Our recommendation for the best garden shovel is Fiskars Long Handle Digging Shovel. Investing in a high-quality garden shovel makes good sense considering the myriad of jobs for which you’ll use it. Some of your toughest gardening tasks will require a shovel. Continue reading to learn about our recommendations and tips for getting the most out of your shovel.
Our Top 4 Picks for the Best Garden Shovels
Using a Shovel
The primary purpose of a shovel is to move things. Whether it’s digging up soil to make room for shrubs or removing rocks from your garden, a heavy-duty shovel is a must-have. You may think a shovel is synonymous with hard work. You wouldn’t be far off the mark. Digging and earthmoving are tough chores that require a tool equally strong. But all shovels aren’t created equally.
Types of Shovels
The different types of shovels are better suited for certain chores. A round-point shovel, for example, is an excellent choice for most garden tasks requiring a bit of digging. The rounded-point allows it to cut through even heavy clay soils. And perhaps most importantly, it moves an adequate amount of soil without overloading it like a larger shovel can do.
The scoop shovel is a larger version of the round-point but is squared off on the bottom. It can move a larger amount of soil. However, it’s best suited for lighter materials since a full shovel makes for a heavy load to move around. Perhaps more than any other garden tool, overdoing it with a shovel the one most likely to cause back strain, the third costliest health care expense.
A shovel differs from a spade which also a tool you can use to move earth. A spade typically has a narrower blade. It is better suited for jobs that require more precision handling like cutting through tough roots. Then, there is the size to consider. For big jobs, a spade won’t cut it. You’ll be better off with a shovel which will get the job done quicker and more efficiently.
You will also find shovels with either long handles or short D-handles. The choice is a matter of personal preference. However, bear in mind that a longer handle will give you more leverage. It could make a difference if your yard has heavy clay soils. Let the type of tasks you anticipate doing guide your choice. A round-point shovel will probably do well for most jobs.
Getting the Most Out of Your Shovel
There are numerous things you can do with a shovel. Many will provide direct benefits to your soil, and thus, your plants. You can use it to prepare the ground for plants by loosening the soil and breaking up clumps. It will also come in handy to remove rocks and other obstructions. Removal will make it easier for plants to set down roots into the ground.
When you work the soil with a shovel, you are also aerating it and creating a looser mix. Doing this will increase the permeability of water and other nutrients. It also gives you a chance to add amendments to the soil such as organic matter. It is loaded with nutrients that will give new plants a better start. For plants that can’t fix nitrogen from the air, it is a must-do task.
Working the soil with a shovel allows you to remove weeds as you go. The advantage it gives you is to remove the plants completely. Any portion of the roots left in the ground will sprout new ones. Going at the slower pace with using a hand tool will prevent chopping up weeds that can also give rise to new seedlings. As a weed removal tool, a garden shovel can be very effective.
Care for Your Garden Shovel
It’s essential to take good care of your shovel so that it can better serve you. It begins with keeping it clean. Soapy water should do the trick. For tougher jobs like sap, you can use steel wool to get it clean. You should also disinfect your shovel especially if you’re using it in different areas in your yard. Avoiding this task increases the risk of inadvertently transferring pathogens.
The University of Wisconsin-Extension recommends using a 10 percent bleach solution or preferably a 70 percent rubbing alcohol solution because it’s less corrosive. Once it’s dry, you can follow up by spraying WD-40 or applying oil to the blade to keep it in good shape for the next gardening job. This simple step will help prevent rust to prolong the life of the blade.
Finding a Shovel You Dig
Garden shovels typically come with pre-sharpened blades made of hardened steel. Some companies provide a warranty on the blade. You’ll find models with fiberglass, steel, or wooden handles. The important consideration is weight. Shoveling on its own is back-breaking work, let alone doing it with a shovel that’s hard to lift with nothing in it.
Speaking of comfort, another feature to look for is with the handle and grip. You might want to consider opting for a shovel that has some type of cushioned grip rather than a plain wood handle. With an unprotected handle, it won’t take long for your hands to develop nasty blisters. Take time to examine the grips to make sure they are securely attached to the handle.
The shovel should feel balanced in your hands. Some shovels have a foot plate or footrest on the top of the blade which is a nice feature for digging. Heavy-duty shovels have a thicker blade. While it’ll add to the weight, it will also make cutting through clay soils easier.
This fascinating video by How It’s Made shows how your garden shovel started from the factory to your garden center.
Our Recommendation: Fiskars Long Handle Digging Shovel
A high-quality garden shovel is a versatile, all-purpose tool that will be the tool of choice for many of your gardening jobs. Whether it’s planting shrubs or digging a new flowerbed, a good shovel is a sound investment. Our choice is a long-handled model because of the added leverage it provides and the fact that it can help prevent back strain.
The Fiskars Long Handle Digging Shovel is made of welded steel for a durable product. The generous foot plate on the top of the blade allows you to put your weight into digging to make it easier to cut through dense soils. At just under six feet, it gives you plenty of leverage for tough jobs. The lifetime warranty on the blade is a bonus.
Digging is hard work, no doubt. To make the job as efficient as possible, you need a strong, durable garden shovel. You’ll likely find that you’ll be using your shovel for all kinds of tasks. To make your job easier, it pays to invest in quality. You’ll get your work quicker and easier. Of all the tools in your garden shed, your shovel will likely see the most duty.