Calling a spade a shovel

A SPADE is not a spade. Made from wood, metal and hardened plastic this hand tool can be a gardener's best friend. Depending on the job and situation, you need to choose wisely, starting with the blade or the 'business end.' Sharp for cutting, rounded for digging. Narrow for precision, treaded for letting your legs get involved.

I tend to lean towards hardened steel but all metal blades are worthy. Then there's the handle. Short for confined spaces and narrow turnarounds, (that is, off the back off a ute or out of a wheelbarrow). Long for hole digging, extra reach and ergonomics. An angled handle will help with lifting heavier loads.

Lastly, the handle. I prefer one that is not attached at any point, thereby not giving any weak points. Usually this means the handle not existing and maybe just a rubber grip fashioned on. Other handles include a T-handle, which helps with thrusting the blade. Also a D-handle which helps with lifting the shovel and is especially useful for short- handled spades. So if you consider your needs your decision will be made before you set foot in a store. I keep a long-handled, angled 'post hole' shovel and a short-handled 'cementing shovel' on me for all jobs and find that I can usually improvise for jobs such as edging and cutting. So keep your eyes out at those garage sales for your next best friend and may it serve you well.

Dig long and get your dig on.

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