Gardens Illustrated picks out garden furniture, tools and lifestyle items that we think are the best and most exciting, based on independent research and careful consideration. On some occasions we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products. But this doesn’t affect what we choose to highlight and we will never let it bias our coverage.
Long Narrow Spade,

Shovels and garden spades: nine of the best

A sturdy shovel can make all the difference when working in the garden. Here's our round up of the best garden spades and shovels

A good garden spade could be a gardener’s friend for life. That’s why we think it’s worth thinking very carefully about which one you invest in and have chosen a range of shovels below, from spades that are perfect for regular and expert use, to shovels that are study and reliable, but won’t be used all year round on massive plots.

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More than anything, you want a shovel or garden spade that will be hard wearing and weather resistant and won’t let you down when you come to dig it out of the toolshed in times of need. There are also different types of shovel and spade heads to think carefully about: do you need a narrow, directed shovel head, or are you happy with the classic square design that can be used for several purposes?

A shovel has a myriad of uses, but its primary role is that of digging. You should look for a sharp edge and a long handle – so your shovel doesn’t break your back when you’re turning the soil and you can get a good angle to turn up turf. Peruse through our ist of the best shovels below and don’t miss our hub page for more suggestions of which garden tools to invest in.

If you’re looking for a spade or shovel, chances are you’ll also need a hand trowel. Here is our pick of the best hand trowels. 

The best shovels and garden spades

1

Bronze Spade

Bronze Spade from Great Dixter

It should be clear to anyone who frequents this site that the Great Dixter series of garden tools are some of the best in the business. And this bronze spade or shovel is no exception. The bronze spade itself is made in Austria and the metal is an alloy made from copper and a bit of tin to ensure hardiness.

Not only is this shovel very attractive, the wood is made from steam-bent ash and beech meaning it’s a very lightweight spade. The overall dimensions are: length 114 cm, blade 24 cm long.

Cost: £130

Buy from the Great Dixter Shop

2

True Temper Drain Shovel

True Temper Drain Spade

This spade comes complete with a carbon steel blade, making it lightweight and very hardy. We’d recommend this for both the garden and if you use it in your business. The blade is long, enabling your shovel to dig much deeper and the rubber handle makes it easy on the hands too.

The narrow blade on this shovel makes it ideal for getting out stubborn bits of root or even digging out fence holes or tree stumps.

Its strength is the main reason it’s on this list: there’s a double rivet head to handle construction and the head has been painted too, to make sure the shovel has added durability.

Cost:  £29 

Buy from B&Q 

3

Sneeboer Long Narrow Shovel

Long Narrow Spade,

Sneeboer are one of the classic manufacturers of garden tools and this long narrow shovel is perfect for tight spaces. Digging in a patch that needs a bit of care? This garden spade will be your friend. It is also great for particularly compact or busy borders and vegetable patches.

The design features two wide footplates – vital for using your feet to push the blade down into the soil and the blade itself measures 28.5cm.

This stainless steel shovel has been hand forged the Sneeboer way in Holland and measures 116cm overall. It has a lovely ash handle and has been carefully weighted.

This shovel also comes with a ten year guarantee for the steelwork and a one year guarantee on the wooden handle.

Cost £111.95

Buy from Harrod Horticultural

4

Gardener’s Mate Digging Spade

Gardener’s Mate Digging Spade

One of the lower priced spaces, this option is nonetheless a reliable one and comes with a handy soft rubber handle for extra grip. Made from carbon coated steel, it is protected against rust and the shaft is made from ash wood.

Its shovel head size means it can be used for your usual garden tasks, in large soil areas. There’s also a two year guarantee on the shovel, which is a nice bonus.

We like its simple, traditional design, with added ergonomic bonuses from the handle.

Cost £14.99

Buy from Marshalls Garden Centre

5

Kent & Stowe Stainless Steel Digging Shovel

Kent & Stowe Stainless Steel Digging Spade

Imagine a spade and we guarantee you’ll be thinking of this classic design from Kent and Stowe. Its wide shovel head is ideal for large soil areas and can be used for digging, soil turning and for improving drainage. The ash handle has smoothed rivets for maximum comfort and there’s a large tread too.

The spade head has been hand crafted and designed in the UK and it has a guarantee of 15 years.

With a full length of 111cm and a blade thickness of 3mm, this is the perfect shovel for all sorts of gardening needs.

Cost: £29.99

Buy from Amazon

 

6

Bulldog ‘Powerbreaker’ Insulated Digging Spade

Bulldog ‘Powerbreaker’ Insulated Digging Spade

An extra-specially hard-wearing option for the dedicated gardener, the ‘powerbreaker’ spade or shovel is part of a range of digging tools which will be helpful to a professional or a home gardener.

The spade itself has been tested to 10,000 volts and the handle is one entire piece of fibreglass. The blades are quite carefully designed too, with rounded corners which mean if you’re digging near pipes and cables, you’ll reduce the possibility of damage dramatically.

It’s 290mm long and 125 mm wide and is tempered for strength and rigidity.

Cost: £54,

Buy from Rollins

7

Fiskars Digging Head Digging Shovel

Fiskars Digging Head Digging Spade

Looking for a spade or shovel that just won’t take you a lot of effort to lug around the garden? This may be the option for you. It’s also very handy for hard and rocky soil, with a head design that’s welded to the shaft. That means it’s as light as can be, without compromising on stiffness or durability.

At 1200mm in length, it’s a long option and the handle has a comfy strong grip too. Excellent if you wan to avoid extra pressure and strain on your back.

Cost: £36.99

Buy from B&Q

 

8

Original Root Assassin Shovel & Saw

Original Root Assassin Shovel & Saw

A shovel with several handy uses. Both shovel and saw, the name ‘root assassin’ tells you exactly what this garden spade is best at. It is the perfect tree and root saw, and is specifically designed for cutting out roots and bushes and transplanting and trimming trees. All sorts of handy gardening activities!

The blade has serrated edges which easily cuts through roots and the carbon steel has been covered with silver powder coat too. The handle is rubber and is very comfortable and what’s more the whole thing only weighs four pounds.

We’d recommend this as a shovel or spade for a targeted purpose. It is 48 inches in length.

Cost: £64.95 

Buy from Harrod Horticultural

9

Golden Shovel

Golden Spade

Be as eye catching as you can be with the help of this golden shovel created from experts in garden tool design, Niwaki. It is a very robust option, weighing in at 1.8kg and has a lightweight steel pipe shaft. The blade has a strong, cut-through angle which will help get to the specific areas you need to with this garden spade. It’s the perfect spade for digging, planting and, if you need it, cement mixing too.

Cost: £34 

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Buy from the Conran Shop