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What is a Garden Shovel?

Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden

A garden shovel is an essential gardening tool used for planting various plants, digging up or moving other plants, as well as a variety of other purposes. The garden shovel is a very versatile tool, making it popular with gardeners, landscapers, farmers, and many others. There are many different types of shovels to choose from in a great range of sizes and weights. These different kinds exist to meet the many different needs of those who use shovels, from moving large quantities of sand to digging deep into the clay-filled ground.

A garden shovel is made up of two different parts, the handle and the blade. A longer handle provides greater leverage and is useful for heavier work and for cutting through roots and tough ground, while a shorter handle provides greater control and is often useful for planting or digging up bulbs. The blade, or scoop, is used for cutting through the ground and moving dirt or plants. A larger blade can move greater quantities of soil or anything else that needs to be moved, while a more sharply pointed blade is able to cut into hard ground or through roots more effectively.

An expansive garden demands the use of a garden shovel.
An expansive garden demands the use of a garden shovel.

Another major point that many people consider before the purchase of a garden shovel is the weight. Heavier garden shovels tend to be much sturdier than their lighter counterparts, making them more effective at digging through roots or tough ground. Lighter garden shovels are easier and less tiring to use, but are less durable and can break when used for heavy, high strain purposes. In most cases, it comes down to a matter of personal preference. A gardener is best off using the shovel that feels best in his hands.

A garden shovel can be used to work the soil.
A garden shovel can be used to work the soil.

The sharp point of a garden shovel is one of the most important aspects of the shovel. It is important that a garden shovel is able to cut easily into the ground. A dull point tends to make messy cuts into the sod, dirt, or other material being shoveled. This can lead to a messy, uneven garden. A dull point will also probably be unable to cut through thicker roots, making some gardening tasks nearly impossible.

A garden spade can often be mistaken for a garden shovel. The two tools, however, are quite distinct and have very different purposes. A garden spade is small and has a flat blade that goes up to the handle. It is meant to be used for working the dirt and for precision work close to the ground rather than for cutting, which is the task of the garden shovel.

Discussion Comments


I like to keep more than one shovel on hand. It always works best if you have the right tool for the job.

I use my long handled shovel for digging. I have found a heavier shovel with a long handle is actually easier to use than a lighter shovel.

I like to be able to put my weight on the bottom of the shovel without worrying about the shovel breaking. It is also easier on my back when I am using a shovel with a long handle.

There are other jobs where a garden hand shovel comes in handy. When I am doing something on my knees, having a shovel that I can hold in my hand is the perfect tool for the job.

In our garage you could find just about any size and type of shovel you could want. Everything from a kids' garden shovel to a spade shovel can be found somewhere in my garage.

My daughter always enjoyed helping outside with the yard work, and she would carry around her shovel and help when she could.

I find that I use a shovel with a pointed blade much more often than something like a spade with a flat blade. This is much easier to use when transplanting flowers or small bushes.

Sometimes I get frustrated by having so many garden tools around, but I usually can find just the right tool I need without needing to go buy a new one.


I recently bought a mini garden shovel which I love. The handle on this shovel is quite a bit shorter than most, but I like it because it is light weight and easy to handle.

I still keep my long handled shovel around depending on what I want to dig up. For most things though, I have found the shorter handle to work well for me.

Every fall I dig up bulbs to store over the winter for spring planting. This shovel is the perfect size to get in tight places.


I have a few garden power tools, but one thing I would not be without is my shovel. I could probably get by without the power tools, but wouldn't know what to do without my garden shovel and hoe.

It is important to me that I have a durable shovel that is going to hold up well. This is why I prefer a shovel with a wooden handle.

Some garden stores also sell shovels where the handle folds down, but these didn't look very sturdy or durable.

My shovel gets a good workout during the year, and I want to know it is going to be strong enough to hold up to the task at hand.

Every fall before I put my shovel away for the season, I always make sure I clean it well, so it is ready to be used again in the spring.

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    • An expansive garden demands the use of a garden shovel.
      By: il-fede
      An expansive garden demands the use of a garden shovel.
    • A garden shovel can be used to work the soil.
      By: Vasily Merkushev
      A garden shovel can be used to work the soil.