The 5 best gardening shovels in 2021

While a shovel might not be your most thrilling purchase, at least one belongs in the tool shed of every gardener, whether they’re looking after a few potted plants or an extensive vegetable garden. The only question is which type of shovel or spade you need. Serious gardeners will likely have more than one.

That’s why we decided to do the research for you, and put together this list of the best shovels, spades, scoops, and trowels out there (read more on the different types of shovels, and which one may best fit your needs, here).

And while there is certainly no reason to break the budget on a shovel, it’s also true that you generally get what you pay for, and a quality garden tool should last many years with just a little care and maintenance.

Here are the best garden shovels and spades in 2021

The best overall

fiskars shovel

No need to throw your back out digging in tough soil. The Fiskars Long-Handle Round-Point Steel Digging Shovel cuts through even compacted dirt and clods without breaking a sweat.

Pros: Extremely durable steel construction, welded blade and handle, lifetime guarantee

Cons: A bit heavy, not good for digging small holes

Before you can plant that beautiful rosebush, shade tree, or blooming perennial, you need to dig a hole big enough to contain the roots. With the Fiskars Long-Handle Round-Point Steel Digging Shovel, you’ll get the job done with less effort and sweat than with many lesser garden shovels. If you only choose one shovel for your garden, we recommend that this be the one.

This beauty of a tool has a 14-gauge steel blade and an 18-gauge steel handle welded together so the shovel won’t snap even under rugged use. It has a large foot platform so you can really throw your weight into your digging, and a rubbery orange grip to keep your gloved hands in place without slipping or sliding. (You are wearing gardening gloves while doing heavy yard work, right?)

The Fiskars Long-Handle Round-Point Steel Digging Shovel is 57.5 inches long, making it suitable for most average-height gardeners. But this isn’t the tool you want to use to plant seeds or do detail work.

The best short garden shovel

bond shovel

If you prefer short-handled shovels, or are working in tight quarters in a flowerbed, you’ll appreciate the sturdy construction, D-shaped handle for easy gripping, and compact size of the Bond Mini D-Handle Shovel.

Pros: Strong steel construction, D-shaped handle is easy to grip, reasonable price, easy to fit in your car’s trunk

Cons: Short-handled shovels can be hard on your back

While a long-handled shovel provides more leverage and allows you to remain more upright while digging, in some situations, a short-handled shovel is easier to work with.

If you are digging in a tightly defined area, are digging a trench, or are very short, you might prefer a shovel with a short handle. And if so, you’ll find the Bond Mini D-Handle Shovel to be the best choice.

But the entire shovel is only 27.6 inches long, which means that this tool can be hard on your back during extended sessions of digging. Instead of using for long digging sessions, this might be most useful for small digging jobs in flowerbeds, or for lifting and moving dirt and other garden debris.

The best garden spade

fiskars shovel 2

When it’s time to edge, move mulch or compost, or break through extra-tough soil, the Fiskars D-Handle Garden Spade is up to the job.

Pros: Very sturdy construction, sharp edge cuts cleanly through sod, compacted soil, and roots

Cons: D-shaped handle encourages a grip that might not be comfortable for some gardeners

Like the Fiskars Long-Handle Shovel, the Fiskars Spade has a 14-gauge steel blade welded to an 18-gauge steel handle that won’t break or bend even during the heaviest of gardening jobs.

The edge of the blade is sharp, so you’ll slice right through sod, hard soil, compacted roots, and tough weeds without much of a struggle. And the rubberized D-shaped grip gives you a little bit of extra leverage when needed. This is a useful tool for moving garden debris of all types.

The Fiskars garden spade is 47 inches long and weighs just under five pounds, so it’s light enough for long sessions but heavy enough that it can throw its weight around.

The square head is great for edge work or sectioning our garden plots.

The best garden scoop

ames shovel

When it’s time to move soil, leaves, gravel, mulch, or even snow from point A to point B, the Ames D-Handle Aluminum Scoop won’t let you down.

Pros: Sized just right for the best leverage without straining your back, sturdy construction

Cons: Not meant for digging, the shovel blade is thin so it may not hold up to heavy loads

Gardening often calls for moving various materials from one spot to another: You dug a hole, now you need to move the dirt, you’re spreading compost over your vegetable bed, or you need to move fallen leaves to the trash or scrape snow off your driveway.

For any of these tasks, plus many others, the Ames D-Handle Aluminum Scoop is designed to provide the most leverage for the most efficient use of your muscle power.

The wooden handle of the tool is 24.5 inches long and topped with a molded D-shaped plastic handle that’s easy to grip. The aluminum blade is 15 inches wide and 11 inches deep, so it’s roomy enough to get the job done without being too heavy. And it won’t rust or spark when scraped against the ground.

The best garden trowel

Wilcox All Pro trowel

If you’re a container gardener, or just like to get down and dirty in your vegetable or flower garden, the Wilcox All Pro 14-Inch Trowel is a must-have.

A garden trowel is basically a small shovel with a long blade designed to be held in one hand for use in transplanting small plants and seedlings, planting individual bulbs, working in a container garden, removing individual weeds, or any other small gardening job that requires up-close, precise digging.

The Wilcox All Pro 14-Inch Trowel‘s sturdy stainless steel blade comes to a sharp point so you can cut through soil with precision, almost coring out your plants for easy transplanting. You won’t be scooping much soil at a time with the small blade, but it’s great for smaller tasks that require more finesse.

While the 14-inch size is probably the handiest (that’s 14 inches from tip of the blade to the bottom of the handle), the trowel is also available in 9-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch sizes.

Pros: Extremely durable construction, sharp blade easily penetrates even clay or hard soil

Cons: Not for moving large amounts of soil

FAQs

gardening shovel faq

What are the different types of shovels?

  • As a general rule, garden shovels have rounded, concave blades that come to a point. Shovels are mostly used to dig holes in dirt, but are also handy for moving soil, snow, or other loose materials.
  • Typically, garden spades have slightly concave blades with a flat edge, and while not so good for digging holes, they are useful for cutting through sod, edging your lawn, or marking a trench.
  • Garden scoops have wide, flat blades that rise up into small “walls” along the sides. This is the tool of choice for moving mulch, compost, dead leaves, hay, or other lightweight loose materials.
  • Trowels are small garden tools designed for one-handed use. They have a long, shovel-shaped blade and a short handle. Use your trowel for transplanting or digging in containers, making small holes in the garden for new plants, or removing individual weeds.

Check out our other great gardening guides

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The 12 best gardening gloves in 2021

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best long gardening gloves 2021 pruning elbow length

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Every home gardener needs a trusty pair of gardening gloves. By protecting your hands from soil, debris, thorns, and chemicals, they help prevent blisters, scrapes, and other injuries.

The type of gloves you’ll need depends on the gardening task. “Standard cotton garden gloves are a good option for planting annuals and potted plants,” said Karen Musgrave, marketing coordinator at Hicks Nurseries, the largest garden center on Long Island, New York. “Rose growers should choose leather gloves that are long, reaching your elbow to provide protection from thorns. For planting trees and shrubs, choose heavy-duty gloves with reinforced fingertips.”

Comfort, fit, and breathability are also important. The best gardening gloves keep your hands cool and dry and let your fingers move nimbly to pull weeds, plant flowers and shrubs, and even take the occasional phone or water break. “It’s important to have a snug fit so that it gives you the dexterity that you need and prevents minor injury when you want to get a little more aggressive in the soil when trimming,” said Vanessa Dawson, founder of plant care startup Arber.

After consulting gardening experts and conducting our own in-depth research, we found the best gardening gloves for various budgets and uses. You can read more about glove types and materials here.

Here are the best gardening gloves in 2021

The best overall

best gardening gloves 2021 pine tree tools bamboo

These gloves can be used for light- and medium-duty gardening tasks like mixing soil, planting flowers, raking, and pulling weeds. Nitrile, bamboo, and cotton are typical materials you’ll see since they’re lightweight, durable, and affordable.

Original Gloves (medium)Bamboo Gloves (medium)Women’s Relief Grip Gardening Gloves (medium)
Best gardening gloves on a budget

 best gardening gloves 2021 budget value pack

If you tend to go through a lot of gardening gloves, or just like having backups on hand, try these value glove packs.

Atlas Nitrile Gloves  (medium)Gardening Gloves (10-Pack) (medium)
The best heavy-duty

best gardening gloves 2021 heavy duty leather

Heavy-duty gloves are usually made from leather and may contain extra features like finger reinforcements or safety cuffs to give you the backup you need for difficult tasks like planting trees or carrying heavy tools and bags of soil.

Leather Work Gloves (medium)Gloves (medium)
The best long

best long gardening gloves 2021 pruning elbow length

Regular gardening gloves only protect you up to your wrists. If you’re pruning thorny rose bushes, you’ll need long arm covers that reach to your elbows and shield your forearms.

Leather Gardening Gloves with Forearm Protection (medium)Rose Pruning Gloves for Men and Women (medium)
The best for kids

best kids gardening gloves 2021 g&f

Before you get your young ones involved in the garden, make sure they have their own pair of gloves. Kids’ gloves don’t tend to be heavy-duty, so keep them out of the rose bushes.

JustForKids Kids Garden Gloves (medium)Westchester Jersey Gloves for Youth (medium)JustForKids Leather Work Gloves (medium)
Our methodology

For our first major update to this guide, we consulted Karen Musgrave from Hicks Nurseries and Vanessa Dawson from plant care brand Arber to learn more about how to shop for gardening gloves, features and materials to look out for, and brands they recommend. We combined that information with our own research to choose a few glove options per category. 

Next, we’ll be calling in samples of these contenders and evaluating them for comfort, fit, functionality, and durability. 

FAQs

What to know before you shop 

How you plan to spend time in your garden and backyard will help determine the style and material of your ideal gardening gloves. Cloth and nitrile gloves will do just fine for light gardening, but for anything involving heavy or thorny objects, you should use leather gloves. It’s likely you’ll have several pairs of gloves on hand, depending on your task of the moment. 

Fit is another important factor. Consult provided sizing charts to figure out which size to buy, and look for fitted wrist cuffs. If the glove is too small or large, your hand will feel uncomfortable and be more prone to injuries. Incorrect sizing can also allow soil or other debris to fall into the glove.


Pros and cons of nitrile, cotton, and leather

“Nitrile [a synthetic rubber] gloves are lighter, breathable and less expensive than leather gloves. Leather gloves provide the best protection and often last the longest. Cotton gloves are good for smaller projects and are often the least expensive,” said Musgrave.


How to wash and care for your gardening gloves 

“In general, keep them dry when not in use and out of the sun as that cracks the rubber. Use saddle soap on the leather ones,” said Dawson. Depending on the material, some gloves may be machine-washable. 

Keep in mind that most gloves won’t and aren’t meant to last a lifetime, especially with regular use. It’s good to keep a few different pairs on hand to rotate through. Luckily, most gardening gloves are affordable. 

Check out more gardening and backyard guides

best gardening gloves 2021 related gardening guides tools hoses mulch
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