Our Top 10 Garden Digging Tools for Working the Soil

There are a lot of garden digging tools out there – and if you’re new to gardening, there are probably more of them than you expected. While it’s tempting to depend on a single all-purpose scoop shovel, it simply isn’t an efficient tool for many gardening jobs. From garden fork to trenching shovel, each digging tool has a purpose.

Which garden digging tool is right for you depends on what and how you need to dig.

Let’s take a closer look at ten amazing digging tools that can help you get through working the soil quickly.

1. Hoe

A garden hoe is a classic multipurpose gardening tool. It’s useful for digging, tilling the garden, and removing weeds. A garden hoe should be long enough so that you can reach deep into your garden bed without having to step into it. It should be durable, but lightweight enough to handle for long periods. A good garden hoe is essential if you need to plant or maintain a vegetable garden.

Spear & Jackson have several great gardening hoes to choose from, including this traditional Dutch hoe and this swoe-style angled hoe.

2. Shovel

Obviously, we couldn’t talk about digging tools without mentioning the most obvious one: the digging shovel. Shovels are a multi-purpose digging tool. You can use them to dig large holes, move moderate amounts of earth, or in construction. A shovel should be durable enough to suit its intended purpose. If you’re planning to move a large amount of dirt, then you need a heavier-duty shovel than if you’re only planning to dig a hole for a small shrub.

Looking for a shovel for everyday gardening? This Steel Round Shovel from Spear & Jackson is a great choice.

3. Spade

A spade is a pretty common garden tool uses for digging small, relatively deep holes. While a shovel has a scooped design, a garden spade is long and flat, often with a sharp point. Because of their shapes, these digging tools have very different jobs. As we mentioned, you can use a shovel to move large amounts of earth. On the other hand, you use a spade for digging smaller, deeper holes, as well as cutting sod, shaping the outlines of vegetable gardens and flower beds, or removing plants at the root when it’s time to transplant them to another part of the garden.

In the market for a great gardening spade? Check out this traditional stainless steel border spade from Spear & Jackson.

4. Trowel

A garden trowel is essentially a miniature shovel or spade. It is primarily used for digging small holes, though you’ll likely find a lot of uses for this gardening tool. To use a trowel, you have to get down on the ground so you’re close to where you want to dig. A seasoned gardener uses their trowel to dig carefully around plants and flowers without disturbing them. Plus, trowels are so small and lightweight, you can easily carry them with you all around the garden.

For a hand trowel with a bit of style, you can’t go wrong with the GARDENA Classic Hand Trowel.

5. Planting Auger

A planting auger might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about digging, but it’s one of the most effective digging tools around. It’s essentially a giant drill bit that digs into the ground to turn over the dirt or create a large, deep hole for planting. To use a planting auger, you need a standard drill. While this isn’t something everyone needs in their tool shed, if you plant a lot of bulbs every year, you’ll find it indispensable.

For a bit of variety, we recommend this pair of augers from Uratot.

6. Digging Knife

This gardening tool is another unique option that you might not have thought of before, but it’s a very versatile tool that you’re sure to get a lot of use out of. A digging knife is ideal for getting into hard, tough soil or removing large rocks stuck in the dirt. You can also use it for edging, to cut sod or to shape your garden bed.

If you need one of these tools, take a look at this soil knife from Zenport.

7. Gardening Fork

If you’re looking for a digging tool to help you break up rocky or firm soil or aerate the top layers, you need a gardening fork. A gardening fork, or digging fork, can help you prepare the soil for planting by loosening it. Loosened soil can better take up fertilizer and air.

A gardening fork is really easy to use. It’s shaped like a fork, with several large tines that are ideal for cutting into hard dirt. It’s usually used with a sturdy pair of gardening gloves so you can alternate between cutting into the dirt and hand-pulling stubborn weeds.

There are several types of gardening forks available. Some have short handles and are used while sitting on the ground. Others have longer handles that can be used while standing.

A great all-purpose gardening fork is this stainless steel option from Burgon & Ball. If you prefer one with a long handle, check out this gardening fork from Spear & Jackson.

8. Mattock

A mattock is quite similar to a pickaxe, and its used to dig or cut away stubborn weeds or hard, compacted soil. They’re a pretty heavy tool and not something that most people have in their arsenal. But, if you’re looking for a digging tool to make short work of stubborn, dense weeds or roots, you can’t go wrong with a mattock.

If you’re in the market for a mattock, the forged adze pick weeding mattock from Fitool is a great choice.

9. Post Hole Digger

As you can tell from the name, this digging tool has a very specific job. Post hole diggers consist of two large blades that form a sort of long cylinder. Using the long handles, you drive the blades into the ground to create a hole for a post. If you’re installing new fence posts, a basketball hoop, or a mailbox, this is a perfect digging tool for the job.

Looking for a post hole digger? Take a look at this heavy-duty stainless steel option from Neilsen.

10. Power Tiller

If you have a big job to do, a power tiller is the way to go. This digging machine cuts into the surface of your garden soil, turning it over to improve aeration and make it easier to add fertilizer to the ground before planting. It basically does the same thing as a gardening fork, only on a much larger and more powerful scale.

Admittedly, not everyone needs a power tiller. But, if you have a lot of land to cover, the Greenworks battery-powered tiller may be for you.

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