10 Best Garden Spades Reviewed in Detail
Spades are workhorses and are handy tools around the garden. There are various designs available for about every specialized gardening task. First, there is the garden spade which is designed for edging, digging, cutting and lifting sod. There is also the drain spade that allows you to get into tight spots with ease. The head is a narrow and the handle straighter for working in restricted spaces and is also great for transplanting. Finally, there is the roofing spade which is designed to rip and lift roofing shingles. Though it is not a gardening tool, it is often found under the garden tool section.
In this guide, we will go over the best garden spades, garden spades buying guide, and some FAQS. So, stick around for the recommendations.
Our Top 3 Picks
First, don’t mistake a garden spade for a shovel. Though the terms are used interchangeably, they are different tools. A shovel has a 5-foot length giving you longer reach while a garden spade has a 4-foot enabling you to work close to flower beds. Moreover, spades have D or T-shaped handles, unlike shovels which don’t. Finally, a spade has a flat rectangular blade albeit with some variations, while a shovel has a curved scoop-out blade.
Finding the perfect gardening spade can be demanding especially for newbies. You should be looking for a tool that fits your stature and physique for comfort.
10 Best Garden Spades
1. Spear Head Spade - Reinforced Fiberglass
First, you will appreciate the reinforced fiberglass handles as they are lightweight and are durable. Unlike wood, they aren’t susceptible to water and don’t splinter. These are weather resistant and low maintenance. Another fascinating feature is the strength of the blade. The high carbon manganese steel blade happens to be 25% harder and 33% thicker than traditional spades. Thus you can expect it to be with you for years.
Moreover, the unit has platforms on either side of the blade that enable you to use your weight and power through the toughest soils. The epoxy powder coating, on the other hand, protects the blade but also wears out at the edges fast thus the edge is continuously sharpened. Nevertheless, our best features were the UV inhibitors and blade design.
Blade design – The blade is pre-sharpened at 35-degrees, and the powder coating is designed to wear out at the edges first. Therefore, the edges are continuously sharpened as you work. Moreover, it auto-seeks the path of least resistance aiding you to ease through the most stringent conditions. It reduces the effort required by up to 80%.
UV-inhibitors – These allow the tool to withstand harsh conditions. It is also non-conductive, and thus you can use it in sweltering heat.
Weight: 3.8 pounds
Material: Carbon manganese blade with a reinforced fiberglass handle
35-degree angle blade
Who is it for?
Given that the Spear Head reduces effort we recommend it for seniors. It also happens to be our pick for transplanting as it powers through root-infested soils with ease.
The Spear Head spade is a low-cost premium product
It is maneuverable around existing plants, and perfect to eliminate weeds
Includes footrests for exerting pressure
2. Fiskars D-handle Square Spade
Moreover, the blade is sharpened allowing you to ease your way into nearly any surface. Finally, the 14-gauge metal happens to be stronger than most spades increasing the robustness. Our top features though were the ergonomics and the large foot platform.
Foot platform – Gardening is not a walk in the park, and often you have to exert yourself. You have to stoop down and strain your back when working with most spades, but the Fiskars much like the Spear Head spade eliminates the need for this. The foot platform allows you to exert pressure using your feet and thus you can power through root-infested soils.
Ergonomics – First, the D-handle is large enough for a two-handed grip, when exerting pressure on the foot platform. Moreover, the teardrop-shaped shaft increases the comfort and control.
Weight: 4.9 pounds
14-gauge steel blade
Who is it for?
Seeing as this is a 46-inch we recommend it for tall people. Also, it is designed for cutting trenches, edging, and digging. We endorse the 46-inch D-handle transplanting spade for small deep holes.
It is durable
Digging holes is a breeze thanks to the foot platform
Edges with minimum effort
Includes a lifetime warranty
Thanks to the sharpened blade, it cuts through roots with ease
It is made of conductive materials and susceptible to weather elements; using it in sweltering heat will be uncomfortable
3. A.M. Leonard All Steel
Another fascinating feature of this spade is the ergonomics. The tear-shaped shaft increases comfort and control while the D-handle allows for a firm grip while and has enough room for a gloved hand. You will also appreciate the 13” blade as it will enable you to dig deep. Furthermore, the foot step of the A.M. Leonard is unlike any other as it incorporates drilled holes where you can attach rubber footpads. Nevertheless, our top features were the orange color and the flat back.
Orange color – The A.M. Leonard is orange colored and thus easy to find on the job site. Trying to find your piece of equipment to no avail is quite displeasing (and it happens too often), and the Orange color eliminates this horrid experience.
Flat back – This reduces added weight during use by eliminating soil build up. This is more of an ergonomic feature and works well with the welded construction, and the foot platform.
Blade length: 13-inches
Blade width: 7-3/4-inches
Welded steel construction
Who is it for?
The A.M. Leonard is for all landscaping and nursery tasks. It is also best for demanding jobs as it can handle them without breaking.
One-piece construction eliminates most of the week points
The all-steel construction means the tool will serve you for long
It is easy to spot thanks to the orange color
It is powder coated to prevent rust and corrosion
Since this spade is made of conductive material, it should not be used in areas with utility lines
4. Spear & Jackson R715
Blade – Other than being a small blade that is maneuverable and can get into confined spots, the R715 is made of stainless steel for durability. It is rust and corrosion resistant, and minimal soil adhesion, thus it is easy to clean. Moreover, the blade has an extra-long double riveted socket creating a better connection with the wood handle.
Handle – The hardwood handle is an all-time classic and is a one-piece split at the top creating a wishbone handle. The design reduces the number of weak points increasing durability. Moreover, the wood is weatherproofed for longevity.
One-piece handle construction
Who is it for?
The R715 is best for people working in areas with utility lines thanks to the non-conductive handle. It is also great for people who desire to get close to existing plants with ease.
It is lightweight at 3. 35 pounds
You can use it in harsh weather thanks to the hardwood handle
Cleaning is a breeze owing to the stainless steel material
Strong socket connection
It is pricey, and the handle tends to snap under pressure; moreover, it blends with the environment and thus difficult to find
5. Truper 31202 Tru Pro
Another fascinating feature is the foot platform that enables one to use their weight to drive the spade. Nevertheless, our best features were the ergonomics and rivetless build.
Ergonomics – At 3.33 pounds, the Truper 31202 is light and thus a breeze to work with. You can use it for long periods without fatigue. Moreover, the yellow sleeve makes it easy to spot in the job site. The teardrop-shaped handle, on the other hand, makes this an easy spade to control, while the D-ring handle enables a firm grip.
Rivetless – Instead of rivets, the 31202 uses a crimped-steel collar to connect the handle and the neck. This, in turn, reduces the number of weak points increasing the durability.
Weight: 3.33 pounds
29” handle length
Material: 14-gauge steel head, and fiberglass handle
Who is it for?
Given the flat blade, we recommend the Truper 31202 for cutting trenches, edging, and digging. It also happens to be ideal for areas with utility lines thanks to the fiberglass handle, and rocky places thanks to the durability.
The Truper 31202 is ideal for areas with utility lines thanks to the non-conductive materials
It is lightweight reducing the fatigue and allowing you to work for long hours
The fiberglass handle absorbs shock and vibration for comfort
Fiberglass handles are known to flex under pressure, and they are difficult to replace should they snap
6. Spear & Jackson 4454BS
This piece of equipment is made of a wooden shaft and stainless steel blade. The blade is rather flat although it curves slightly, so it is easier to drive into the soil. Moreover, it is designed with a rather long neck that is double riveted allowing it to withstand the pressure. Our top features though were the handle and the blade’s minimal soil adhesion.
Handle – At 28 inches, the 4454BS is about 10-inches shorter than the R715. Therefore it is easy to maneuver and enables you to garden close to existing plants and flowers. Moreover, it is comfortable to use as the handle is wooden. It provides the best weight to strength ratio and absorbs shock and vibration. It also happens to be durable as it is one-piece shaft split at the top to form a wishbone handle. Finally, it is weatherproofed for longevity.
Minimal soil adhesion – The stainless steel minimal soil adhesion ensures there is no soil build up that can limit efficacy and increase the weight of the spade. Moreover, it makes it easy to clean.
Weight: 3.34 pounds
Materials: Stainless steel blade and wooden shaft.
Who is it for?
We recommend the 4454BS for short people and gardeners who are on the hunt for a maneuverable spade.
Durable thanks to the one-piece shaft, steel blade, and long socket
It is comfortable thanks to the teardrop-shaped handle
The blade is rust resistant
The wooden handle tends to splinter and snap under pressure; it also blends with the environment and is difficult to find should you misplace it
7. Bulldog 7102
One fascinating feature about this spade in the comfortable non-slip handle. It allows for excellent control even under wet conditions. Moreover, the D-ring handle provides better grip and more control. You will also appreciate the ergonomic design with the teardrop-shaped handle that increases the maneuverability.
The flat blade makes this ideal for trenching and cutting edges, and the one-piece construction ensures it will be around for a while. The forward angled hilt increases efficiency and is bend tested to exceed all British standards. Nonetheless, our best features were the shaft and the socket.
Ash shaft – Ashwood is renowned for its weight to strength ration. It is lightweight, but durable and can withstand any abuse. Moreover, it is made of sustainable wood and thus no harm to the environment.
Socket – The socket, where the handle meets the blade is one of the weakest points of any spade. It is subject to pressure, and it bends or snaps. First, the one-piece construction increases the robustness, but it is also long so that the handle is buried deep into it. This reduces the pressure it sustains and increases longevity.
Weight: 4.14 pounds
Blade dimensions: 7.5-inches wide, and 11.5 inches deep
Who is it for?
The Bulldog Evergreen is best for professional gardeners given the durability of the tool.
Incorporates an epoxy-coating that protects it from the elements
It is ergonomic for superior comfort and control
The wood is hand-tuned for superior control
It is maneuverable in tight spots
Well, it is pricey and is dull; you have to put in quite the work to sharpen the blade
8. SPAI Steel D-Handle Square Spade
Moreover, the blade is sharpened, so it is easier to penetrate tough soils and rocks. You will also appreciate the plastic handle as it provides a firm grip, and absorbs shock. Nevertheless, our best features were the comfort step and the one-piece construction.
One-piece construction – Most traditional spades have too many connections which happen to be their weak points. The socket is the Achilles heel of most spades but not in the SPAI square spade. The One-piece construction eliminates all weak spots and ensures the pressure exerted is distributed to other parts. Moreover, the hardened steel can withstand abuse.
Foot step – The foot step allows you to apply force with your feet without damaging your work boots. The huge foot step coupled with the substantial length ensures you can put all your weight on the spade.
Weight: 6.4 pounds
Who is it for?
The SPAI is for heavy-duty work. It is best for breaking up tough soils or for rocky soils.
It can withstand abuse without wear and tear
It is a fraction of the price of the Bulldog Evergreen
The blade is sharpened, so it is easier to penetrate the soil
It is bulky, and cannot be used for extended periods
9. Mintcraft PRO 38468 Long Handle/Fiberglass
Moreover, the fiberglass handle absorbs vibrations and shock and allows you to work in areas with utility lines as it is non-conductive. Nevertheless, our top features were the rivetless build and the foot platform.
Socket – The Mintcraft 38648 has a rather long neck, and the shaft is buried deep inside. This transfers the pressure exerted on the socket to a larger area for longevity. Furthermore, it reduces the strain by using a crimpled-steel collar over rivets.
Foot platform – The enormous foot platform allows you to exert force with your legs. Couple that with the long handle that gives you a comfortable grip and enables you to employ your entire weight.
Weight: 5.05 pounds
Materials: steel blade and fiberglass handle.
Who is it for?
We recommend the 38648 for edging, cutting trenches, and transplanting. It is also ideal for digging in areas with utility lines.
It is built to last with the rivetless socket
Using thanks to the foot platform and long handle is effortless
Though it has the leverage, it lacks the control and grip a D-handle provides
10. DeWit Perennial Spade with Long Handle
At 38” it is maneuverable allowing you to get close to plants and obstacles but also happens to be long for the leverage. Our best features though were the handles, the blade.
Handle – Since the handle is long, it enables you to work while standing instead of kneeling, or stooping over. Also, it is wooden and thus absorbs vibration and shock. The weight to strength ratio is also incredible, and there is also the classic look thanks to the wooden handle.
Blade – The boron steel blade is hand forged, and the one-piece construction increases the strength. Moreover, it happens to be abrasion resistant for longevity.
Weight: 1.5 pounds
Blade dimensions: 4.5” * 4.5-inches
Who is it for?
We recommend it for seniors given that it is lightweight. Furthermore, it is best for applications such as edging and transplanting.
The wooden handle is simple enough to replace
It is ideal for working in tight spots
The wooden handle happens to be its shortcoming as it splinters and snaps under pressure
Gardening Spade Buying Criteria
Spades feature three types of handles; the D-ring, O-handle, and the T-handle. The D-ring handle allows for a firm hold. Though most D-ring handles are wooden, newer versions are from “man-made” material that results in a soft feel.
D-handles are inclined to increase the reach and leverage. O-handles are popular on Radius spades and are best for harsh grounds.
Finally, you can consider the T-handles; though they are back in fashion, they aren’t as durable and versatile as D-handle spades.
The material used to construct the spade will determine the durability of the tool. We recommend you pick a spade made of stainless steel or carbon. Stainless steel is robust, rust, and corrosion resistant. However, these are bulky and will require a lot of effort on your part. Moreover, most stainless steel blades are welded onto the flange, and that happens to be their weakness.
Carbon, on the other hand, is durable and lighter than steel. However, it isn’t rust or corrosion resistant and unlikely to form a strong weld. However, a spade with a carbon steel blade and socket forged as one is strong to rival stainless steel.
A spade shaft can be wooden, metallic, or fiberglass and nyglass. Hardwood shafts have been widely used as they have the best strength to weight ratio, and are great at absorbing shock and vibrations. However, they splinter and aren’t as robust as metal and fiberglass.
Wood is also vulnerable to water. Conversely, metallic handles are durable and form the best joins with the blade. However, they aren’t ideal for absorbing shock and are uncomfortable to use in hot weather as they are great conductors of heat. Finally, fiberglass combines the best of both wood and metal but it flexes under pressure and difficult to replace should it break.
Spade or Shovel Type
The American spade has a pointed shovel blade which is easier to drive thus ideal for working on rocky Contrariwise, the English spade is rectangular with a flat edge, and best for digging square trenches.
Finally, we have the Irish spade that focuses force on the soil in front and is best for deeper digging.
Finishes help protect the spade from the elements, and wear and tear. Epoxy powder is used on steel by spraying highly charged epoxy at the grounded steel. We can also recommend Teflon and gloss coatings. However, the coat wears out with time.
Pick a spade whose socket and blade are hand-forged from a single piece of metal for durability. Moreover, pick a tool with a strapped handle connection as these are the strongest. Furthermore, select a piece of equipment with shoe protectors. Your feet will thank you
What is the difference between a long-handled and a short-handled spade?
Application happens to be one of the significant differences. Long-handled spades provide longer reach and enable you to trench and edge with ease. Moreover, they have better leverage to move items around the garden.
Short handled units, on the other hand, has better grip and provide better control. Also, they are great for getting close to plants without damaging and having to contend with obstacles.
How do I maintain my spades?
Maintaining your spade ensures that they serve you longer. First, make it a habit to clean your tools after every application. Hose them and then wipe using a clean, dry rag. Next, store all your spades in a dry place preferably hanging on a wall or standing against a wall. This is especially crucial for spades with wooden handles.
To keep your spades clean, put sand in a bucket, and dampen it with multi-purpose oil. Afterward, stick your tools in the mixture. The sand keeps your spades sharp, while the oil keeps it from rusting.
Furthermore, sharpen your spades at least semi-annually. You can service them at the nearest garden center, but often it is as easy as using a flat file.
How do I keep my wooden handles from breaking?
At the end of every season, inspect your handles for splintering. Sand them smooth, and apply finishing oil until the wood cannot absorb any more oil. The oil waterproofs your handles and keeps them from rotting.
A garden spade is the pillar of any garden. A garden spade is remarkable for digging but is better for slicing through sod and edging. The shorter handles and the D or T-grip handles to ensure that spades are easy to maneuver especially close to plants.
Ensure you stick to your budget and get a tool that meets your needs. Also, feel free to ask any questions, and leave a comment below if you think there is something we missed.