool?
All garden traditionalists will appreciate the classic ash wood handle and stainless steelhead.
The best garden spade for protecting roots: specially shaped to avoid damage when relocating trees and shrubs.
- Ideal for Serious Gardeners
- Stainless steel and ash wood are the materials used.
- 110cm in height (overall)
This design is ideal for seasoned gardeners who intend to relocate plants, trees, and shrubs from one garden area to another.
Ingenious head design
This spade’s head is specially shaped to allow you to dig carefully around the roots of the trees and shrubs you’re moving without damaging them or the plants nearby.
The long handle
This spade has a longer handle that measures 88cm, which reduces the need for bending and helps prevent back strain.
Because of the integrated threads on the top of the blade, you can dig with more force without risking injuring your feet.
Best budget garden spade: a low-cost option for general digging tasks.
- Best for Increasing the value of your money.
- Steel and carbon steel are the materials used.
- 99.5cm in height (overall)
Do you need to replace all of your tools? This great value spade will not deplete your garden tool budget, leaving you with more money to spend on the rest of your list.
This spade is bound to feel more comfortable in your hands than one that does not have a soft-grip handle.
Resistant to rust
While the blade on this spade will not have the gleaming finish of a stainless steel design, the epoxy coating will prevent it from rusting (which is far more important).
The relationship between form and function
Let’s face it: a plastic-coated steel shaft will not feel or look as luxe or classic as a timber version, but if price and function are more important to you, this won’t be an issue.
Best lightweight garden spade: spend more time in the garden with a design that requires less hefting.
- Best for Continuing to dig
- Carbon steel and fiberglass are the materials used.
- 103cm in height (overall)
If you dig for long periods of time, choose a lightweight spade to save energy.
This spade weighs over 2kg thanks to its fibreglass shaft, making it far lighter than a spade with a steel or wooden handle.
Extend your reach
This spade is designed to make digging easier in two ways: first, the longer shaft provides more leverage, and second, it’s forward-tilting and has a soft-touch handle.
This spade’s carbon steel head is rust-resistant, and a five-year warranty backs the design.
Spear & Jackson 4190NB Elements Digging Spade
Best all-rounder a clever design for growing your own jobs and other garden chores.
- All garden digging tasks benefit from this product.
- Carbon steel and wood are the materials used.
- 102.5cm in height (overall)
You don’t have enough storage space for more than one spade? This versatile design is an excellent all-arounder that can handle a wide range of tasks.
Finished in a smooth manner
A clear lacquer protects the wooden shaft of this spade, extending its lifespan. The material also contributes to the fact that this is a relatively light spade to use.
Design in steel
The head of this spade is made of heat-treated carbon steel and is epoxy coated to resist rust, scratches, and soil humidity.
Features that provide comfort
The handle is D-shaped and forward-tilting to make digging easier and less taxing on the back.
Burgon & Ball GTB/SSBRHS RHS Stainless Border Spade
Best border garden spade: if you don’t want to work with a bulky tool, this design is for you.
- Most suitable for maximizing comfort
- Stainless steel and ash wood are the materials used.
- 100cm in height (overall)
As a result of its smaller size, a border spade is a better choice for most women. Working in tight spaces between plants is also a breeze with this rake.
Most people find a Y-grip handle like the one on this spade more comfortable to use unless they have huge hands.
Thanks to its extra-long strapped socket that provides both strength and flex, even the toughest jobs will be no problem for this sturdy spade.
While pushing the spade into the ground, the treads on the blade relieve any foot strain you may have.
What is the difference between a border spade and a digging spade?
What Exactly Is A Border Spade?
A border spade is similar to a regular digging space, but it is smaller in size. The flat blade makes digging into the ground easier. It’s better suited to smaller workspaces because it has a shorter handle and a narrower blade attached to the end. You’ll also learn what to look for in a good border spade later in the same post.
What Is Its Purpose?
Now that you know what a border spade is let’s look at some of its uses. A border spade would be perfect for digging in a garden bed or preparing a raised bed. You can also use a border spade to plant small shrubs. Border spades are frequently the preferred choice of female gardeners due to their manageable size.
What Exactly Is A Digging Spade?
The Digging Spade is the most common and widely used type of garden spade. Its narrow bottom edge enables it to cut into hard ground for soil preparation and amendment. A digging spade, which is typically 6 to 8 inches wide and 9 to 11 inches long, is the best tool for preparing large land areas. It comes with a long straight handle, a “YD handle,” or a “T” handle.
What Is Its Purpose?
Aside from assisting you in preparing the land for spring planting in the autumn or winter, spades can be useful all year. A standard digging spade is suitable for digging earth to plant a small tree and transporting soil.
Digging spade vs. border spade
In comparison to digging spades, they’re smaller and lighter in weight. A border spade has a smaller and flatter blade than a regular spade, making it easier to dig into the soil.
A border spade is ideal when working in small spaces, such as raised beds or border plants. Those who want to work for longer periods of time than a heavy digging spade allows, or those who prefer to work with a shorter, lighter tool, may find it useful.
Compared to the border spade, a digging spade has a wider blade for moving and turning earth and cutting through soil and roots. To trim lawns and skim off weed, it is an excellent tool.
How to choose the best garden spade
The best garden spade for you and your garden will be determined by the tasks you intend to complete. Choosing the best garden spade for your needs is critical – especially if your soil is difficult to work with, your plot is large, or your garden design is ambitious.
Other factors to consider include the price, weight, length, shaft, and materials used to make the garden spade. These variations will affect the handling, strength, and durability of the garden spades.
Choosing the right weight and length for your garden spade
Some prefer heavy digging spades because their weight allows the blade to cut through the soil more easily. If you have back problems or can only dig for short periods of time, you should look for a spade made of lighter materials, such as aluminum, or more ergonomically designed.
Longer and angled shafts allow you to bend less and relieve strain on your back, but adjusting to the unusual digging angle may take some time. It would be best if you also made certain that the garden spade is of sufficient height. A shaft that is too short for your height will put additional strain on your back.
The majority of garden spades are intended for either average-height men or taller women. If you are taller than average, choose a long-handled spade; if you are shorter, choose a border spade, which is shorter in length.
However, keep in mind that many spades have long handles and other ergonomic features to relieve back strain, and one of these designs may be suitable for gardeners of various heights.
While a spade may not appear to be particularly heavy on its own, keep in mind that once you’ve piled soil on the blade of your spade, it will weigh significantly more, and you will be lifting quite a weight between the earth and the tool.
If this is a concern, first look into the materials used to make the spade. Wooden handles are lighter than steel, and fiberglass handles are even lighter. A border spade, which is smaller than a standard spade, can also be a lighter option.
Treads on the blade will make it easier to put your foot on the spade. Meanwhile, the handles can be D or T shaped, with the latter possibly being more comfortable for those with larger hands. Molded and soft-grip handles may also be more comfortable for a long digging session.
Selecting the Best Material for Your Garden Spade
The right blade, made of stainless steel or carbon, depends on your soil type and the job at hand.
Stainless steel blades are shiny and cut cleanly through the soil, particularly clay, so they are good for digging in difficult terrain. Garden spades made of stainless steel are also easy to clean and will not rust.
However, because they’re so heavy, they’re not ideal for those with limited mobility. On top of that, stainless steel blades are always welded to the socket, which creates a weak point that can break under pressure.
Forged carbon steel blades are a little lighter and more durable than forged stainless steel blades. Carbon steel blades can rust over time, requiring maintenance, but they should last a lifetime if properly maintained.
Selecting the Best Garden Spade Shaft
Shafts for spades can be made of wood, plastic, metal, or fiberglass. Traditional wood is strong and heavy, and it absorbs shock and vibrations, but it does not like being wet unless it is weatherproofed. It has the potential to splinter, but it is usually simple to replace. Look for FSC-certified hardwoods and, which are more durable than oak or beech.
Metal shafts are strong, but they don’t absorb shock well and are hot in the summer. Fiberglass and plastic, on the other hand, are light, durable, and absorb vibrations well. They can, however, snap under pressure and are difficult to replace.
The YD design provides a good grip and versatility but can be uncomfortable for small or large hands when it comes to handles. The T-grip is good for applying force to the spade and is suitable for all hand sizes, but it can feel flimsy if you’re not used to the shape.
Although traditional wooden handles are more comfortable, plastic handles are also popular. If you want to buy a plastic-handled spade, look for one with extra grip to make it less slippery in wet weather.
The socket, where the handle attaches to the blade, is the final point to consider. Longer sockets are more durable and provide more flex than shorter ones. They are frequently riveted to the shaft. To avoid snagging your hands when turning the soil, ensure these rivets are sunk or flush with the handle.
How to prevent back injuries when digging
It is important to dig with the proper technique to avoid back injury. To maintain control of the spade, you should hold it close to your body to reduce the amount of time you must lean against it to dig.
Before digging, place one foot on the spade so that your weight pulls it into the ground. To lift the soil, bend your knees deeply so that they bear the weight rather than your back. To ensure that you always have control over the load, don’t overfill the spade.
When replanting, be mindful of the weight you’re lifting. If the soil is wet, plants with intact root balls can be heavy, so lift slowly and carefully, keeping the spade close to your body.
Finally, avoid twisting and turning at the hips. Instead, move your entire body with your feet. Watch our experts in the Digging Spades Buyer’s Guide video above for a visual demonstration of this technique.
When and how to use a garden spade
Take care of it, and it will last longer, saving you money in the long run.
After each use, clean the blade and handle to prevent carbon steel from rusting and wood from rotting due to soil accumulation. Use a stiff brush and warm soapy water to get the job done first.
Towards the end of your gardening season, give the spade a final clean and sharpen it with a sharpening stone. If a wooden handle or shaft has rough spots, it should be sanded down.
This is the last step before putting your spade away for winter. With a cloth, remove any excess oil.
High-quality shovels feature forged blades, which means that the blade began as a single hot piece of steel that was then hammered into form before being used.
They provide a grip that is easy to hold, prevents blisters, and reduces hand strain.
In certain cases, a shovel’s shaft has a built-in grip, while others have a round or D-shaped handle. A few shovels include textured grips on the shaft as well as the handle.
Most people can use a variety of garden tools with a 44-48-inch shaft comfortably.
Longer shafts provide more leverage and are easier on the user’s back because of their length.
Shovels are classified as digging shovels, trenching shovels, tree-planting shovels, edging shovels, micro shovels, trowels, spades, scoops, and post-hole diggers on their blade shape, handle design, and use.
On the concave edge of the digging shovel, the user can place their foot on a little flattened platform (collar) for added force when pressing the tool into the earth.
They have long, narrow, and somewhat pointed blades, making them ideal for digging trenches.
These shovels are used to plant trees.
As their name suggests, tree planting shovels are designed to dig holes fast and efficiently for planting trees.
On the other hand, these shovels have broad semicircle blades and a straight footplate for edging the lawn or garden.
Mini shovels are similar to full-size shovels in appearance but with shorter shafts and slightly smaller blades that allow the user to maneuver in tight spaces.