A critical step in gardening is to dig the right hle. You don’t want to hinder your plant’s growth or suffocate the roots with holes that are too small or too shallow. In the same vein, many garden beds give you excellent results if you dig deeper holes. You’ll need the correct digging tools to help alleviate this labor-intensive chore and get the correct depth. You should dig a test hole first and see which type of soil you’re working with.
If the test hole is too challenging due to having a clay-based soil or a lot of rock, you’ll need more gardening tools than just a standard shovel or spade if you want to complete this project quickly. We’re going to outline 11 popular digging tools you should have in your garden shed below.
The more digging tools you have on-hand, the easier your projects will be when you get around to tackling them. Tools by Luke McGuff / CC BY-ND 2.0
1. Digging Knife
Many people don’t think that a knife is a viable digging tool, especially when you have a larger project underway. However, knives can be useful when it comes to digging purposes, and you’ll come to rely on having a quality digging knife around the yard. A digging knife can slice through hard soil and help you create holes. You’ll have an easier time with a digging knife than you would a more traditional trowel in certain instances.
A digging knife is flat enough to help you pry out embedded rocks that are buried in the soil and in your way too. You will eventually come across situations where you need to remove rocks from the garden or yard area so you can plant something. Having a digging knife ready will allow you to pop the rock out without a huge amount of effort. Once you move the rock, you’ll be ready to plant your flowers or vegetables without any huge delays.
Digging knives are useful digging tools for more than just general gardening purposes. You can make good use of this tool on hiking or camping trips. It’s very versatile, and anyone who enjoys the outdoors should keep it around. You will find situations or projects where you have to dig a lot, and you may have to cut something in the process.
Also, your digging knife should come with a nicely contoured handle that lets you keep a firm and steady grip on it. You don’t want to feel like you’re losing your grip when you’re using this knife as it has a sharp blade. The blade may also have a serrated edge with a depth scale included, and this makes it easy to see at a glance how deep you’re going. Many of them come with a carrying case with a belt loop, and this makes it easy to carry around.
2. Folding Shovel
In an emergency situation, having access to digging tools can be extremely convenient. This is the reason why many companies have started to offer very portable folding shovels. These shovels are very compact, and you can fit them in your car without taking up a lot of space. You can utilize this shovel to help you out if you get your car stuck somewhere when you’re out and about, or if you need it for any digging projects.
Shovels are very important for a host of reasons. If you live in an area with a lot of snow, having access to a folding shovel can help you. Your car may struggle to gain traction when you have too much snow and you can easily get stuck. Digging the snow away from your tires with the shovel can help you clear out a path and get home rather than staying stuck in the snow and cold.
It’s also very convenient to bring with you when you’re out in your yard. For example, you can use it to dig out a fire pit or dig out your flower bed. If you want to buy a shovel that folds down and doesn’t take up a huge amount of storage space, this is a solid choice. You can keep it in your garage, shed, or even in your trunk without running out of room.
Also, some folding shovels come with a host of various add-ons like a saw blade, compass, or a screwdriver. The more add-ons you get, the more projects you can use this digging tool on. It’s a great survivalist tool to keep on hand, both at home and on the go.
A spade is one of the most common gardening tools that you’ll use. This digging tool can help you create deeper holes for your iris bulbs or bulb-based plants. They allow you to dig smaller but deeper holes quickly and easily. Along with this usage, it works well to help with other gardening activities, so you’ll want to have one or a few of these tools around your space.
Having a high-quality spade will make your life a little simpler as you plant and maintain your garden. You’ll need to be able to dig out specific spots, and the normal shovel might not be the best digging tool for the job because they tend to be larger. A spade that has a long handle that allows you to work while you stand up, and this reduces the strain on your back. You can still dig smaller holes, but you won’t have to get on your hands and knees to do so.
Some people like to use smaller hand spades or shovels for these gardening tasks. It’s all going to come down to your personal preferences. A lot of the time, people don’t want to get down on the ground because they have issues getting back up. If this is you, a spade is an excellent thing to have.
4. Gardening Fork
A gardening fork works to help you aerate the soil in your yard and garden. A tool like this is going to come in handy if you live in an area that has very hard or rocky soil. You need to be able to use a digging tool to break it up and find ways to make it more nutrient-rich. Turning your soil over with this tool will help you transform your soil into something that is more nurturing for your plants.
You’ll also want to use a gardening fork on your normal garden a few times a season. Aerating the soil is something that you don’t want to skip. When you want a bountiful garden or lush lawn, your plants and grass need access to nutrients. Quality soil is a necessary component to help plants thrive, and your gardening fork will allow you to condition your soil relatively easily.
Using this tool is very simple and straightforward, and all you have to do is rake it across the top layer of soil. The tines allow you to dig small holes and turn the soil over. Some gardening forks are smaller and you use them sitting down or when you’re on your knees. You can also get this digging tool in a longer version that you can use while you stand up and move around.
A gardening fork with a longer handle is a great solution if you have a larger garden or yard area you want to aerate. It allows you to stay in a comfortable position while you work, and the tool itself is very sturdy and durable. Gripping it should feel comfortable in your hands, and you should be able to use it for hours at a time without any issues.
If you’ve had a garden for any length of time, you’ve most likely seen or used a hoe before. A hoe is a very important multi-purpose digging tool that you want to have. It allows you to perform a lot of simple tasks in your garden, and trying to maintain the area without one won’t be as simple. Your hoe can help you remove weeds, till the garden, harvest crops, and more.
For the best results possible, you want to buy a hoe that is very high-quality. The hoe should be long enough to reach deeper into your garden area without you having to go inside of it. It’s also helpful when it’s very durable because this allows you to apply pressure to the soil without anything breaking.
This digging tool is usually tough enough to handle regular garden tasks while being more lightweight. It should be very easy to grip and hold because this will help you stay comfortable for long use sessions. The handle should be fiberglass, metal, or wood, and it should come with a very balanced feel to it.
This digging tool is very similar to a pickax, and it’s very common to accidentally misake the two tools. The shape of this tool is virtually the same thing that you would envision when you think about a normal pickaxe. It has both an ax blade and a pick or an adze. Mattocks that come with a pick are called pick mattocks, and the options that have an adze on it are cutter mattocks.
You’ll use this tool for cutting or digging things around the yard. It’s a common agricultural tool that is very useful in certain situations. If you need to dig or cut away weeks, the mattock is going to be a very handy tool to have on-hand. You can use it to dig into the dirt to plant seeds, so it’s very versatile.
People who live in areas that have hard soil like having this digging tool around to make projects easier. They can be cumbersome to use though, and they require a decent amount of energy to swing. This isn’t a tool that most people have in their garden sheds, but it could be useful, depending on your soil. You want to have access to the best digging tools for the project, and this could be it in some instances.
You should decide on a type of mattock before you shop because this can help you narrow your choices down right out of the gate. Ideally, a fiberglass handle is a nice feature because it feels natural and it’s easy to hold. It also absorbs the shock, and this makes it less draining to swing.
7. Planting Auger
A planting auger is a more interesting digging tool to have in your arsenal. It’s usually not the first thing that comes to your mind when you talk about garden tools, but it’s one that you want access to. When you want to plant something deeper into the ground like a tree, a planting auger can make the process very quick and smooth. The auger attaches to a drill, and you can drill down into the ground and open the area up.
This digging tool is a great size for planting a range of items. You can use this planting auger when you’re in an upright position and it can go deep into the soil. The auger is also very durable, and it can last you for a long time if you get one made out of steel. Planting your full-sun annuals and bulbs is a lot easier with this tool.
However, you will need a standard drill to make use of this digging tool. It may not be a 100% necessary tool to have, but it’s useful to invest in one. Digging into your soil with a drill can be a lot quicker than using a hand shovel, and this will help your projects faster. If you have a large amount of bulbs to plant, this tool can make your project go much quicker.
8. Post Hole Digger
A post hole digger can be essential if you put up a wooden or chain link fence. It can work to make your life a whole lot easier throughout a fence-building process. It’s possible to complete this task with other digging tools, but a post hole digger is specifically designed for this project. You can dig post holes in varying depths with this tool, depending on the soil in the area.
Very hard soil can still be tough to use this tool with, but it’s easier when you have this tool on hand. People use this digging tool for a range of projects. Whether you’re trying to put up a basketball hoop, put in a new mailbox, or putting up a fence, this tool is very useful. You want to get a higher-quality tool because this is very hard work that will put a lot of strain on it, especially in hard soil. Most come with two-piece blades that allow you to move dirt quickly, and a fiberglass handle will keep it easy to grip.
9. Power Tillers
As the name suggests, power tillers are a versatile digging tool to help you till up your garden area. Unless you’re doing a no-till garden, you want this tool on hand. Instead of digging deep into the dirt, they dig into the surface and turn the dirt over to help aerate it. This is a powered version of an aerating or gardening fork that we talked about earlier. If you want to till up your garden area quickly with minimal effort, buying this product is going to make your project move along.
There are many power tillers available on the current market that you can buy, and you’ll find both gas-powered and electric models available. The gas-powered ones are usually more powerful, but they’re very loud to run. They also cause emissions and pollution when they run, and many people want to avoid this.
Electric power tillers are a great option for most gardeners. A corded model will work well for bigger gardens. It can aerate your garden patch very quickly and it should feel easy to operate. Many come with six steel tines that can turn over the soil at a high rate of speed, and this cuts your tilling time.
You can maneuver this digging too relatively easily. The rear wheels allow you to move it around wherever you need it to go. Tilling your garden will be a very simple task when you have this tool like this. It can be more expensive than purchasing a gardening fork, so you have to consider this moving forward.
The common shovel is one of the most important garden digging tools you can have to help start and maintain your flower beds or garden. You can use them to dig several areas, and it works well for construction projects around the yard too. You’ll get very familiar with this tool during the spring and summer seasons.
There are several types of shovels available on the current market, and a traditional shovel will work best to dig in the dirt. Most shovels in this category come with a pointed blade that makes it easy to bite into the ground. You can step on the blde to press the shovel into the early and dig much deeper. You should know how to use this tool without a long explanation.
The important thing that you have to keep in mind when you pick out a shovel is that it needs to be sturdy. You want to consider which projects you’re going to use this digging tool for to decide if your shovel is up to the task. You’re going to have to keep in mind what you’re planning on lifting with your shovel and how much weight it can carry without issues. Most common shovels will be perfectly fine for any digging projects around the house.
You should also buy a shovel that is the correct size for you to use it comfortably. Some shovels are a little shorter or longer than others. Depending on your height, this can be a bad or good thing. You want to use the shovel as easily as you can, so making sure you have a great fit is essential with this digging tool.
The final digging tool on the list is a trowel, and this is an important tool that you want to have in your garden shed. You may hear it called a hand spade or a hand shovel, and it’s important to understand how this tool is going to be useful around the yard. When you want to dig small holes for planting in the garden, this is usually the easiest tool to grab and use to accomplish this task.
To be able to use this trowel properly, you’ll want to get down on the ground. A lot of gardeners use this trowel while they’re on their knees and work to finish their tasks. This can be challenging for the elderly or for people with mobility issues, so you have to take this into consideration when you shop.
You can use this trowel to get right up close to your soil. If you’re trying to dig around other plants and you need to be careful so you don’t break something, a trowel is going to be invaluable. You’ll be able to complete this task without damaging or killing any of your other plants at the same time. It works as a great companion tool for general garden maintenance and planting new plants like carrots.
Typically, these trowels have a wooden handle with a steel blade attached. Many of the trowels feature an oak handle. It usually feels very natural to use with garden gloves or bare-handed. The steel blade is very durable, and it’s going to dig into your soil to allow you to create garden or flower beds.
We’ve outlined 11 great digging tools for your garden, and you can easily find a use for any and all of them on the list. There are more digging tools available, but the ones on the list are the most popular. They work well for beginner and veteran gardeners, and you can store them neatly inside your garden bench or shed until you need them to help you complete small and large projects.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.