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17 Different Types of Shovels & Their Uses (with Pictures)



To the untrained eye, a shovel is just a shovel, but some designs are more effective for specific tasks. If you select the wrong shovel for the job, you might be thoroughly disappointed by the results. Have you ever tried digging a hole for a young oak tree with a hand shovel? Knowing which shovel you need can be tricky at first. To simplify the process, we’ve thoroughly researched the shovel world and made a comprehensive list of every type of shovel. To find out about the many uses of shovels, read on.

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The 17 Different Types of Shovels & Their Uses

Basic Shovel

1.  Standard Shovel

shovel on brown sand
Image Credit: Pikrepo

The standard shovel has a long handle, a large shovel face, and a digging blade. This tool is incredibly handy for a variety of purposes. The standard shovel is a reliable tool to keep around the house, whether you use it for hole digging or snow shoveling.

Digging Shovels

When most people think of shovels, they think of digging shovels. They are designed with pointed blades at the end to help cut through the soil. There are various styles of digging shovels, which allow you to create different kinds of holes.

2. Entrenching Tool

Entrenching tool
Image Credit: Yada goemans, Shutterstock

Entrenching tools are foldable shovels for making quick holes or a basic trench. These nifty devices are often found in military surplus stores and are familiar favorites for campers and hikers. The shovelhead includes one side that is sharp for cutting through dirt and another side that is serrated for easy sawing.

3. Trench Shovel

Stanley Garden BDS7671 Fiberglass Trenching Shovel

One of the lesser-known shovels is the trench shovel. Unlike other digging shovels, the head is not very sharp because it is designed for removing loosened dirt and rock. You would use a different shovel to dig the hole or trench and then select a trench shovel to finish the work.

4. Drain Spade

Nupla SS14L-E Drain Spade

A drain spade is an invaluable tool for landscaping. It has a skinny head that helps shape the soil to create a perfect hole for transplanting a shrub or tree. Although it is used for making holes, they’re better at shaping ground than moving it.

5. Post-Hole Digger

Seymour PD48 Post Hole Digger

Making a posthole can be difficult if you do not have a posthole digger. It uses two shovelheads that are connected blade to blade. This allows the shovel to push quickly into the earth and lift out the dirt. The shovel’s design also allows for skinnier holes, which are needed for post holes.

Gardening Shovels

Whether you are a professional gardener or an avid hobbyist, shovels are a staple in the garden. Most gardeners like to have a variety of shovels on hand for planting new additions, removing vegetation, and creating the most beautiful garden possible.

6. Garden Trowel

gardening trowel
Image Credit: Pixabay

A garden trowel is an essential gardening shovel. Even those without a garden should have one for minor tasks around the yard. It is a simple handheld shovel that is used for making small holes. You can use it for potted plants or light landscaping work. Hikers and campers also like to have a garden trowel for digging scat holes in the woods.

7. Root Shovel

using Radius Garden 22011 Root Slayer Shovel

When planting a new plant, you must create a hole that cuts through existing roots from other trees and shrubs. The root shovel is designed to do just that. It creates a space for the new plant until it can flourish independently.

8. Dixter Trowel

A Dixter trowel has a long, narrow blade for reaching hard-to-reach spots and transplanting bulbs. As the name suggests, the Dixter trowel was used by the gardener Christopher Lloyd in the Great Dixter. There, he used this trowel for planting seedlings with long root systems.

9. Planting Trowel

Tierra Garden DeWit Potting Trowel

Sometimes, you need a little extra help digging through difficult soil. A planting trowel has a leaf-shaped, sharp blade that cuts through dirt easily. This trowel is ideal for planting bulbs, turning soil near the surface, and separating perennials.

10. Transplant Spade

Shortie Transplant Spade

If you intend to transplant trees, shrubs, or bushes in your garden, the transplant spade may be the tool for you. It allows you to prepare the soil to introduce new plants to the landscape. A transplant spade is different from the traditional shovel in that it has a flatter blade.

Scooping Shovels

After you dig deep holes, you often need to remove excess dirt and rocks. Scooping shovels are designed to remove dirt, sawdust, or other small clumps. Though they aren’t used for digging holes, they are helpful because of their large blades. You can quickly tell the difference between a digging and a scooping shovel by looking at the head. Scooping shovels have flat heads.

11.  Square Point Shovel

Nupla SP14L-E #2 Ergo Power Square Point Shovel

If you need to move debris but don’t want a huge shovel, then the square point shovel may be what you’re looking for. The shovel is small enough to use as a sorting tool, but you can also lift away lighter and less intense debris.

12.  Scoop Shovel

scoop shovel
Image Credit: Pixabay

Scoop shovels help remove large amounts of debris, dirt, wood, or anything else. They have a unique design that is easy to pinpoint. The handles are short, and the blade is large with rigid edges. This is the shovel you want if you need to move large amounts of debris.

13. Mulch Scoop

Bully Tools 92400 Mulch:Snow Scoop with Fiberglass D-Grip Handle

All landscapers need a mulch scoop. As you probably guessed, the shovels move and spread mulch. The easiest way to identify a mulch scoop is that its handle is longer than other scoop shovels.

Snow Shovels

If you live in an area prone to snowy winters, you probably know about snow shovels. There are several snow shovels, and each type targets a specific task. For example, some snow shovels remove snow from driveways, while others break up ice.

14. Snow Shovel

snow shovel
Image Credit: Pixabay

Snow shovels are a must for snowy environments and are typically made of plastic or aluminum, which makes them easier to handle when lifting heavy loads. Snow shovels are ideal for areas with fluffier or lighter snow.

15. Stainless Steel Shovel

UltraSource 500210 Stainless Steel Shovel

The stainless steel shovel works in the same way as a snow shovel, but it is much more durable. Its steel frame will last longer and is strong enough to chip away patches of ice. You should use a stainless steel snow shovel if you live in areas prone to icing over.

16. Ergonomic Shovel

Snow Joe SJ-SHLV01 Shovelution Strain-Reducing Snow Shovel

Although an ergonomic shovel is not explicitly made for snow, it is handy if you need to shovel snow frequently. The ergonomic design of these shovels helps transfer the weight onto the shovel instead of your body. This makes it easier to scoop large volumes of snow at one time.

17. Folding Snow Shovel

Trazon Folding Snow Shovel for Driveway Car Home Garage

Sometimes, snow can come when you least expect it. Prepare for the worst by keeping a folding snow shovel in your car. It can help you remove snow from under your car while taking up minimal space in your vehicle.

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How to Pick the Right Shovel for Your Needs

Picking out the right shovel depends mostly on your needs. As we have seen, there are several shovels that satisfy specific uses. Here is how to determine what shovel is right for you:

1. Choose a Shovel Category

Begin by determining if you need a basic, digging, gardening, scooping, or snow shovel.

2. Think About Your Specific Use 

Once you know which shovel you need, think about the specific use for the shovel. This will tell you more precisely the type of shovel you need. For example, you may have decided you need a gardening shovel. Consider whether you need a shovel for small jobs or transplanting bushes. Your needs will tell you the exact type of shovel you should select.

3. Read Reviews and Buyer’s Guides 

Before purchasing a shovel, read reviews and buyer’s guides of various shovel brands and models. This will help you to find a shovel that is durable, efficient, and comfortable to use

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What’s the Difference Between a Shovel and a Spade?

Shovels and spades are valuable tools, but they are used for different purposes. A shovel digs and cuts through surfaces, while a spade creates a straight edge. You can tell the difference between the two types by looking at their blades. Shovels have pointed blades, making it easier to go through the soil. On the other hand, Spades have flat or square-shaped blades that cut through sod or create straight edges.

Do Shovels Need to be Sharpened?

Cutting through dirt and rock can dull your shovel. If you find that your shovel is no longer sharp, you can sharpen it. Here’s how to do it:

  • Clean the shovel with a wire brush.
  • Place the shovel in a clamp or vise.
  • Sharpen the shovel with a file, coarse abrasive stone, or handheld grinder. Use the shovel’s angle as a guide, or sharpen it at a 45-degree angle. Sharpen the inside edge.
  • Sharpen until you feel a burr on the backside of the shovel.

How Do You Clean Shovels?

Cleaning a shovel is easy if you do it immediately after use.

  • Remove dirt and debris by spraying with a garden hose.
  • Spray rust-preventing spray to extend the life.
  • Hang shovels so that the blades are not resting on the ground.

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Shovels are unique and helpful tools, but they are less straightforward than they may appear. They come in a variety of designs that are suitable for several purposes. Upgrade your craftsman game by selecting the perfect shovel for your needs that allows you to dig, cut, or move dirt as efficiently as possible.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay


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