Hoe And Shovel: What Is The Difference?

During a recent trip to the hardware store, I saw a lineup of gardening hoes and shovels on display. After thinking about what the differences between the two might be, I decided to do some research to come up with an accurate comparison of the two tools.

What’s the difference between a hoe and a shovel? A gardening hoe is a tool with a long handle that will usually have a square or rectangular blade at the end. They are best used for removing weeds in a garden or splitting up tough areas of soil. A gardening shovel, on the other hand, has a blade with a sharp point at the end and is able to scoop up large piles of soil or rocks all at once.

When taking care of or planning for any kind of garden, it is important to have the necessary tools to do so effectively. Gardening hoes and shovels are two of the most common tools that are found in gardens all over the world and are used for several tasks around the yard.

Before you can plant a successful garden, it is important to understand the difference between the two, as well as what theyare best used for.

What Exactly Is a Gardening Hoe?


A gardening hoe is a tool that serves the purpose of pulling weeds and shaping soil without much force or intense body movements. The basic construction of a gardening hoe includes a long handle, usually made of wood, that extends away from the gardener with a metal blade at the end that is used to dig into the soil.

In the absence of a hoe, the gardener would have to bend over into the soil and repeatedly pull the weeds out by hand, which can eventually become tiring and even cause more long-term problems such as back injury.

There are several different types of gardening hoes to choose from, depending on the specific tasks you will need to complete in your garden. This decision should be made based on a variety of factors.

The first thing to consider is whether or not you are able to repeatedly lift and move heavy objects. If you prefer a lighter tool, you should opt for a hoe that has an alternative material such as aluminum on the handle instead of wood, which is usually the heaviest.

Next, you should evaluate the needs of your garden to decide what type of hoe will be ideal for the tasks you need to complete. For example, if your garden has thick soil and a lot of weeds, you should choose a hoe with a more durable blade. If you need to get in between small areas, a tool with a thinner paddle will give you the best results.

The most basic type of gardening hoe is called a paddle hoe, or draw hoe. You might also hear this specific tool is referred to as a chopping or planter hoe.

These tools look exactly like the standard shape of any regular garden hoe. There is a rectangular paddle located at the end of the handle that is usually wooden. As a general reference, a common size for these paddles can run anywhere from 6 to 15 inches long, with the matching width measurements being approximately 5 to 10 inches.

Even though they come in different sizes, the paddles will stick out from the end of the handle at a precise angle of 90 degrees. Paddle hoes are perfect for pulling weeds out directly from the root. In order to use one of these, you would simply dig the edge of the blade into the ground near the root to loosen it and pull it out.

They can also be used to break up stiff areas of the soil in order to move it or just to aerate it. The 90-degree angle of the blade is ideal for forming the soil into a certain shape as well.

A stirrup hoe, on the other hand, has an attachment that looks similar to the stirrup on a saddle, which it is named after. In case you are not familiar with what a stirrup looks like, it is similar to a loop with empty space in the middle.

The name stirrup refers to the piece that hangs on the bottom of a saddle that holds the rider’s foot in place and allows them to step up onto the animal’s back, usually a horse or mule.

These types of hoes are most often used to dig out tough weeds that will not come out of the ground by simply pulling them by hand. Also known as a loop hoe or scuffle hoe, the gardener can use this tool using three different motions.

It can be placed on the ground and pulled back toward the gardener to pull the weed out of the soil just like any other type of garden ho, or it can be moved up and down in a chopping motion.

Lastly, a stirrup hoe can be moved in a back and forth motion to extract the weed without disturbing the area of soil too severely. This makes it convenient for the gardener because they will not have to take extra time to repair broken soil after they are done using the tool to remove stubborn weeds.

Collinear hoes, or “onion hoes”, have a longer and thinner paddle at the end of their handles than most other variations. These blades measure an average of about 7 inches long and only 1 inch wide or less.

This tool is perfect for accessing narrow spaces without damaging nearby plants or soil. If the area of your garden is tight with minimal distance between each seed, you will be able to use a collinear hoe to dig out weeds without much of a trace afterward.

The best way to use a collinear hoe is to move the paddle in a parallel motion to the top of the soil that holds the target weed. This type of tool is increasingly convenient in comparison to most of the alternatives because it does not require much force. This is due to the sharp and thin blade that is able to easily cut through the soil without breaking the back of the gardener.

Warren hoes and Dutch hoes have an even flatter blade at the end of their handles, but they are not shaped in the form of a rectangle like a collinear hoe. Instead, they are shaped into a triangle or a spade shape.

This type of blade is also designed to fit into smaller spaces with the sharpest points of the triangle or spade facing outward. These points are used to dig into the soil and remove tough weeds.

Contrary to the most common gardening hoe shapes and designs, the heart hoe has a V-shaped blade at the end of the handle. Just like the name suggests, this kind of tool looks very similar to a heart.

Using this tool does not require pulling it backward repeatedly, but instead allows the operator to turn the blade at any angle. The point at the tip of the “V” makes these rotations increasingly easy.

Aside from all of the different types of traditional gardening hoes that have some type of blade at the end of a very long handle, there is the option of a smaller hoe that can be held in one hand.

To use a hand-held gardening hoe, the gardener will need to sit or kneel on the ground directly in front of the weed that needs to be removed. These tools are ideal for those who are more detail-oriented that would like to see what they are doing up close. However, they can also cause a strain to the back with frequent use.

What Is a Gardening Shovel?

A shovel is a tool that is used for digging and moving large quantities of heavier materials. The basic construction of a garden shovel includes an extended handle that has a metal piece at the end.

The metal piece is pointed at the end in order to effectively cut through soil, while the other areas of the shovel head are wider to hold materials such as dirt and rocks.

The parts of a shovel include the grip, handle, collar, and blade. The grip is the piece at the very top of the shovel that is held by the gardener and is attached to the handle. The handle is the extended piece, usually the shape of a cylinder, that holds the blade at the very end.

The collar is the area in which the blade is securely attached to the bottom of the handle. The blade, located at the very bottom of the tool is commonly made of metal or plastic. The flat area of the blade that is closest to the collar is also known as the step.

It is called the step because the gardener is able to place their foot on top of the flat portion and place weight onto it in order to dig the shovel deeper into the soil. This makes it easier to fill the blade than trying to force the shovel into the ground with only the arms.

The Different Types of Gardening Shovels

There are several different types of shovels that are available for the specific purpose of gardening that fall into a few main categories.

A round-point shovel has an increasingly durable blade at the end of the handle with a precise point that makes it easier for the gardener to cut into the soil. This type of shovel is best used for tasks that require a lot of digging.

A square-point shovel serves the purpose of transporting materials from one point to another rather than actually digging into the ground. This type of shovel is ideal for moving piles of rocks or even smoothing soil or concrete during construction.

There is also an alternative gardening tool called a trenching shovel, or an irrigation shovel. This is best used for creating deep holes without breaking the surrounding soil or destroying nearby plants. A trenching shovel is basically exactly what it sounds like, perfect for digging trenches for irrigation in a garden.

Very similar to trenching shovels, a drain spade has a thinner and more narrow blade at the end of its handle with a tip that is round. The best way to use a drain spade it to dig trenches or other holes in small places. They can also be used to dig holes for existing plants to be placed into.

Scoop shovels have some of the most widely shapes blades with a flat tip at the end. They are most commonly used for moving materials, just like the square-point shovel. Think of a shovel that is used to move snow in the winter as a reference.

These kinds of shovels can also be used to move other gardening materials in large masses such as fertilizer, rocks, or mulch.

Specifically for removing weeds from a garden or cleaning up narrow spaces in the yard, scraper shovels have very small and flat blades. They can also be referred to as edgers, which are ideal for detailed and precise work.

The opposite of most of the shovels listed above, a trowel is an extremely small shovel that can be used and maneuvered using only one hand. It also has a very small blade, but the trip ends in a sharp point. These tools are great for planting seeds and repotting existing flowers and plants.

Lastly, a garden shovel is a tool that can be used for almost anything that needs to be done in a garden. It is perfect for digging up soil, transplanting or repotting plants, lifting rocks, fertilizer, and other materials, and much more.

When making the decision of what kind of gardening shovel will suit your needs, you should ask yourself a few questions about what is required for your garden in specific. If you will be doing a lot of straightforward digging in larger areas, you should select a shovel that has a more rounded point. If you will often be digging in more confined spaced, you should use a trowel.

Trenching and drain shovels are the best for gardens that require a lot of transplants or irrigation trenches. Additionally, they can be used to remove stubborn vegetation with stiff roots during the process of clearing the space for the garden.

If you are planning to move a lot of materials into your gardens such as piles of soil, sand, gravel, or rocks, you should go for a shovel that has a square point at the end. Additionally, you can choose a scoop shovel if it will hold up against the type of materials you will be transporting.

Scraper and edger tools are the best for pulling out weeds if your garden frequently requires this type of maintenance. When in doubt, you can just purchase a trowel or a basic garden shovel, which will both be sufficient for almost anything you will need to do in your garden.

The Best Way to Find and Purchase Gardening Tools

Now that you have figured out the differences between gardening hoes and shovels as well as the various types of these tools and their unique purposes, you might be ready to purchase some of them. So, what is the best way to go about finding exactly what you are looking for?

Some of the best places to find a large variety of all types of tools for the garden are your local home improvement and hardware stores. Basically, any kind of retailer that has a specific gardening section will probably have plenty of hoes and shovels for you to choose from.

Alternatively, any kind of gardening tool can be found and purchased online and delivered directly to your doorstep, if you would prefer not to travel to the store in person.

Even though this may seem like the most convenient option, it is always better to be able to try the product in person and inspect the quality before spending money on it.

Online purchases can also incur additional fees to cover taxes and delivery, which can raise the overall price of your investment in a shovel or hoe.

If you do decide to make an online purchase of a new tool for your garden, it is important that you make an informed decision and make yourself aware of the return and refund policies in the event that something goes wrong.

Related Questions

Are there any other gardening tools that are more convenient than shovelsand hoes?

A garden tiller is a mechanical gardening tool that carries out the functions of breaking up dirt and distributing them among all the plants in the garden. Soil naturally contains nutrients that help plants grow, but it can often thicken and group together in stiff clumps on the ground.

The function of a garden tiller is so important in this aspect because it opens up the clumps of soil to allow the nutrients to spread out and soak into the vegetation.

These functions are very similar to the traditional garden shovel, which serves the purpose of digging through the soil and separating it in preparation for new seeds to be planted.

The only difference between the two is the fact that the mechanical garden tiller will do twice the work in half the time in comparison to a standard gardening shovel that must be operated manually.

A cultivator, on the other hand, is an automatic gardening tool that serves the purpose of rotating and aerating the soil, stirring fertilizers into the ground, and removing weeds in an existing garden. Due to the significantly smaller size of cultivators, they are able to mix soil together more thoroughly.

After the land has been cleared of any existing plants or hard objects and properly tilled, the cultivator will be able to run through the soil to prepare the garden for planting. Most cultivators run on gas or electricity, with both corded and cordless designs.

Again, this is very similar to the functions of a basic gardening hoe. Regardless of the shape and type of hoe, the basic purpose of the tool is to cultivate and maintain the health of the garden by removing weeds and breaking up soil.

Similarly, an electric cultivator is much more convenient than manually moving a hoe back and forth over the soil.

How much does it cost to build and maintain a garden?

There are several tools and supplies that are required for the construction, planting, and maintenance of a garden. Regardless of what it is you will be planting, there are multiple tasks that go into the action of planting any kind of garden.

 Aside from the garden tillers, cultivators, shovels, and hoes as mentioned above, the most basic things you will need include soil, seeds, gardening gloves, water, and gardening beds, if applicable.

Before planting seeds into the ground, or even beginning to prepare the soil in your garden for planting, you will need to purchase a sturdy pair of gardening gloves.

Gardening gloves are absolutely necessary in order to protect the hands and fingertips from potential cuts, infections, and other injuries.

There are several different types of gardening gloves to choose from, including cotton, leather, latex, rubber, and nitrile. The average cost of a good quality pair of gardening gloves will vary between brands and materials, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $100.

Although these prices do not include regular costs of maintenance for the gloves, this can be a great investment that can last for most of your gardening journey, as long as you take proper care of them after each use.

The amount of soil you will need for your garden will depend on whether you decide to plant your garden directly into the ground or inside of a raised garden bed that you have purchased beforehand.

The average price you can expect to spend on soil for a raised garden bed will range anywhere from $50 to $2,000, depending on the size, material, and design.

Conventional gardens, on the other hand, can incur soil costs anywhere from $300 to $1,000. Depending on the specific criteria that your garden falls into, you can calculate how much you will spend on soil with an average price of about $10 per bag.

The final item on your list of supplies for your new garden will be the seeds. Vegetable, flower, and any other kind of plant seeds will usually come in small packages similar to the size of a kool-aid packet and will be filled with tons of small seeds.

These packets can be found at almost any hardware or home improvement store that has a gardening section. The cost will vary between each type of plant, but they are all relatively inexpensive. In fact, you can purchase one packet of seeds for the average price of under $10.

During the planning stages of your new garden, you can use this short guide as a reference to calculate exact costs. Don’t forget to factor in the amount of money you will spend on any raised planters as well as the water your plants will require throughout the month as indicated on the seed packets.

What are the factors that must be considered when planning out the location of a garden project?

The planning stages of any kind of garden are increasingly important and all factors must be carefully considered. First of all, you should know exactly how much sunlight each type of seed will require per day. These levels can vary from full sun, which is direct sunlight with no obstructions, to partial sunlight or partial shade.

Depending on what is written on the seed packet at the time of purchase, you will be able to reference how much sunlight your garden will require and plan out the location in your yard accordingly.

Additionally, it is important to make sure that your garden will not be placed in an area where its water supply can be taken away. Even though some vegetables will thrive in partial shade during most parts of the day, a garden should never be placed directly under a tree, or too close to it at all, for that matter.

When planting a new vegetable garden next to an old tree that has been in taking all of the water in the area for several years, it will be hard for your new plants to receive all of the water they need.

So, even though you might be able to grow lettuce in the shade that the big tree in your back yard provides daily, it would not be a good idea to start your garden in that exact area where the water and nutrients would be taken from the new seeds you plant.

Eyerly Family

The Eyerly Family is a family of 8 that loves gardening. Over the past several years we have been applying what we learn about gardening to our own 16x16 raised back yard garden. Our garden is very prolific and we grow a wide variety of vegetables which we love to eat! Click here to learn more about the Eyerly Family.

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