The shovel is the main tool in your garden shed. All shovels make holes in the dirt, but there are several things that should be considered before you purchase one. Although there are specialty varieties available, you will want to start with a basic, well-made garden shovel. As you gain gardening experience, you may find that you have a need for a trenching spade, for example, but until you know for sure that it is something you’ll use frequently, you should save your money.
A good, basic shovel will have a metal, round-pointed head attached to a handle. The straight, wooden handle shovel has been around for decades, and is still the most popular choice today.
A “D” handle shovel is traditionally shorter in length than the straight handled types. The shorter handle gives you more leverage as you lift your load. While this makes it ideal for some things, such as lifting loosened soil out of a trench, it is harder on your back for most digging tasks because it forces you to bend over as you dig.
Ergonomic handles are shaped to fit your hands and enable you to dig in a way that is less painful to your back, shoulders and arms. Another feature that is available on some ergonomic shovels is a height adjustment, making it a truly customizable tool.
The weight of a shovel can also be a factor in your decision. If it is too heavy for you to use for long periods of time, it will be a waste of money. If it is too lightweight, the head can bend and the handle can even break under pressure. If you are a weekend gardener, you probably won’t be using a garden shovel as many hours as a professional landscaper, so you should be more concerned with durability than weight.
Shovel handles now come in a variety of materials, but the traditional wood version is still the most popular. Ash is commonly used because of its strength and durability. A newer handle material is fiberglass. It is more durable than wood, but it also wears over time and can break under extreme pressure.
Shovel blades are typically made from tempered steel. They are usually sharpened on the bottom edge to help slice into the dirt. A well-designed shovel will feature a footrest formed into the top edge of the blade so you can use your foot to help push the shovel deeper into the dirt.
Before you head to the store, you should spend a little time researching the different types of shovels and the price ranges that are available, but nothing that you read can take the place of actually holding the shovel in your hand. If it is not comfortable, you probably won’t use it as much and it will be a waste of money. Today, there are so many options of shovels available that you should be able to find one that not only fits your hands, but also fits your budget.