What Is a Garden Spade Used For? Do You Need One?

what is a garden spade used for

Last Updated on July 7, 2021

What do you think you would use a garden spade for? Considering spade is one of the most popular gardening tools out there, perhaps we should investigate the different ways you can use this tool.

So if you’re looking to find out what is a garden spade used for, then you’re in the right place.

The Difference Between Shovels and Spades

People can struggle to tell the difference between shovels and spades, but it comes down to how it is used and the actual design. Also, the blade shapes are different.

With a garden shovel blade, it has more of an angle to it. With garden spades, there’s more of a rectangular blade rather than a rounded blade. Also, the spade is straighter in general than a shovel.

While all of this is important, let’s go back to the issue of when shovels typically are best and times when a spade is the best later on.

When Will You Use a Garden Spade?

The list of jobs where a garden spade can be used is extensive. So, we aren’t going to list them all here.

In saying that, let’s look at a few of them, including some, you may not have thought about.

Dividing Plants

A garden spade is one tool that can excel at dividing plants. The sharp point to a spade can slice through a root ball with ease, and it does create a clean cut that will give the plant the best chance of thriving.

You can get right through the root systems with ease, and when this is done to a plant that is hardy and can survive this brutal way of doing things, it means you can divide the plant in seconds.

Planting Trees or Plants

When dealing with large plants, using hand garden tools to dig the hole makes no sense. Instead, a garden spade can be used to dig deep holes in next to no time.

Also, trying to dig holes for plants in the likes of clay soil is tough work. Hand tools are just going to struggle in those conditions, and the same goes for hard ground.

A garden spade can make light work of this, allowing you to get those new plants in the ground in next to no time.

Creating a Garden Bed

A garden spade will be your main tool when it comes to either fixing an old bed or creating a new one in your garden. Breaking new ground before turning this part of your garden into something amazing, or whatever the intended use may be, is something most gardeners have experienced. Spades are designed to help with these sorts of jobs.

You can use spades or shovels to break through the soil, lawn, or weeds to create that bed. Then, you can use the spade to add some organic matter to the bed to help the plants grow. By the end, you will have a new addition to your home garden, and then you just wait for things to grow.

However, do note that a straight-edged shovel will be best for the edge if you want things to be straight, compared to a spade. But once everything has been created, the spade is the best tool for caring for the bed.

Tidying up Soil

Spades are the perfect tools for cleaning up the soil in your garden. Thanks to the weather, the soil becomes compact, and you need to mix up the soil to let it breathe and get that organic matter deep into the soil.

A garden spade is a perfect tool for this. A spade with a wide blade will make short work of digging up clumps and allowing you to turn over the bed, making it ready for new plants.

Also, your spade will be perfect for picking up loose material that may have spilt over out of bed. But we aren’t only talking about loose soil.

A quick note: Always try to use a spade for lifting loose material as opposed to a shovel. With a shovel blade, it’s flatter and is harder to pick up that material without it falling off the side, thanks to the flat surface. With a spade, you have no such problem.

Digging Post Holes

If you create some sort of structure in your garden, you may need to start digging a hole for a post. A garden spade is perfect for this as well since its sharp tip will break through the ground with ease.

So, as you can see, there are numerous uses for a spade, but there are also different options available for the spade in question.

Choosing the Right Spade for the Job

This means you need to think about a spade or shovel that is best suited to the gardening job you have in mind. Let’s look at different options open to you.

Flat Blades vs Rounded Blade

The two-blade shapes are suited better to different jobs. So, let’s look at the straight edge blade first, otherwise known as a flat blade. Typically, this is something that comes with a shovel more than a spade.

The Flat Blade

When you have a flat or straight blade on digging tools, then it’s going to still slice through garden beds with ease. However, the straight angle does mean that this option is not so good for digging holes.

Instead, the straight edge works better with edging a garden bed. It’s also suitable for creating straight-sided holes and making straight edges. That’s because the straight blade has less of a bevel in it, so you do get a crisper edge in that sense.

Also, if you do get a garden spade with this blade, it will be perfect for cutting sods on a lawn. It does this crisply and slices straight down. Basically, it creates a cleaner cut.

The Rounded or Angled Blade

With the rounded blade, you will find this works best when digging holes. It’s great for moving soil, and this spade is also an excellent tool for planting trees, as an example.

It works well because of the shape of the hole it creates. The slight bevel in the blade and the round head will slice through the ground while also making it easier to lift up the soil.

With a bevel in the blade, it means either the soil or other material is scooped up out of the ground to then be deposited elsewhere. It can be tough lifting up the soil with a straight shovel, thanks to it being flat, so keep this in mind when deciding on the tools you need to use.

But aside from the actual shape of the blade part, you should also think carefully about the handle.

The Shape of the Handle

In general, a spade is going to come with different options regarding the shape of the handle. A U-shape, straight handle, and T-shape are the most common.

With a U-shape handle, it’s generally viewed as giving you more purchases on things. T-shape handles are also pretty good at this part, but straight handles are seen as being better on your back. The only problem with straight handles is that the spade is often not as good at moving soil, thanks to the design of the spade.

Long or Short Handle?

Finally, there’s the question of when you should use a long-handled spade.

If you are digging soil for an extended period, using a spade with a long handle is advisable. It still provides you with the same digging ability, but the long handle stops you from having to stoop over to pick up the spade and deposit the soil elsewhere.

But the handle itself can be manufactured from different materials, such as hardwood, while fibreglass handles and fibreglass shafts. The fibreglass spade is certainly going to be lighter than those made from metal and hardwood, so that’s a good option for your spade if worried about weight.

Start Using Your Garden Spade

So, what is a garden spade used for? After reading this article, you know the list of jobs you can do with it. You can see that there are different types of spades but that the humble spade can indeed be used for various gardening jobs. Also, please don’t think that a spade and shovel are the same things. They may be similar, but there’s enough difference between the two to call them out as being something different.

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