Quicklist: Digging Tools
- Gardening Fork
- Post Hole Digger
- Planting Auger
- Digging Knife
- Folding Shovel
- Fence Post Auger
- Electric Battery-Powered Tiller
- Electric Shovel
- Power Tillers
- Archeological Dental Pick
- Digging Bar
- Grafting Tool
- Grub Hoe
- Hand breaker
- Trenching Spade
What are Digging Tools?
For millennia, digging sticks were the essential agricultural tool used by countless cultures for planting crops, gathering edible roots and foraging. All-purpose wooden digging sticks have been found in Neanderthal archeological sites.
The Gunditjmara people, and other Indigenous Australian cultures, used various hardwoods, from trees such as the Casuarina, to make digging sticks. The Maori of New Zealand had digging sticks, or grubbers (“timo”), with a footrest on one end and a flat iron blade on the other.
Digging the right hole is a critical step in gardening. You don’t want to suffocate the roots or hinder the plant’s growth with holes that are too small or shallow.
Dig a test hole first to see what kind of soil you’re dealing with. If the test hole proves to be challenging, you’ll need more than just a spade or a shovel to complete the job.
Different Types of Digging Tools
A spade is one of the most typical gardening tools that you will use to dig soil. The spade shown here is perfect for digging small, deep holes when planting bulbs. A spade like this is definitely going to be useful for many other gardening activities, as well.
2. Gardening Fork
A gardening fork is used to aerate the soil, very handy when the soil is rocky or hard. You need to be able to bust upthe soil and find ways to enrich it. Simply turning it over with your gardening fork will help to transform the soil into something that is more viable for growing plants.
Aerating soil is an important step that should not be neglected. Quality soil is necessary for plants to thrive, and your gardening fork will allow you to condition your soil properly. You can dig into the soil with the tines of your fork and turn it over.
If you have been gardening for any length of time, then you are likely familiar with the hoe. A hoe will allow you to perform various tasks — remove weeds, harvest crops, and much more.
You want the hoe to be long enough to reach deep into the garden area without you having to step inside of it. It is also helpful when the hoe is durable, allowing you to put pressure on it to move soil around with causing any problems.
There are many types of shovels, but the traditional model is simply used to dig dirt. Most shovels of this type will have a pointed blade design that makes it easy to dig into the hard ground. You can step on the blade in order to press the shovel into the earth, allowing you to dig deeper.
The important thing to remember when choosing a shovel is that you need it to be very sturdy. Consider what you are going to be using the shovel for, and then determine whether or not the shovel is up to the task.
You have to think about what you’re going to be lifting with the shovel and how much weight the shovel can carry without having problems. Generally, you should find that most common shovels will be perfectly fine for general gardening and everyday digging on your property.
A mattock is similar to a pickaxe and you would be forgiven for mistaking the two. The shape of a mattock is pretty much exactly like what you would think of when envisioning a normal pickaxe.
It will feature both an axe blade and either an adze or a pick. Mattocks that have a pick are known as pick mattocks, and the ones with an adze are referred to as cutter mattocks.
The mattock shown here is a pick mattock. It features a fiberglass handle that is easy to hold and is shock-absorbent. This tool is used for the purpose of digging and cutting things. It is an agricultural tool that is going to be useful in certain situations.
If you need to cut or dig away weeds, then the mattock is going to be a very handy tool to have at the ready. It can also be used to help you dig into the dirt and to plant seeds, so it is a truly versatile tool.
Typically, trowels will have steel blades and wooden handles. The trowel shown here has a handle that is made out of oak. It feels very natural to use with or without gloves. The durable steel blade is going to work excellently for your purposes, as well, so this is a highly recommended purchase.
A trowel is also referred to as a hand shovel or hand spade. When you want to be able to dig small holes for planting in your garden, using a trowel is often going to be the easiest solution. To properly use a trowel, you will want to get down on the ground.
Most people use these trowels on their knees and work to complete their gardening tasks. This can be difficult for people with mobility issues, so some may prefer to use the spade that is mentioned above.
Even so, the trowel can be easier to use than the spade for certain tasks. It’s a perfect companion tool for both planting new plants and general garden maintenance.
7. Post Hole Digger
A post hole digger is going to be essential for some jobs. If you are planning on putting in a fence on your property, then having one of these to dig the post hole is going to make your life a lot easier. It is possible to do the work with other tools, but the post hole digger is specifically meant for the task.
The model shown here is very high-quality with a fiberglass handle. It is made in a Hercules pattern, and its two-piece steel blades will make quick work of the dirt that you’re trying to remove.
8. Planting Auger
When you are trying to plant something deep into the ground, having access to a planting auger can make the task a lot simpler. This auger will attach to a drill, and you can then drill into the ground to open up the area.
This is the perfect size for planting many different things. You will be able to use the planting auger properly from an upright position and can get it deep into the ground.
9. Digging Knife
Knives can actually be quite useful for digging purposes. It is capable of cutting into hard soil and creating holes and a knife is flat enough to be able to help you remove rocks that are embedded in the soil, as well.
The knife shown here has a great contoured handle that allows you to keep a steady grip. The blade of the knife has a serrated edge and a depth scale, making it simple to see how deep you’re digging. It comes with a carrying case that has a belt loop, as well, making it simple to carry this around with you safely.
10. Folding Shovel
These shovels are quite compact and can fit in your car without taking up too much space. You can use this shovel to help you out in a pinch if you got your car stuck somehow, or if you need it for any other digging purposes.
This particular folding shovel has several other functions. It includes a compass, a saw blade, and even a screwdriver. You’ll be able to get yourself out of many situations by having a convenient tool like this around. It’s a good survivalist tool that will help you to dig and perform many other tasks.
Power Tools for Digging Soil
11. Fence Post Auger
Augers come in all sizes and power. If you need to dig large holes for fence posts or something similar, consider an industrial electric post hole digger.
12. Electric Battery-Powered Tiller
These are fantastic for digging “planting trenches” in your yard. Sure beats a shovel. It holds just like a weed wacker but instead of slicing and cutting it digs mini-trenches or holes.
13. Electric Shovel
Welcome to the battery-powered generation of tools. The battery-powered drill has been around a long time, but now we have the battery-powered shovel. While I think conceptually it might be good, the customer reviews aren’t good… so be sure to read through them.
14. Power Tillers
Rather than digging deep into soil, power tillers dig just below the surface and turn the dirt over for the purpose of aeration. This is essentially the power version of a gardening fork.
There are many different types of power tillers that you can purchase. You will find both electric models and gas-powered models on the market. The gas-powered models are generally more powerful, but they are also noisier and generate more pollution.
Electric power tillers are the best option for many people. The model shown here is a corded model that will work well for your purposes. It can aerate your garden quickly and feels simple to use overall. It has six steel tines that are capable of turning over your soil at a high speed, making it a perfect option for tilling the garden in a timely fashion.
Additional Digging Tools
Digging sticks and instruments have been essential tools for millennia, used by all cultures for foraging, gathering, and planting crops. Digging tools started as sticks from local trees and evolved into wood hands with stone and eventually metal to make the digging process as efficient as possible.
Today, digging the correct hole size and depth is a crucial aspect of gardening, so having the right tool is critical. Some of the most efficient digging tools include:
15. Archeological Dental Pick
An archeological dental pick is a tapered and thin steel scraping tool with three bend hooks on either end. Like the dental picks in a dentist’s office, these small tools help with soil removal in small or tight locations and are perfect for compact gardening beds or potting soil.
While this is not in every gardener’s toolbox, it’s a great option for smaller gardens or to squeeze into tight places.
Augers are large drills used to bore holes in the ground. Two types of augers are available: man and machine power. Man-powered augers are completely manual and twist during use.
Machine powered utilize gasoline to operate the engine and can quickly dig holes. Although they are more expensive than the man-powered option, they can do the work in a fraction of the time.
Broadforks are another uncommon tool that proves to be incredibly helpful. A broadfork is a multi-purpose item used for aerating, lifting, tilling, and turning the soil.
This tool features two pole handles attached to a row of five or six steel tines affixed to a crossbar, allowing you to place your foot on the unit and drive into the ground. This tool is essentially a manual rototiller with the weight of your body helping to dig.
18. Digging Bar
Source: AmazonA digging bar is constructed from iron to ensure strength and durability. These bars look like a spear with a sharp digging blade and a long, thin shaft. This allows users to thrust the stick into tough ground with ease.
In addition, digging bars allow compressed rubble to loosen and pry open using mechanical leverage. Sharp-edged digging bars are ideal for splitting buried masonry and slicing through roots.
19. Grafting Tool
A grafting tool is similar to a digging bar in that they have a long shaft with a smaller spade. The grafting tool is ideal for digging deep and long excavations, such as post holes. This robust, small blade can expose small crevices when using the long handle, which delivers extra leverage.
20. Grub Hoe
If you are an experienced gardener, you’re familiar with a grub hoe, which allows for weed removal, harvesting crops, and other functions. You want a long enough hoe to reach the gardening bed without stepping inside.
Other attributes include durability to ensure longevity, maneuverability, strength to transport the soil without causing issues, and ergonomics, so you are comfortable digging.
21. Hand breaker
A hand breaker is often overlooked as a digging tool but often proves to be an invaluable asset for many jobs. This tool is necessary if you encounter concrete or stone sections while digging in the garden.
If you’re attempting to add fence posts, finding challenging materials in the ground is common, and the hand breaker can quickly dig through existing masonry objects.
Three tiller types are available: front tine, rear tine, and mini cultivator. The front tine tiller features a forward rotating tine found at the front of the unit. The engine sits slightly behind or above the tines to offer weight when tearing into the soil.
The wheels are rear-mounted to ensure the equipment is easy to push. Rear tine tillers are engineered with the tines at the back of the machine. This tiller type is much more complicated and usually has a larger engine, which equates to being more expensive.
In addition, the front-mounted wheels allow the equipment to propel forward at a set speed. Finally, the mini cultivator is a more compact version of front tine tillers, making them more portable and lightweight. Mini cultivators are best used for soft soil or raised gardening beds.
23. Trenching Spade
Trenching spades are the most typical gardening tools used to easily dig, trench, and move Earth. Different spade types and sizes exist, depending on the job’s demands. Smaller spades are excellent for digging deep, but small holes for bulb planting.
When digging trenches, a trenching spade is longer and narrower, which allows for better concentration on smaller surface areas and penetrates challenging soils. Spades are also useful for numerous other gardening activities.
Digging knives are a must-have in the tool belt of any gardener. Top brands include:
As a leading gardening company, Fiskars offers a variety of highly-ranked products across multiple categories.
Fiskars offers the Big Grip Garden Knife within the digging knives group, based on the Japanese Hori Hori design, but with a dual tip. The two-pronged knife works best for weeding through soft soil or light-duty gardening.
Nisaku is an excellent Japanese gardening brand with plenty of products in the United States for casual and serious gardeners.
For example, two of their digging knives – the NJP801 Weeding and Digging Knife and the NJP802 Hori Hori Weeding and Digging Knife – offer high-quality materials mixed with ergonomic designs and lightweight feels. In addition, both are rust-proof and can hack through overgrown shrubs.
Another well-known Japanese gardening brand is Sensei, which features a variety of excellent products. One product that shines is the Hori Hori Digging Knife, which looks more like a knife you would use in the jungle than in your backyard.
However, the non-slip handgrip is comfortable and ergonomic, while the rust-proof stainless steel blade easily slices through tough roots and compact soil.
While Truly Garden may not be as well-known as other brands on this list, the company is rising in the ranks fast among gardening enthusiasts, mainly because of its Hori Hori knife, which features a sharpening tool and leather sheath.
This knife is consistent with the brand value of providing high-quality products that must meet top-notch standards.
Spades are available in all sizes and shapes, with some being more suitable for a job than others. The best brands to utilize include:
Well-known in gardening circles, Gerber is an excellent brand for purchasing spades. Their top digging tool is the E-Tool Folding Spade, which folds to the size of the steel blade for those who don’t have much storage.
Since it’s constructed from a nylon, glass-filled handle, this tool is portable, tough, and lightweight enough to allow you to work longer.
Fiskars offers numerous gardening tools, and the Steel D-Handle Garden Spade is the best choice when it comes to spades.
This tool is available in two sizes, is constructed from heavy-duty steel, and comes with a lifetime warranty. The company is well-known in the gardening industry for its durable products that last, even after years of abuse.
Those searching for a company that stands by its gardening products consider Roamwild. If you aren’t happy with their tools after use, you can return them for a full refund!
One of their best gardening tools is the Multi-Digger Garden Spade, constructed from reinforced fiberglass to ensure durability and a lightweight feel. The serrated edges allow you to cut through the clay and thick roots, which is a task most other spades cannot complete.
Depending on your soil type, the best digging tool offered by Spear Head is the Spade Gardening Shovel, a hybrid that can remove substantial amounts of dirt while slicing through rocky soil or tackling clay.
The robust fiberglass construction makes it a durable, lightweight, versatile tool. Spear Head is known for its durable products that are comfortable and easy to use.
Spading forks are a critical gardening tool that helps aerate and dig in the soil. It can also move hay, compost, or mulch outside and cut through hard soil due to the pointed tips. The best brands include:
A recurring name on this list is Fiskars due to their gardening tool variety and high-quality standards. For example, Fiskars Ergo D-handle Steel Spading Fork delivers an ergonomic design that makes lifting, loosening, turning, and mixing materials easy.
The tool’s uniqueness is the angled D-handle, which automatically places your wrist in a neutral position while the pointed steel tines penetrate hardened soil.
While Tabor Tools doesn’t excel in every gardening tool product line, often overshadowed by larger brands like Fiskars, they deliver well with their Digging Fork. This 4-tined digging fork is excellent for general digging and groundbreaking.
In addition, the tool is constructed from high-carbon steel to maximize toughness and strength, which means it’s a perfect option for heavy-duty industrial and commercial uses.
Similarly, True Temper is the little brother to larger brands and makes an excellent spading fork. The True Temper 2812200 4-Tine Spading Digging Fork allows you to execute various projects efficiently.
Designed for aerating, digging, and turning soil, the four diamond-pointed diamond-steel tines can slice through the most challenging clay materials and soils, like cutting through butter.
Where to Buy Digging Tools
Purchasing the proper gardening tools is one of the most essential aspects of practical gardening. However, with so many shopping locations, including online retailers, it can be challenging to understand the best places to meet your gardening needs.
Some enjoy the convenience of online shopping, while others want to hold and touch the purchasing tools physically. These are some of the best brick-and-mortar and online stores for all your gardening needs.
For those who enjoy the hands-on aspect of gardening tool shopping, these are some of your best locations, none of which are a surprise!
All Home Depots have an extensive gardening section, which offers tools, plants, seeds, and other equipment required for a home garden. Also, employees working in the gardening section have extensive knowledge of the equipment they sell and tips on completing your project.
Local Gardening Stores
You always hear the term “buy local,” well, now is your chance to support your local home goods or gardening-specific stores.
In addition to being able to provide financial support to local businesses, most gardening stores have every item you need to transform your garden from a heap of dirt to a blossoming garden of Eden!
Like Home Depot, Lowes has an extensive gardening section with knowledgeable support staff to answer any questions about the product or the project you are currently working on.
While Walmart is more of a general store, most have a decent home gardening section with the essential tools needed.
If you need something quick and Walmart is the closest retailer, you can usually find the required product. One of the greatest benefits of Walmart is its low prices. However, you won’t get the same customer service as Home Depot or Lowes.
If you prefer the convenience of online shopping, these are some of the best online gardening stores.
It’s no surprise that Amazon made this list since they are one of the leading online retailers in the world. In addition to offering two-day shipping, Amazon has the most popular gardening equipment, seeds, plants, and other helpful products.
Gardner’s Supply Company
Founded in the early 1980s as a mail-order company, Gardener’s Supply Company has become one of the leading online resources for the modern gardener.
As a completely employee-owned company, you get the benefits of supporting a ma-and-pa-type store with the convenience of online shopping. The company prides itself on having an ethical and sustainable attitude.
Launching in 1993 by constructing commercial greenhouses across the U.S., the Greenhouse Megastore launched its online store in the early 2000s to offer home growers greenhouse equipment needed to cultivate plants.
Since then, Greenhouse Megastore has expanded operations to become one of the leaders in gardening equipment. In addition, the company prides itself on delivering exceptional customer service.
Supplying seeds to consumers for over 150 years, Park Seed was founded by George Watt Park in 1868 when he began selling seeds to the local community at age 15.
From there, the company published catalogs and developed a national mail-order service, which they continue today. However, Park Seed has branched out to become a leading online presence in gardening equipment and, of course, seeds!
Plow and Hearth
With four decades of experience, Plow and Hearth started as a tiny country store in 1980 and expanded into the mail-order world in 1982.
The company continues to operate from Madison, Virginia, and has developed into a popular online store with 26 U.S. locations. Plow and Hearth have a range of gardening equipment, which can be browsed using their easy-to-navigate online store.