Shovel in the Mud

The 15 Types of Shovels and How to Use Them

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Most people are familiar with the classic design of a standard shovel that has various gardening uses or is practical for all kinds of digging work. It turns out that you can take your pick between multiple types of different shovels to tackle different jobs in a more specialized manner. With the right tool for the job, you can be more productive and make the work feel less like a chore. While basic shovels are reasonably versatile, specific applications can be tackled way more efficiently if you select the correct type of shovel. Let’s take a closer look at all the distinctive shovel styles out there and help you understand how to use them.

1. Flat Shovel

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Decent for digging and excellent for moving around soil, the flat shovel is a familiar tool that can be considered indispensable for gardeners. It’s arguably the most recognizable type of shovel. Even though it appears to be ideal for digging, it turns out that you can use a flat shovel much more efficiently for lifting and moving soil or other things. A flat shovel is often used together with a wheelbarrow because it’s practical to carry gravel and dirt to it. Any moving container makes a great pairing with a flat shovel.

Thanks to its large footplate, this type of shovel can basically act like a giant spoon to scoop out materials ready for transport. The problem with its flat blade is that you can find it a little challenging to dig very deep. Coupled with the fact that this type of shovel tends to be heavy to handle, it results in only decent digging performance. However, the flat shovel works best if you need a sturdy gardening tool that’s capable of holding larger amounts of soil and gravel.

2. Pointed Digging Shovel

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With the help of its pointed blade, this type of shovel is highly recommended for gardeners that struggle with tough or compacted soils. A pointed digging shovel is reliably used to break through hard and rocky soil. It’s not just handy to have if you’re a gardener as there are lots of construction applications for it as well. Any kind of material is dug efficiently when using this type of shovel.

The pointed blade has been specially engineered with a slight curving design to penetrate easily through the toughest types of dirt. The shaft is also long enough to provide sufficient structural assistance during digging. Paired with the wide footplate, the pointed digging shovel lets the user add enough force to break through whatever is standing in their way. Having curved edges can be considered a nice advantage when it comes to scooping abilities.

3. Trench Shovel

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This type of shovel is fairly self-explanatory because the tool is used to dig or improve trenches. It features an extra-stable footplate and a long, narrow blade. Trench shovels come with pointed tips that can be somewhat similar to standard digging shovels. The main difference is that the pointy blade is set at a certain angle.

Another important detail of the trench shovel is the lack of sharpness when it comes to the tip of its blade. This is purposely done to contribute to the more efficient removal of loosened dirt when digging the trench. You may have heard the term ditch shovel and it’s worth mentioning that it’s the same type as the trench shovel.

4. Root Shovel

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The root shovel is an essential gardening tool for anyone who wishes to tackle the job of planting with utmost efficiency. As the name suggests, the shovel is specialized in destroying existing roots to make way for the new plant. Root shovels feature elongated blades in a triangular shape with serrations that help to remove plants and handle transplants in the garden.

A root shovel can become handy for various disposal jobs around the garden. It’s effective against the roots of old trees that can be extra tough to get rid of. Some root shovel designs feature a pointed tip while others have a flattened one. It comes down to personal preference whether you prefer some extra digging strength or need more surface area for holding plant materials.

5. Round Digging Shovel

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As opposed to pointed shovels that dig through hard soil with ease, round digging shovels are better suited to work on softer types of soil. Having both types of digging shovels in your gardening arsenal can help you tackle different areas of the yard more efficiently. When you run into soft soil portions, the round digging shovel makes it a breeze to dig and move around plants. It’s versatile enough to be used for construction applications as well given how the curved edges of the blade let you move materials to a utility wagon without too many difficulties.

6. Edging Shovel

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Want to create clean-looking edges for your garden? Your best bet is to select an edging shovel that’s specifically built for this purpose. It helps you make elegant borders thanks to its flat blade and straight footplate. The edging shovel allows the user to distribute soil material conveniently in the yard while the blade features decent sharpness to work comfortably when dealing with shallow plant roots.

Although edging shovels aren’t very useful when it comes to digging holes, they’re more versatile than you’d expect. Lots of elements in your yard can make use of attractive borders. Aside from the garden, this type of shovel can be practical to make driveways and sidewalks look neater. The ingenious design of an edging shovel allows it to work safely without the risk of damaging surrounding plants by causing an upturn in the soil.

7. Handheld Shovel

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A handheld shovel is considered a must-have tool by most gardening enthusiasts. Thanks to its reduced size, the shovel boasts superior user-friendliness compared to standard shovels that are harder to maneuver. Instead of requiring both hands and a lot of force to operate, this type of shovel can be used with only one hand. Some of the best gardening applications for handheld shovels include weed removal and planting. You can dig small holes quite comfortably if you’re not afraid to get your hands and knees dirty.

In terms of handheld shovel types, there’s a great variation to choose from. Standard models show narrow blades with a slight curvature to improve scooping. Blades can be either rounded or pointed to work on different types of soil more efficiently. The garden trowel is a common type of handheld shovel that’s typically used for potted plants or various landscaping jobs. It’s not just handy for gardeners as campers or hikers can also find uses for these lightweight trowels.

8. Scoop Shovel

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Whether you’re a gardener or construction worker, having a scoop shovel can save you a lot of time and effort. This type of shovel is reliable when you need to move around large amounts of soil or other materials. The shovel is specially designed for scooping so it usually has a flat tip with sturdy side edges that keep materials in place. To make it more ergonomic and increase your productivity, the scoop shovel features a short shaft paired with a fairly large blade.

There are lots of versatile uses for a scoop shovel besides gardening applications. It can be used to transport gravel on a construction site or you can keep the driveway clear of snow. There are distinctive types of scoop shovels out there to match particular needs. It’s generally recommended to select a scoop shovel built from a durable kind of metal to ensure that it last longer. Aluminum models are more user-friendly to operate but they have a shorter lifespan.

9. Spade Shovel

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Having a shovel with a smaller blade and a sharp edge can be useful for lots of gardening projects. Consider using a spade shovel that’s designed in this way to help you dig garden beds just as efficiently as it lets you saw through strong plant roots. Spade shovels are versatile tools that feature a shallow profile to ensure proper user maneuverability. This type of shovel is designed with a treaded back that brings some extra power when you need to break tougher soil areas.

Standard spade shovel designs incorporate a short shaft with a D-handle. The easiest way to distinguish between a spade and a classic shovel is the flatness of its blade. Spades have straight edges that stand out compared to the usually curved designs of shovelheads. A spade shovel is used quite effectively for edging and can also help when transplanting big plants. Heavy-duty jobs are often tackled more efficiently by spades compared to standard shovels.

10. Folding Shovel

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Regular shovels are not the most portable tools available if you plan to work on some digging tasks on the go. The best solution, in this case, is to use a folding shovel. This type is built with portability in mind as it can be folded easily to save space. It’s reliable during camping trips or other traveling work that involves digging.

The standard folding shovel design allows the tool to bend in half to reduce its footprint. However, there are different types of folding or portable shovels out there. Some models have longer shafts that are collapsible in multiple parts. These can be practical to rapidly set up a shovel when needed. Considering how portability is the main appeal of a folding shovel, it’s not surprising to see that most models are crafted from lightweight materials that are less durable.

11. Tree-Planting Shovel

Tree Planting Shovel

Although planting trees can be done with various types of shovels, you can do this job more efficiently if you choose a specialized tool. The tree-planting shovel offers a narrow blade that works perfectly to handle all kinds of garden planting applications. It features a pointed tip but some models can show a curved one which may work better when you’re digging in a circular shape. If you want to prepare the hole for planting a tree on your property, it’s safe to say that a tree-planting shovel is recommended.

12. Roof Shovel

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Not all shovels are intended to be used on the ground. Some types are designed for cleaning the roof and removing old shingles that have to be replaced. The roof shovel is the best tool for this purpose because it’s ingeniously designed to work easily on different types of roofs. Any square-edged shovel may work for this job but the roof shovel lets you tackle any roof issues like a pro. It’s by far the most reliable choice to clean the roof effortlessly or in some cases removing the shingles if you want to replace them.

13. Transfer Shovel

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Similar to a flat shovel, the transfer type works like a charm when it comes to scooping dirt, gravel, and other materials. Thanks to its broad and flat blade construction, the transfer shovel does an excellent job in terms of transporting materials. This type of shovel is usually lightweight to let you work efficiently when you’re dealing with a lot of scooping and moving around.

Transfer shovels are equipped with D-handle styles which provide enough leverage when you need to lift some heavy materials. The added stability of this design can also help to maintain a steady workflow. The blade of a transfer shovel is quite sharp for reliable digging. Some types can include an additional blade to help with the scooping.

14. Post Hole Shovel

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With two shovel heads equipped with curving tips, this type of shovel is ideal for installing fence posts. The shovel design creates a circular shape when digging a hole while concentrating the force to saw through hard soil and obstacles like plant roots. A post hole shovel can be considered a very specialized tool but it’s not only useful to prepare your fencing. It might also come in handy for some planting jobs. The post hole digger tool cleanly removes a cylinder of soil in a simple quick movement.

15. Sifting Shovel

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Primarily used in construction work, the sifting shovel has some unique capabilities compared to other types of shovels. It can be used to separate various undesirable materials from sand or mound clay. You simply have to use the releasing hole and get rid of all the debris through quick sifting. This allows you to work with only the materials you want. Sifting shovels are available with different blade styles, typically round or square.


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