The Garden Guide

Spades - review

Call a spade a spade. Not a shovel. The word "spade" comes from the Latin word "spada" meaning "blade". The spade is the ultimate hand digging tool. Although the shovel can dig, its forte is to lift and throw. The main differences between a spade and a shovel are:

  • the blade of a spade is flat rather than dished
  • the shaft of a shovel tends to meet the blade at a slight angle
  • the shaft of a spade meets the blade at no angle for maximum force
  • the shaft of a spade is shorter than that of a shovel with a handle at the end

The best spades have a blade forged from a single piece of high carbon steel. Fiberglass and metal shafts are stronger than even a high quality ash shaft but do not absorb shock so well. Stainless steel spades are also available but tend to bend if they are not of the best quality. They are less easy to sharpen than carbon steel blades.

Spades come in two sizes:

  • border spades (smaller and for use in flower borders)
  • general spades (larger and designed for heavy digging)

Bulldog Evergreen Digging Spade - solid forged from a single piece of steel