Thursday, January 9, 2014

Need a new shovel?

Michele K. Koskinen

My tools for gardening are in need of sharpening and some need to be replaced. The more involved I get with real gardening the more I appreciate the right tool for the job. Gardening is work and it becomes more difficult without the right tools. One such tool is the "shovel". My shovel is one purchased at a yard sale and needs to be replaced. The handle is loose and the point no longer a point. So what should we look for when buying a shovel.

We tend to use the shovel as a term that covers a variety of digging instruments. Long and short handled, round, square, long and round, folding, you name it it, is a shovel. So what is that tool used to dig called? 

Let's examine the two most popular. A spade and a shovel. 

  • A shovel has a  rounded tip perfect for digging, lifting, throwing and digging holes.
  • A spade is used for edging, slicing and preparing beds to an even depth.
Photo from

Parts of a spade for examination

Selection of the spade or tool should be determined by the size of your body, and the task. The ergonomics of the shovel helps you dig safely and efficiently. We all have dug and come away the next day sore and wondering what the heck. 
That can be a sign we have the wrong tool or have used the tool incorrectly.

When choosing your spade or shovel there are a few things to think about.

  • Your body size.
  • Your body strength
  • The task at hand
  • How the shovel is made

The head size should be based on your strength. The size of the head will be one of 4 sizes and the weight of the head  again will be determined by your strength. Obviously a larger head gets the job done quicker but may not be too good for your body. The angle of the blade which determines the "lift" needed to dig efficiently.

The handle should come to the middle of your chest when the blade is in the soil. A typical handle length is 48" but some are longer. This again is determined by the length of your arms and height.

Take time to investigate the correct tool for you. It will save you aches and pains and become a partner in your gardening endeavors. Before buying that shovel do some research. The quality of the tool should be such that it will be a life long tool if cared for properly. Many articles have been written on the favorite tools of gardeners. The important thing is again how is it made. We all have tools that were choosen for price not because we looked at them as an investment. Buy the best you can afford and the right one for you to use for many years.

This video shows specifics on how to dig and some points on selecting a spade. A great instructional "tool" for you if contemplating purchasing a new "shovel". It is also a reminder as to how to properly use a digging tool without injuring your back and wrist.

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