Did you know that shovels and spades are two different tools, rather than an interchangeable term? It’s something that not everyone is aware of, which is understandable given the striking similarities shared between spades and shovels.
There are some differences however, mostly notable with their appearance – although these are quite minimal at the same time, with the shape being the only key difference. However, there’s quite a few more, albeit less obvious, differences between a spade and a shovel that not everyone is aware of.
Let’s check them out, along with any similarities shared between the two:
Similarities Between Spade vs Shovel
Perhaps one of the most obvious similarities between a spade and a shovel is the materials used, so you will struggle to find many differences between the two in this regard.
Like most tools, they are available in a wide range of materials, namely metal, wood, and plastic. Spades and shovels can be made from any combination of these, although the most common tend to have wooden or plastic handles with a metal base.
For instance, many shovel or spade blades are made from steel as it is a natural strong and resistance metal that is also a bit lighter than other metals.
Other metals can and do get used of course, such as iron, which is on the heavier side so less commonly used, while aluminium is also a suitable material as it is lightweight, but it may struggle to hold has much weight as other metals.
The handle of a shove or spade is virtually identical, being another key similarity.
This is most typically a length of wood or plastic, long enough so that you can easily dig the tool into the ground as needed. The handle for this section is usually the same as well, either being a T or D shape.
Also, the top part of the spade or shovel will be the same too, being completely flat to allow your feet to press down. The overall shape is also quite similar (apart from one area, which we will cover soon!), with both items having a flat top for the foot to be placed, as well as a generally similar rectangular shape.
Both can be used to loosen soil by simply digging them into the ground with the necessary force to break up the earth, and either one is able to move around any soil that has been dug up.
You can also find similar sizes of spades and shovels, with different sized blades and handles available, all of which can be used for a variety of gardening tasks.
Different Uses Between Spade vs Shovel
The Main Difference
There is one main difference between a spade and a shovel is the shape of the blade, although this does mean that each tool is better suited for different tasks. This difference is quite clear to see as it is right at the base of the blade or scoop section of each tool.
The bottom of a space is completely flat, whereas the bottom area of a shovel features a pointed edge. These differences mean that a spade and shovel are better suited to different tasks around the garden, so be sure to use them accordingly!
As a spade has a flat edge, it is more suited for moving heavier loads of dirt and debris. This often means the handle will be on the larger side to provide more leverage and avoid having to bend over too much.
This flat edge also makes it an ideal tool for flattening any areas in the garden, such as freshly dug soil or any mulch that has been laid down.
Furthermore, a spade is much better suited for edging around the garden. It provides a clean and straight cut to any soil, making it a great way to achieve aesthetically pleasing edges around the lawn.
As previously mentioned, both spades and shovels are able to loosen soil for the purposes of digging, but a shovel is the tool to use if you want to complete any deeper digging. In fact, if you have a lot of digging to do, even if only shallow, a shovel is better designed for the job!
This is all down to the blade of a shovel, which features a slight curvature and pointed tip to help make digging easier. Also, the blades are often designed to be slightly larger than a spade, although you can find blades of virtually any size with either.
You may also get a shovel with blade that is designed for a specific task, such as a saw-tooth blades or extra-long blades, helping provide a more specific form of digging.
The pointed tip of a shovel is also quite different from the blade of a spade as it is usually created with a slight bend angled forwards, rather than the flat, straight design of a spade. This is to help dig down deeper and gather up as much soil as possible in the process.
Therefore, shovels are often better-suited for moving larger amounts of soil and dirt, as their blades are designed to more loose soil loads when compared to most standard spades.
While it is clear that either a shovel or spade is suitable for most garden tasks, you will certainly have much more efficient time gardening if you are able to use both. The differences may seem to be minimal, but when it comes to the hard work needed for gardening, every little difference can help make the job easier!
I am the editor of Lawn Mower Hut and produce most of the content on the site. I have over 25 years experience in the gardening industry and have worked in multiple roles throughout that time. My passions are gardening and golfing. If you have any questions please get in touch I will be happy to help.