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Different Types of Shovels

There are so many different types of shovels, and choosing the right one for the job can make the difference between a long day of hard labor or a simple and easy task. Shovels are invaluable garden tools, some of which are specifically designed for one job, and some of which are great workhorses that can be used for a whole host of garden activities. To fully understand the different types of shovels, first, it’s a good idea to learn about the anatomy of a shovel.

A. Grip

The grip of a shovel is the uppermost part, which is attached to the shaft. It can take the form of a wooden, plastic, or metal handle, but often there may be no handle at all, and you can use the shovel by holding onto the top part of the shaft. If the shovel shaft is made from fiberglass, then a grip handle will be attached to help prevent splinters. A D-shaped handle is common amongst shorter shovels and digging shovels, which help to increase grip.

B. Shaft

The shaft of a shovel is the long ‘pole’ like part of these tools, and it is used as leverage when operating your shovel. They are usually made from wood, fiberglass, or metal. All of these materials have pros and cons in terms of shovel use and durability, and the type you want to choose may come down to personal preference or budget. Metal shafts tend to be the strongest and most long-lasting, but wooden shafts are usually more ergonomically and aesthetically pleasing and are more popular with traditionalists. The length of a shovel shaft can vary, and the height of your shovel should be matched to your own height so that it is comfortable to use.

C. Collar

The collar of a shovel is where the blade meets the shaft. It’s important that the collar is secure and sturdy; otherwise, it may crumble or snap during heavy work. The collar usually connects to the shaft and handle portion of the shovel with a rivet or screw, and can be disconnected if you need to replace either end. A blade usually has a much longer lifespan than the shaft and handle, so if either of those parts breaks, then you can buy replacements and attach them to your old blade at the collar.

D. Kickplate

The kickplate of a shovel is also known as a step. It is the uppermost edge of a blade where you can place your foot to add pressure, though not all shovels will have a kickplate. Kickplates are usually found on digging shovels where the extra weight of the user can be utilized to dig deeper into the ground. Using a kickplate will achieve better results, and also makes the job much easier for the user, as they can use their weight to help dig rather than just arm and back muscles.

E. Blade

The blade of a shovel is the lowermost part of the tool, which makes contact with the ground. It is usually made of metal or aluminum, though in some instances might be fiberglass or plastic. Shovel blades come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and it is arguably the design of the blade that makes the most difference between different shovel types.

F. Tip

The tip of a shovel is the lower edge of the blade, furthest from the shaft. It takes various shapes depending on the intended use of the shovel. Flat tips are best for scooping or moving, while pointed and rounded tips work best for cutting and digging.

Buying Guide

If you’re looking for a new shovel, take a minute to think about these considerations before making your choice. Purchasing the right tool for the job will make life much easier and save you time and money.

A. Intended Use

There are numerous shovels available which have been designed with specific needs in mind. If you’re an avid landscape gardener and enjoy having plenty of tools to get the job done just right, then go ahead and buy the shovel designed exactly for the job at hand, e.g., a trenching shovel for digging trenches, or a post hole shovel for creating post holes. However, if you’re fairly inexperienced in gardening and won’t be spending too much time working in your hard, then you’ll be better off buying just one good quality digging shovel. If you buy right, a digging shovel will last you many years, maybe even decades, and can be used for a multitude of garden jobs, including trenching, weeding, digging, and moving soil.

B. Blade Shape

The shape of the blade you want for your shovel will depend on the type of soil you have, so make sure you know what you’re working with before you make a purchase. Flat edged shovels are best for working with loose soils, and they are also good for scooping and edging. Round blades are better suited to softer or newer soils, while pointed shovels are best in hard or compacted soils.

C. Size and Weight

The height of the shovel is important to prevent physical pain of the user, most commonly upper back or shoulder pain. The ideal height of a shovel should be about four inches lower than your shoulder when it is stood up straight. The weight is also an important consideration, as a heavy shovel will tire you out quickly, whereas a light shovel will not be as durable. This is why some people own various shovels for different jobs, so they can customize the type of shovel they’re using to the type of task they want to complete. If you plan to use your shovel to move lots of material, for example, a large pile of stone pebbles, then a lightweight shovel will be better so that you can move the pebbles without getting exhausted. For digging, a heavier shovel will be best, as these will be sturdier and more able to handle the pressure that comes with digging ground.

D. Construction Material

The construction material of a shovel is a vital consideration when choosing which shovel to buy, and the material you want will depend on your requirements. For heavy-duty jobs, you will need a heavy-duty shovel, so one made from solid steel will be best. If the whole shovel is made from one solid material, then it won’t snap at the collar point (as this is the weakest point of most shovels and the cause for most breakages). If your shovel will be used for lighter work, such as scooping and moving soil, then aluminum may be a good choice as it weighs less but is relatively sturdy.

Many premium shovels are now made from titanium, which has the benefit of being lightweight but also exceptionally sturdy, even more so than steel. Titanium is also resistant to rust and will not corrode, resulting in a long-lasting shovel. Titanium shovels do come with a big price tag, which might be off-putting to many people, but if you’re looking for a reliable shovel that will be with you through the years, then a titanium shovel is an excellent choice. Also pay attention to the material of the collar on a shovel, and the way that the handle and blade are attached to the shaft. A bolt will prove to be the most long-lasting, while a screw joint or press-in connections will generally not last much beyond a year.

Types of Shovel

1. Edging Shovel

This shovel is specifically designed to create neat edges around lawns or borders, creating a clean definitive edge. It has a long shaft, with a small-sized metal semi-circle attached at the bottom, and a straight footplate where you can apply pressure with your feet. The blade is usually sharp and flat, as it should be pressed directly straight down into the lawn or soil. The blade is quite shallow, as it does not need to make deep cuts to be effective. While these are predominantly used for their main purpose of creating and maintaining garden edging, they can also be useful for other tasks, including breaking up shallow roots of plants. As these shovels have quite a small blade, they are ideal for use in small areas where you need to be quite specific to avoid harming nearby plants.

2. Trench Shovel

Also known as a ditch shovel, the trenching shovel has two primary uses. Firstly, it can dig shallow trenches, and secondly, it can clean out and neaten up deeper trenches that have been created by a more powerful tool. Trench shovels have a long and narrow blade with a pointed tip, and the blade is set at an angle. Due to how narrow the blade is, there is hardly any footplate space, so driving the shovel into the ground with your weight isn’t really an option, and instead, you’ll have to use arm power. This means that anything more than a shallow trench would become very difficult and tiresome to achieve. Trench shovels are predominantly used by landscape gardeners.

3. Flat Shovel

As the name tells us, flat shovels have a flat blade. Any shovel with a flat blade is primarily designed for scooping, and they often have a slightly concave blade, like a squared-off spoon, that makes them better at carrying materials. They are useful for moving garden materials around, such as soil, mulch, or gravel, and are ideal for loading wheelbarrows or other garden containers. The flat blade means they are not great at digging, but they have a large footplate that will help you add pressure to force the blade into the ground. This is useful for shallow digging tasks such as edging or cleaning our trenches. If you want to use it for this purpose, it will work best with soft soils. Primarily, a flat shovel is for scooping, spreading, and moving, but it’s a very useful garden tool to have around as it can work for other functions. etc.

Tips For Using a Machete

Every garden has its wild spots where weeds proliferate and vines ramble.

Cutting and trimming with hedge shears will help keep exuberant growth under control, but sometimes you need a tool with more heft and more bite — a machete. Backyard swashbucklers, take up your blades: with a machete (sometimes called a cutlass), you're not just taming the blackberries, you're wielding a tool with traditions.

A machete is a powerful tool for clearing brush. In the tropics, machetes are ubiquitous, all-purpose tools: they have been used to carve trails through tropical forests, to slash out clearings for crops, to crack open coconuts and slice papayas. Use your machete to keep the peace with weeds and brush in your garden, or to serve watermelon with a flourish.

Use a machete with care and respect: it is a razor-sharp tool.

The blade of a Fiskars machete is well balanced and heavy enough to handle brush and small saplings along fence lines and in out-of-the-way places.

Tip #2

Practice personal safety and caution when using a machete.

  • Dress for the job, in sturdy shoes, long pants, and work gloves.

  • Cut in front of yourself.

  • Take big swings, leading with your elbow, so the blade meets the stems and stalks at an angle and slices through them. Never reach out to one side or the other to make quick clean-up cuts in such a way that the blade is moving toward your legs.

  • Keep your free hand well out of the way. Never grab a fistful of brush with one hand and swing the machete with the other; some users recommend holding a stout forked stick in your free hand for this purpose.

Countryman Hand Fork

The Faithfull Countryman Hand Fork is ideal for working the top soil and for the easy removal of weeds and unwanted growth where the entire root needs to be removed. Made from heat treated (hardened) carbon steel to provide both strength and durability. Powder coated finish provides improved resistance to rust, scratches, humidity and alkalines in the soil.

Fitted with a European Ash handle supplied from FSC® sustainable resources. These are then lacquered for protection against the weather. The small size allows it to work in tight spaces where a long handle tool cannot be used.

Because they are often used for digging up weeds, hand forks are sometimes referred to as 'weeding forks' but they are suited to many jobs around the garden, such as preparing planting holes, transplanting, aerating and mixing additives into your soil and are indispensable for levelling around border edges and tidying up the soil.

The Countryman Range has been designed for the gardener who requires a tool they can rely on to provide years of dependable service.

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