Spade vs Shovel What is the Difference? is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

For most people, a spade and a shovel mean pretty much the same thing, which is not true. A spade differs from a shovel, albeit slightly. This article will, therefore, focus on some of the differences between a spade and a shovel in what can be termed as a spade vs shovel debate.

Differences in material and weight

Do spades and shovels differ in terms of material used? The truth is, there is very little or no difference in material between a spade and a shovel. Both of them are fixed with wood or fiberglass handles. The blades are generally made of carbon or steel. However, it is essential to note that most blades are made of stainless steel to keep a hold of rusting, which, ideally, is the greatest destroyer of metals.

Examples of materials that are also used include aluminum, iron, and plastic. Focusing on this spade shovel debate, one may ask if there is a difference in weight between the two. The weight of these two depends on the materials used in their formation. How? Let us explore this further. Steel is generally lightweight, and therefore, a spade or shovel made of steel is lighter. Apart from rust control, this is also a reason why garden tools are made of steel. Iron is a really heavy metal and therefore used in the making of only select tools.

Iron is only used in the formation of a few full-sized shovels. I cannot say the same for a garden spade. Note, however, that the weight also depends on the usability of these two tools. Spades, therefore, have heavier blades because they are used for breaking ground, which may include hard surfaces.

A shovel, on the other hand, is only used for scooping and moving material, and therefore the blade is generally lighter. A spade should also be stronger, and consequently, you will mostly find that the handle is made of metal, which adds to its weight.

Difference in cost

Cost is usually a resulting factor. Even though there are no defined price tags for these two, the difference may set in regarding the materials used. Spades and shovels fixed with superior materials fetch higher prices. A garden spade or shovel fixed with fiberglass handles is often more costly than those with wooden handles. The same applies to materials used in the formation of the blades.

Aluminum is pretty durable and will fetch for a higher price. Iron is heavy and vulnerable to rust, and therefore, a spade or shovel made from it will not be as expensive. You, however, need to understand that when looking for a good tool, you should get a decent one, which usually costs more money. Shovels are suited for heavier work and therefore made of better materials.

Most of the time, therefore, shovels are slightly costly as compared to the spades.

The difference in the handles

One of the main differences between a garden spade and the shovel is found in the handle. How does a spade’s handle look? For spades, the handle usually is shorter ( This is not express. Some have longer handles)A short handle in a blade may have a T or D shaped ending, which is usually placed to provide a more comfortable grip. The edge of the spade is also generally in line with the handle facilitating the generation of maximum force through the blade.

difference in the handles

What about the handle of the shovel? For shovels, the handles are not in line with the blade. They are customarily angled forward relative to the blade. Shovel handles can also differ in length, some are long, and others are shorter. The length is usually a matter of preference. The advantage associated with a long handle is pretty simple, however. A longer handle guarantees easier work since by increasing effort distance, the force applied is lowered.

In summary, a garden spade has a nearly straight handle to help control the shape of the scoop. The long, straight handles in shovels play a more prominent role in digging deep holes. If you want to work efficiently in a flower bed, I would advise that you settle on a spade with a shorter shaft.

The difference in the blades

This is where the spade v shovel discussion kicks off officially. Shovels and spades have different blade shapes and appearances because of their uses. However, it is essential first to understand that these two can either have a pointed or a flat-edged blade, which is not, yet, a defining feature. What then is the difference?

difference in the blades

A spade has a sharp-edged blade typically with a flat or relatively shallow profile. The blade normally has a treaded back. To ensure that extra force can be applied for cutting and breaking purposes, one will spot bent foot platforms. What about the size? A spade’s blade is generally smaller than that of a shovel. This is usually as a result of the different uses that we will look at in the next paragraphs. What about shovels?

Shovels have curved or concave blades that resemble a scoop. The edges can either be pointed or square. Traditionally, the edges of the blades were generally pointed, which has since been overtaken by squared edges. Square edged shovels work best while scooping in hard grounds such concrete. What about the size? The blade of a shovel is normally larger so that more material can be moved in one scoop, which also makes it broader than the one in spades.

Differences in uses

This is where the main difference between these two gardening tools is. What are the uses of a spade? A spade is used primarily for digging. It is therefore designed for breaking grounds, a factor that makes it heavier than a shovel. A spade can also be used to cut through tree roots and other materials alike. It is, therefore, an essential tool in the garden when it comes to tree planting, grass removal and digging a flower bed. It will also come in handy when cutting garden edges.

A shovel, on the other hand, stems from the word shoveling and is therefore used in scooping. This is the reason why it has a curved and broader blade-to carry as much material as possible in one scoop. You can also use a shovel when moving loose materials. A vast difference that also exists is versatility. A shovel is less versatile since it is only restricted to scooping.

It is agreeable that both can perform slightly similar tasks. However, a shovel does a better work than a spade. A spade is also heavier than a shovel and therefore suited for even more demanding tasks.

Even though these two have their differences, there also exist similarities. This is perhaps one of the reasons why most people mistake shovels for spades and vice versa. Let us explore some of the similarities, therefore.

The Main Differences

  • Grip- Both of these two gardening tools have a grip along the shaft to accommodate your hands. This is normally present in both wooden and fiberglass handles. The fiberglass handles are, however, superior since they provide a place where your hands will be kept free from splinters.
  • Handle- For both handles, the material used is either wood or fiberglass. The only difference, therefore, is the length. Remember, however, different jobs require different handle lengths, and therefore you need to be careful in your selection.
  • Kickplate- Both of these gardening tools have kick plates in which you can place your foot when you want to apply extra force in driving your appliance into the ground.
  • Tip- The tips are either rounded or flat. The tip of the blade is what generally dictates the type of jobs that can be achieved by either of these tools. We have seen this in our prior discussions.

Shovels are broad, and therefore, there exist different types of shovels. The most common are:

  • Trench shovels- Also know as a cleanout shovel, this fantastic tool has a narrow blade and a sharper curve at the end, which true to its name, is used in cleaning out and defining trenches. In case you need to follow up on shallow lines in garden beds, this is your ultimate tool.
  • Flat shovels- So that you do not get confused about this spade v shovel debate, flat shovels exist. Just from its name, this type normally has a slightly concave shape with a flat head. This type is usually used in digging and breaking ground. It also serves well in edging.
  • Digging shovels- These are usually the most versatile type of shovels. They can, therefore, execute several tasks. They have slightly curved upsides, which help in holding the dug up materials.

Our Recommendation

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We have looked at some of the differences between a spade and a best garden shovel. I hope that you can easily differentiate the two, therefore. We also acknowledge that these two generally closely resemble hence the confusion. Some of the differences are usually found in the blades and the shaft. A significant difference also exists in the uses which we have also tactfully explored. Ensure, therefore, that you take charge of your gardening by knowing what each tool is best fitted for. I hope that this discussion has been of great help.