A shovel is a simple garden tool with a concave, broad blade with a curved tip. Not all shovels have curved tips because different types of shovels are designed for various uses. Typically, a shovel has a straight, long shaft to assist its user while digging or moving materials.

Shovels are useful garden tools and are of different types for carrying out various activities. However, many of us do not know that there are different kinds of shovels for different operations. Growing up, we had only one shovel that we used to dig holes, transplant seedlings, carry soils, harvest roots, etc.

Understanding the different functions and types of shovels will preserve the tools longer and make your work easier.

Besides, apart from not knowing the kinds of shovels to use, most people can’t differentiate between a shovel and a spade. This article is for you if you can’t tell a spade from a shovel or a trench shovel from a flat shovel. We will discuss the anatomy of a shovel and the various types that there are.

Anatomy of a shovel

Anatomy of a shovel

Although shovels are simple tools, their different constructions can define their functions in a garden. But, every shovel has these six basic parts:

  1. Blade. The blade of a shovel is usually concave and is used to hold and lift materials. This feature differentiates a shovel from a spade, which has a flatter blade.
  2. Blade tip. The blade tips of shovels range from round to flat, depending on what the shovel is used for.
  3. Kickplate. The kickplate of a shovel is a flat area on top of a shovel’s blade where you can place your foot to drive it into the ground. Kickplates differ from shovel to shovel.
  4. Collar. The collar of a shovel is the point that joins the shovel blade with the handle. In most shovels, a screw or rivet is used to tighten the bond and can be replaced when the handle breaks.
  5. Handle. The handle of a shovel, also known as a shaft, is the leverage that allows you to hold or use your shovel. Handles are usually made from fiberglass or wood and come in different lengths.
  6. Grip. A grip is a D-shaped unit where you place your hand. Grips are mostly found in fiberglass shovels since they cover the sharp ends of the shaft. Wooden shovels, on the other hand, don’t always have grips.

Types Of Shovels And Their Uses

Different Types of Shovels & Uses; How to Identify One

1. Trench (or clean out) shovels. A trench shovel comes with a long, narrow blade with a very sharp tip. The tip is especially sharp to define trenches. They are mostly used after power trenchers or to dig out shallow lines along garden beds.  

2. Flat shovels. A flat shovel resembles a spade because its blade is flatter than the remaining shovel types. However, it still passes as a shovel since it is concaved too. Flat shovels have flat tips for scooping and transferring materials.

3. Edging shovels. Edging shovels are specially designed for edging garden beds and other edges. Their blades are shaped like half a pizza cutter and are usually flat to make precise cuts into the ground. Edging shovels are useful for separating perennials, cutting through shallow roots, and most activities that require going through tight spaces without damaging the surroundings.

4. Digging shovels. Digging shovels have the most versatile designs of all other shovel types. A digging shovel has slightly curved-up sides that hold dug-out materials. They can be used for many different activities but not always comfortable for activities other than digging. Diggers are subdivided as follows:

  • Square diggers. Square diggers are flat-tipped shovels used for edging, trenching, and cutting through roots.
  • Pointed diggers. Pointed diggers are digging shovels with pointed tips for breaking through tough soils without too much effort.
  • Round diggers. Round diggers, with rounded tips, are used to dig through softer soils and transplanting crops. They go through soils more easily than square diggers, but not as much as pointed diggers.

5. Mini (handheld) shovels. Mini shovels are usually 6-8 inches long with rounded or pointed blade tips. They are designed as garden tools for digging and weeding, transplanting seedlings, and planting seeds. They are sized small enough to fit the hand.

6. Post-hole shovels. Post-hole shovels are also known as clamshell diggers or post hole diggers. They are made of two curved blades with handles that resemble two shovels tied together. They usually have rounded or pointed ends for making narrow, deep holes.

7. Tree planting shovels. Tree planting shovels are specifically designed for planting trees. They usually have narrow blades with pointed or rounded tips for digging deep through the soil and cutting through tree roots. These shovels come in different shaft lengths, depending on what the shovels are used for.

8. Scoop shovels. Scoop shovels have a broad flair with a rounded or squared tip for scooping materials like snow. Some scoop shovels are made of metal, while others are made of aluminum. While the metal versions are more durable than aluminum, they are usually heavier and more difficult to handle.

Differences Between Shovels And Spades

Differences Between Shovels And Spades

Unfortunately, shovels are very similar to spades. The diversity of shovels has already taken away the essence of having a spade at home.

But, that doesn’t mean a spade is not different from a shovel. Spades usually have shorter handles and defined D grips. Their blades are shorter and flatter than shovels’. Most spades come with squared tips as well.

Spades are also used for different purposes from shovels. Spades with wide blades can dig and edge lawn areas, while narrow-bladed spades are used to pry tiles, edge and define trenches, and transplant seedlings.

On a general scale, spades are more durable than shovels because they are usually designed for heavier duties.

Read Also: How To Start A Successful Lawn Care Business Successfully


A spade or a shovel? It depends on what you want to do, the material you want to use, and how durable you want your tool to be.

Shovels come in so many different types and use that the single use of a spade can be overlooked easily.

Nonetheless, a spade and a shovel will always be different, so are different types of shovels. They have different designs and, thus, are for different uses.


  1. Danielle Mcleod. Backyard Boss. Types of shovels: your complete guide to what works best where. [] Accessed: 15th of November, 2020.