Types of Shovels

A shovel is a popular hand tool that seems to be around since forever. It features a wide, broad blade that’s attached to a handle. It’s used to move things around like snow, rocks, soil, coal, etc. easily. It’s one of the most versatile hand tools that has widespread use in gardening, mining, and construction industries.

However, you may wonder – what was the first shovel-like? When was it first used?

While no one knows when the first shovel was made, it’s been a thing ever since people started farming, producing goods, trading, and building homes and communities. Unlike the shovels today, archeological findings suggest that back in the day, people used wide shoulder blades of animals such as an ox for the purpose of moving soil and stones during farming and even for burying the dead. It was approximately 1750BC when wooden shovels were made to be used for the extraction of metal and other mining practices. 

With the inception of technology and improvements in nearly everything, including the design of the iron ore smelting pits. The Iron Age in South West Asia was the time when finally, iron shovels were first made. Some years down the lane, metal was used to construct shovels, making them a more durable and stronger hand tool. It was in the 1890s that the shovels were made in varying sizes to suit different jobs and on the basis of texture and density of the materials that were to be moved.

When you look at archeological findings, you’ll realize that a shovel isn’t a product of technological advancement. It’s more of a basic tool that has evolved in terms of design over the course of time.

Types of Shovels

There are numerous types of shovels and as we’ve already mentioned, each is meant for a different purpose. If you’re planning to invest in a good shovel, familiarizing yourself with the different types of shovels will help you make the right choice.

Digging Shovel

Types of shovels: digging shovel

A digging shovel is the most common type of shovel. As you can tell by the name, it’s used to dig up the soil. They feature sharp blades that cut through soil and make way through rocks and pebbles in the soil easily. One feature that most digging shovels are equipped with is a high grip collar that allows you to move hardened soil-less laborious. 

Digging shovels can be equipped with any of the 3 types of blades:

Square Shovel

Types of shovels: square shovel

A square digging shovel has a square-shaped, flat blade that has a straight end that makes it suitable for making edges and trenches. You can also use a square shovel to move bushes and shrubs. The blade is quite rigid, which means you can use it to dig tough soil.

Pointed Shovel

Types of shovels: pointed shovel

This type of digging shovel features a pointed blade and is used to work in tight spaces. It’s suitable to work the soil that has a lot of rocks and roots. Since the blade of this type of digging shovel is pointed at the front, it can be used to scoop loose soil up easily. 

Round Shovel

Types of shovels: round shovel

A round blade digging shovel is ideal for gardening purposes. The dome-shaped blade makes moving plants and shrubs easier as it doesn’t cut the roots, as in the case of square and pointed digging shovels. 

Edging Shovel

Types of shovels: edging shovel

An edging shovel is used to create edges in the soil. It’s the perfect type of shovel for you if you want to divide the soil of your garden into separate zones for planting different plant varieties. The blade of an edging shovel is shaped like a half-moon. Not only is its shape unique, but the blade is also very thin and can be used to create precise edges in your driveway, garden borders, fences, and sidewalks.

Trenching Shovel

Types of shovels: trenching shovel

If you’re looking for a shovel that has been designed specifically to dig trenches, a trenching shovel is what you’ll need. The blade of this shovel is narrow and long with a pointed edge. The design of the blade is somewhat triangular, which is why the blade moves quickly through the soil, making digging a trench a lot less laborious for the user.

Handheld Shovel

Types of shovels: handheld shovel

The handheld shovel is a small shovel, ideal to be used single-handedly. It’s the perfect gardening tool for someone who maintains small plants and flower pots. A hand shovel is the perfect garden shovel for basic gardening projects. Another tool you might consider for gardening is a trowel.

Snow or Scoop Shovel

Types of shovels: snow shovel

If you live in an area where it snows aggressively, you should consider investing in a high-quality snow or scoop shovel. A scoop shovel is one of the largest shovels. It features a large, curved blade, either made of blade or plastic, which allows the user to remove snow from their driveway, backyard, or patio in literally no time. The use of the scoop shovel isn’t limited to removing snow only. You can also use it as a gardening tool to move and dig through soil that has large rocks or to move stones and gravel.

Post-Hole Shovel

Types of shovels: post hole shovel

A post-hole shovel is used to dig post holes for fences, night lights or for installing a pergola, etc. It’s a specialized shovel that digs post holes in much lesser time than a standard shovel. It features two shovelheads built onto a single shaft. Both the shovelheads enter the ground at the same time and when you pull the shovel out, it pulls out dirt with it, making holes for the post-installation. 

Flat Shovel

A flat shovel is also a very commonly used shovel. It features a large, flat blade that allows you to move loads of soil at a time. You can even use it to move gravel, stones, and loose sand. Because it’s equipped with fairly large blades, you can use it to dig shallow holes. It’s the right shovel to fulfill your basic digging needs.

Tree Planting Shovel

Types of shovels: tree planting shovel

If you love planting trees in your backyard, a tree planting shovel is what you need. Unlike all other types of shovels, it has a very long and narrow blade that digs deep into the ground, which is extremely important when planting trees. 

Power Shovel

Types of shovels: motor shovel

There are instances where a hand shovel is just not practical enough, as in the case of hardened snow and soil. This is where you’ll need a power shower. These shovels are equipped with a powerful motor and are a combination of a snow shovel and a snowblower. A power shovel is an ideal piece of equipment for people who live in areas where it snows quite a lot. Some power shovels can also be used to dig into the ground for basic gardening needs – but that’s not an application we recommend a power shovel for. A power shovel is suitable only for cases where a hand shovel just won’t do!

Folding Shovel

If you’re someone who likes to dig into the ground when you’re out on an adventure camping trip for the purpose of exploration or simply to make a place for the poles for your night camp? If yes, you should consider buying a folding shovel. It’s a small hand shovel that is foldable and can be easily be packed away in your backpack.

How to Choose a Shovel

There are many types of shovels. Not all shovels are suitable for all kinds of jobs. The shovel you choose will have an impact on how easy or laborious a particular task will feel. Shovels are invaluable tools and are more than often found in every house where there’s a garden. Not to mention the widespread use of shovels in various industries.

If you’re planning to buy a shovel but aren’t sure which one will be right for you, you need to go no further. We’ve listed down some of the most important factors that you must take into consideration when choosing a shovel.

Intended Use

As we said, different shovels are meant to be used for different purposes. Before you buy a shovel, you need to consider the job you’re buying it for. You should buy a shovel that’s specifically designed for the job you wish to do. For example, if you want a shovel to dig trenches, you’ll need a trenching shovel. A digging shovel is best suited to avid gardeners. 

Shape of the Blade

When you go to buy a shovel, you’ll see that shovels come with differently-shaped blades. It’s an important factor to keep in mind when buying a shovel. The shape of shovel that’s right for you depends on the type of soil that you’ll be working with. If you’re working with loose soil, a flat-edged shovel would serve the purpose best. However, if you’re going to be working with softer soils, a round blade shovel is what you should buy.

Weight and Size

Lightweight shovels are ideal for moving heavy piles of stones and pebbles whereas a heavier shovel is best suited to digging jobs. Moving a pile of heavy stones and rocks will be extremely laborious if your shovel is too heavy. The size of the shovel matters too. Ideally, a shovel should be about 4 inches lower than the level of your shoulders. If your shovel isn’t of the right height, it’ll cause shoulder and back pain.


Shovels can be made of steel, aluminum, or titanium. The construction material of the shovel will have an impact on its durability and strength. If you’re planning to use your shovel for heavy-duty tasks, a shovel made entirely of steel seems like the best choice. If your work isn’t too heavy-duty, an aluminum shovel would do the job well. However, if you want your shovel to be both lightweight and sturdy, you should invest in a titanium shovel. You will also come across plastic shovels that are perfect for individuals who like to keep themselves busy in basic gardening.


Pay attention to how the blade and handle are attached to the shaft. If it’s attached by a screw, it won’t last too long. If you want your shovel to stay intact for years to come, opt for one that uses bolts.

Common Questions About Types of Shovels

What makes different types of shovels actually different?

Shovels are divided into different types based on the type of blade they’re equipped with. For example, a flat shovel has a flat blade whereas a post-hole shovel has two shovelheads.

Which shovel is best for digging?

A digging shovel is best for digging since it features a super-sharp blade that cuts through the ground efficiently. 

How do I choose a good shovel?

To make sure you’re choosing a good shovel, consider the following factors:

  • Blade shape
  • Size and height
  • Weight
  • Material
  • Purpose 

Conclusion on Types of Shovels

Now that you know about all the types of shovels, you can decide better which type of shovel best suits your needs. If you’re someone who just wants to buy a shovel for basic gardening, a hand shovel or flat shovel would do the job well. However, if you’re avid DIY-er, you’ll need to buy more specialized shovels that sit well with your requirements. Make a wise choice as shovels are usually a one-time purchase.

Read: Types of Lawn Mower Blades


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Henry Rootwell, a passionate gardener and horticulturist based in Oregon, holds a degree in Horticulture from Oregon State University. With extensive knowledge and experience in plant species, cultivation techniques, and gardening tools, Henry's vision for this site is to create a valuable resource for gardeners of all skill levels. By sharing his expertise through engaging content, he aims to inspire readers to cultivate their own green havens, foster a strong connection with nature, and contribute to a healthier planet.
Photo of author
Henry Rootwell, a passionate gardener and horticulturist based in Oregon, holds a degree in Horticulture from Oregon State University. With extensive knowledge and experience in plant species, cultivation techniques, and gardening tools, Henry's vision for this site is to create a valuable resource for gardeners of all skill levels. By sharing his expertise through engaging content, he aims to inspire readers to cultivate their own green havens, foster a strong connection with nature, and contribute to a healthier planet.