How to Use a Garden Spade: The Key to the Perfect Garden Bed

how to use a garden spade

Last Updated on July 8, 2021

Do you know how to use a garden spade? You would think that using gardening tools would not be a problem, especially when dealing with a garden spade. However, you would be surprised to discover that people get confused about the shovel blade and which one is best for which job.

The result is that people make mistakes, so we should go through how to correctly use a garden spade to prevent you from running into problems.

When You Would Use a Garden Spade

But first, let’s quickly run over when you would use a garden spade in the first place.

This tool is perfect for either creating new garden beds or turning over an old garden bed. A garden spade can be used for digging holes, dividing plants, lifting loose material; the list is pretty endless.

However, each option requires a slightly different technique and approach to get the best out of it.

Also, the different tasks we are talking about here can be done with any spade. No matter if you have a straight handle version or a long-handled spade, the one tool is capable of doing so much in your garden. However, we recommend the long-handled version if you are digging for long periods; it’s just easier on your back.

Dealing With a Garden Bed

A spade is an excellent tool for working on a garden bed. If you want to create a new one, then use a spade with a flat blade. It creates a better edge to the bed.

For this, you need to mark out the line that you will be digging. Then, with the straight blade, hold the spade straight up, and push down on the spade. That’s going to create a crisp, straight line.

As a general rule here, use the spade itself to wiggle the sod free from the rest of the grass or the rest of the edge. That will clearly mark where the bed is going to be located.

You can then use the blade to remove the loose material from the edge, giving you the shape of the bed once done.

Adding Organic Matter to the Bed

With a bed, you will want to add some organic matter to the soil. This gives it more nutrients, and plants will find it easier to grow. With this, you need to dig the organic material into the soil; your spade is perfect for this as well.

The best approach is to spread the material over the bed. Your spade is ideal, as you can use the blade to push and pull the material all over the ground. Then, use your spade to start digging the soil and turning it over to effectively mix up the organic material with the soil that’s already in there.

That will then help distribute all of that goodness in the compost while making it ready for those plants.

Digging Holes for Plants

One of the best things about gardening is growing plants, and the spade will be your best friend. Now, for smaller plants, such as bedding varieties, it’s best to use a hand trowel to dig the hole. It is pure because of the size of the hole that’s required.

However, if you are going for a larger plant or even a tree, then a spade is your best option.

For this, you need to put down the plant to see the size of the hole you need to dig. If you are just digging wildly, then you will create a wrong size hole.

Use the spade to mark around the edge of the pot. It lets you see the hole you need to dig as soon as you move the pot from the ground.

Then, hold the spade straight and put your foot on top of the blade. Push down with your weight, and the blade will slice through the ground with ease. Then use the face as a lever to lift up the soil and place it elsewhere. You may find it easier to change the angle of the shovel blade when lifting the material. It should scoop up rather than falling back to the ground.

Do this around the entire hole you need for the plant creating a pile of soil. Once that is done, you are ready to add the plant or trees.

Dealing With Weeds

The problem with weeds is that their roots can get everywhere. Often, they can go quite deep into the ground, but your spade is perfectly suited for helping with this job.

Gardeners around the world pull their hair out when dealing with weeds in their beds. You could get down on your hands and knees to deal with them, but when the bed is empty, spades and shovels will be the best tools.

The best method for using a garden spade in this instance is to simply use the sharp blade to break up the soil and loosen the dirt. This makes it easier for you to fish out the weeds, as they are no longer stuck in the ground.

Once again, use your weight on the top of the blade and push down. For this, you don’t even have to use the entire length of the blade. The key here is in trying to free the roots to remove them then.

After digging over the bed, use a garden rake to draw each weed into a clump making it easier to pick them up.

Dividing Plants

Gardeners will have their favourite plants, but if something is getting too big, or if you want more than one of them, then transplanting only a part of it is a viable option.

With this job, you want to use the sharp edge of your spade to help get through the root systems and then divide the plant.

Here, you want to dig around the edge of the plant in question. Break the soil, and lift the plant in a clump. If you are unsure how big the root ball will be, consult gardening websites to get a better idea.

Then, take your tool and remove as much of the soil as possible to expose the roots. Your next step is to use your shovel to slice through the bottom of the plant, creating two pieces.

It may sound brutal, but spades are perfect for this task. You need to hold it at a straight angle like you do when edging a new bed. You must hold the blade flat, and then you will have two sections ready for planting.

After that, go back to the earlier approach when we spoke about planting trees or anything else and repeat the process.

Start Using Your Garden Spade

As you can see, knowing how to use a garden spade is important since it is a useful tool that can be used for a multitude of tasks in gardens. From creating those edges to helping with the transplanting of new plants. To lifting gravel, creating a trench, or cutting sections out of your grass. Spades have you covered.

Finally, we do recommend you own both spades and shovels. Each tool has its own uses, but the methods and techniques remain the same. So, whether you are planting, or adding compost, at least you have the correct equipment to make life a whole lot easier.

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