Every green thumb should have at least one spade in their shed to help maintain their garden's glory. Whether you're after a shovel for digging at the allotment, or a stainless steel border spade, this article is here to help you decide.
We've ranked the 10 best spades in the UK on Amazon, Argos and more, with tips on how to choose border, digging, and planting spades - featuring recommended products from professional brands including Burgon & Ball and Fiskars!
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Finding a spade that'll serve you well comes down to what you're going to use it for. The most common spade type has got to be the digging spade, although there are a couple of other popular types to consider.
Digging and border spades are quite similar in design. The main difference is size, as digging spades have larger blades and longer shafts. This makes them better suited to turning over large patches of dirt. Border spades are more suited to tighter spaces between plants and are often the preferred choice for smaller-framed gardeners.
Planting spades tend to be much shorter than digging and border spades. Their short shafts and small blades are easy to get along with, making them perfect for planting several bulbs in one defined row.
Once you've dug up excess garden debris and soil, use a wheelbarrow to take it to the compost heap
A spade's blade needs to be strong and crafted in such a way that it makes light work of your garden's soil. This is why pretty much every spade today features a steel blade. Stainless and powder-coated steels are popular in digging spades as they're more weighty when compared to carbon steel.
This extra weight will guide your spade further through the earth, helping you to turn your garden into the place it was always meant to be. Stainless steel is naturally anti-corrosive while powder-coating protects from rust, making for a tool that will hold up for many years to come.
While many gardeners prefer the weight that stainless and regular steel offers, others enjoy the lighter weight of carbon steel. Despite this, it is also hard-wearing by design and considered to be a durable choice for blades.
Many spades come with a complete shaft and handle that's made from the same material, although this does vary from brand to brand. Spade shafts are primarily made of plastic, fibreglass, wood or metal.
Plastic and fibreglass shafts are lightweight in nature, suiting gardeners who might struggle with fully-fledged metal and wood spades. The only problem with these two materials is they are more susceptible to breakage – especially when put under a lot of stress.
Wood will always be an incredibly popular material for spade shafts as it looks the part while offering shock-absorbing properties – perfect for long bouts with stubborn ground. While strong, metal is much less popular as it can be too hot to handle on scorching summer days and is anything but shock-absorbing.
A pointed blade is a great tool for cutting through grass, stony ground and the inevitable root or two. Find them on spades with long shafts that have a clear intention of doing your toughest work in some of your least desirable ground.
You'll see them featured on small planting spades too. Here, the point is purposed to help with 'quick-succession planting', giving you a more refined hole each and every time. Although they might not be your everyday digging tool, keeping a pointed-blade spade in your shed's artillery is a smart idea by any gardener's standards.
Dealing with particularly tough soil? Use a garden fork to help break it up!
A cutting edge is featured on blades to give the spade a little extra pep to cut through roots, clay and particularly tough soil. Through their serrated, saw-like teeth, cutting edges are the go-to for anyone who is worried about getting through the ground by the big old tree behind the house.
Depending on what you're dealing with, you could also consider spades with not one, but two cutting edges. These are designed solely to be root-cutting weapons. This dedication to cutting does, however, make them less than ideal for transferring soil, as fine soils will slip through the serrated cracks.
Top Tip: Compost your garden waste to transform it into a valuable resource for growing plants and vegetables!
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Burgon & Ball
Robust Garden Spade With a Lifetime Guarantee
Multi-Digger Garden Spade
Cutting Edge and Dual Grip Handle for Digging in Tough Ground
Burgon & Ball
Stainless Steel Perennial Spade｜GTB/SPSRHS
Premium Tempered Stainless Steel Made in Sheffield
Spear & Jackson
Traditional Planting Spade｜4650PS
Weatherproof Planting Spade With Pointed Blade
Kent and Stowe
Stainless Steel Digging Spade
Reinforced Digging Spade Made From Stainless Steel and Ash
Gardener's Pointed Spade｜1003455
Extra Long Spade With Pointed Blade for Tough and Stony Turf
Garden Spade for Planting｜8929-20
Lightweight Planting Shovel With Extendable Handle
Root Slayer Shovel
Serrated Edges and Double Pointed Tip for Cutting Through Roots
Curved Border Spade for Flower Beds and More
Carbon Steel Digging Spade
Entry-Level Shovel for Gardening on a Budget
Through their unwavering dedication to quality through construction, we just couldn't look past Burgon & Ball for the number one spot. Endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society, their digging spade features astainless steel blade with a comfort tread and an FSC-approved ash wood shaft and handle.
While this seems like a standard pairing of materials for premium spades, it's in the quality of craftsmanship where Burgon & Ball edge out the rest. The tool is not just a pleasure to use but it comes with a lifetime guarantee, which is another nod to this trusted company's undying quest to be the best.
Roamwild's multi-digger garden spade is a contemporary spin on what this piece of garden equipment has come to represent. The shaft and handle are made of fibreglass, with the handle featuring the brand's 'AIRlight' design in order to make it as lightweight as possible.
With a healthy amount of grip on not just the handle but the shaft as well, you'll feel in control of this spade even in the wet. The blade has a defined cutting edge to make light work of any root that catches you off-guard. A feature-filled, modern spade of which the high price reflects.
Burgon & Ball is the oldest standing British manufacturer of garden tools and accessories. In fact, they've been making their premium tool range in the same factory in Sheffield since 1873, an enduring legacy that ensures they are at the top of the tool game.
Their planting spade's stainless steel blade has been strengthened through a tempering process and set to an ash wood shaft and handle. At 53 cm, this is a very workable and premium spade to see you through plenty of planting seasons.
We know that Gardena's spade at number 7 has got you sorted when your plants are in their infancy, but what about the established ones? Well, you're in luck, as this traditional planting spade is sized well at 91 cm in length.
Features to highlight include the height markings in inches on the blade in addition to the small-yet-refined cutting edge on the other side. The hardwood shaft and handle have also been weatherproofed, making it ready to go to work come rain, hail or shine.
Entering the more premium side of the garden tool world, this digging spade by British company Kent and Stowe looks incredibly good, comes highly rated and is made of all the right materials.
The blade is constructed of stainless steel with a silver finish that's sure to turn a few heads down at the allotment. The steel runs halfway up the shaft for strength where it is met with ash hardwood. This gives it a nice contrast in tone and rounds out, for the price, a desirable digging companion for larger areas.
Going in the other direction, Fiskars's pointed spade is the longest of our picks at 117 cm. This extra length will be of the most benefit to taller gardeners, as it will help them work through the tougher parts of their garden with crouching over too much.
In addition, the pointed alloy steel blade is purposed to make your life easier when up against ground that is hard and stacked with stone. We rate this as a decent mid-range spade that's popular with those who enjoy good gardening gear for a competitive price.
When there's some planting or transplanting that needs seeing to in your garden, you're going to want a spade that is small, easy to handle and comfortable to grip. This planting trowel by Gardena ticks all those boxes and then some.
Its unique design allows you to extend it to a total length of 41 cm. This will help to minimise backache, keeping you at a comfortable height while still finishing the job at hand. While it won't be the only spade you need to buy, it's certainly a cheerful one to add to the collection.
For the folk who are putting off going into battle with the root-infested area way down the back of the garden, you need not worry anymore as the Root Slayer is here for you. A modern spade through and through, its circular ergonomic handle has four times the gripping surface of a regular spade.
As for the blade, it's made of heavy-gauge steel with two cutting edges and an inverted 'V' cutting tip. This spade will take a lot of the effort out of cutting through roots and save you time and energy in the process. Its niche design isn't for everyday use, but it's the best of its kind if toughness is what you need.
This border spade from Amtech is another great first purchase for gardeners who want something easy to get along with that is both short in shaft and light in weight. At just 93 cm long, it is small for a full-sized tool. It also weighs just 1.5 kg.
The low weight can also be put down to the plastic shaft and handle, which, once again, aren't the hardiest but do mean the spade is fairly cheap. For anyone who is worried about handling a full-sized spade for long periods of the day, this will keep you engaged and be kind to your arms when there's some digging to be done.
If you're looking to keep costs down but still want a spade that comes highly rated and ready to dig, this offering by Challenger is a great one to consider. Good for older gardeners too, the blade is constructed of carbon steel which gives it a lightweight sensibility.
The shaft is made of a hardwearing polypropylene plastic which, although strong for plastic, will still have its limitations when compared to other materials. All in, this is a good entry-level spade for anyone who doesn't desire to spend any more than they have to.
Written and researched by: Connor Macanally
No. 1: Burgon & Ball｜Digging Spade｜GTB/SSDRHS
No. 2: Roamwild｜Multi-Digger Garden Spade
No. 3: Burgon & Ball｜Stainless Steel Perennial Spade｜GTB/SPSRHS
No. 4: Spear & Jackson｜Traditional Planting Spade｜4650PS
No. 5: Kent and Stowe｜Stainless Steel Digging Spade
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