Difference between spade and shovel

I have been asked on multiple occasions the difference between spade and shovel.

I’m going to share with you today, what the differences are and the tasks suited to a spade or shovel. There are many variations from different companies, just remember there’s some clear design differences to know which is which.

The Spade

A spade is typically flatter and sharper than a shovel, often with a point at the blade. The main function of a spade is to dig or cut into hard ground, in addition, to get through tough soil such as clay a spade will have treads to push with a foot.

To cut through hard soils you would typically use a pick, but you can avoid this with a spade. The only drawback is not being able to shift as much material as a shovel.

The Shovel

A shovel can be used for digging, but this isn’t their original purpose. Having a wide curved blade enables them shift larger amounts of materials like dirt, soil and sand after being broken up by a pick or spade. There are some variations that offer a pointed blade such as a plumbers shovel or round mouth shovel.

Materials used

Metal or hard plastics can be used for shovel or spade blades, which makes them incredibly strong. Hardwood or hard plastics usually form the shaft. Shovels and spades can have a T or D type handle, or no handle with a longer shaft.

Digging Spade

This spade is designed for digging planting holes, the cutting edge allows easier penetration through hard ground. But can only shift small amounts of material.

digging spade
digging spade

Planting Spade

This planting spade is designed for digging planting holes, edging beds and removing small amounts of soil. Great for garden beds due to its small design.

planting spade
planting spade

Square Mouth Shovel

A Square Mouth Shovel is perfect for scooping and shifting sand, soil and other materials. It’s not suited to digging hard surfaces.

square mouth shovel
Square mouth shovel

Plumbers shovel

This particular plumbers shovel has a fibreglass handle. It can be used for digging drains, holes & general garden jobs. It can also shift more material than most spades. The image shows the shaft with out a T or D type handle.

plumbers shovel
plumbers shovel

Round Mouth Shovel

Round Mouth Shovels are great for digging, scooping and shifting. They offer a good balance between spade and shovel.

Round mouth shovel
Round mouth shovel

Trenching Shovel

Trenching Shovel is your ‘go to’ tool for laying pipes or cables. Digging and clearing trenches is made really easy.

trenching shovel
trenching shovel

Grain Scoop Shovel

As the name suggests this shovel has been designed to scoop grain. With this particular model it has been designed so it won’t create a spark and ignite the material being moved.

grain scoop shovel
grain scoop shovel

When buying a spade or shovel

Select one with a quality shaft such as ash or maple wood are good choices, the new plastics are just as strong. Have a look how the shaft attaches, ones that are fastened to the blade are a bit more durable over time.

There’s a lot of companies that offer a decent warranty on their products. One company still offers a 25 year warranty with its products.

Think about the tasks that you would like to do, remember if you are going to use it in a tight space, then a long shaft might not be suitable. 

My ‘go to’ is a round mouth shovel, but I have all of the variants “just in case”.

How to plant Hydrangeas

Farm hydrangea weekly market.jpg
Hydrangeas By 3268zauber – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

I received an email last week asking how to plant hydrangeas, sure I thought, but I thought I had better learn a little more about them first.

I was surprised to read Hydrangeas are native to southern and eastern Asia, only because they do well in so many places. Japan uses Hydrangea serrata as herbal tea due to its sweet taste. Please be very careful as many Hydrangeas are toxic if eaten and can irritate skin.

Hydrangeas are a brilliant ornamental flowering plant, great for using as a dining table feature in a pretty vase. Cut them when the blooms are fully developed, they do wilt a little quicker than other flowers so it’s best to experiment.

Sizes vary, depending on the variety ranges can be between 60cm (24″) to  2m (7′) or more.

How to plant Hydrangeas

Selecting the location

Most species do love the sun, but others like to have protection from the hot afternoon sun. The best way to find out about a variety you’re interested in would be to speak with your local nursery. Planting during early Autumn or spring produces the best results. 

You should plant them in well draining soil somewhere thats protected from high winds. They do need some space to grow, so keep them around 1m away from neighbouring plants.

Digging the hole

The hole should be around twice the size of the root ball and around the same depth. As with most plants, some manure or fertiliser in the hole helps to kickstart strong growth.

Backfill the hole and lightly compress the soil with your foot. You can than water it in.


Water deeply once a week or even twice, if the weather is particularly hot or dry. Plants in pots are likely to need daily watering.


Certain species don’t really ever require pruning, however will need a clean up from time to time. Due to their being so many species, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ for pruning, so ask when you’re purchasing from a nursery. Rule of thumb would be to only cut into the green and not back into the older wood. Stems that haven’t flowered will flower in the next season.

How to Adjust Hydrangea Color

Hydrangeas may produce pink, blue, or lavender blooms, depending on pH level. Alkaline soils, pH of 7.0 or more, are more likely to produce pink blooms, and more acidic soils, pH 5.0 or less produce blue flowers. By applying aluminium and iron or lime you can achieve the desired color, however white hydrangeas will always remain white.

List of tools used in gardening

It might surprise you how many tools are available to gardeners, but by no means would you need to buy them all. Most people would survive with only a few of these but here is a more comprehensive list of tools used in gardening.

A lot of people will tell you to purchase as cheap as possible, use it until it breaks and then replace it with something of better quality. I would say that this is a good idea, however some tools you just know will be bad straight away. Spend a little more on secateurs and loppers, things with moving parts. Be sensible and look at what you’re buying, if it looks bad new, it’s not going to be good in the garden.

Power Tools for the Lawn:

Lawn mower – different lawn mower types include petrol 2 stroke and 4 stroke, electric, ride on, push/manual. Some features are automatic drive, electric ignition, side discharge and mulching.

Line trimmer – available in petrol, electric corded and cordless. These are used for cutting grass or weeds in areas a lawn mower can’t reach. They use a monofilament line to do the cutting.

Brush cutter – these usually come in petrol versions. They use heavy duty blades to cut through thick weeds and branches.

Brush cutter

Garden edgers – petrol, electric corded,cordless and manual. Great for cutting clean lines around turf, they give a professional look to your lawn.

Powered Blowers and Vacuums:

Leaf blower – Available in petrol, electric corded and cordless. These are great for blowing lawn clippings, debris or leaves. You will still need to use a broom to clean it up.

Blower vac – Available in petrol, electric corded and cordless. Best of both worlds with blower and vacuum functions. Different attachments are available, even ones for vacuuming gutters out.

Powered Cutters and Trimmers:

Hedge trimmer – variations include electric corded and cordless. These are used for cleaning up hedges as the name suggests. There are smaller shears for shaping and larger models for large hedges. Some brands offer pole hedgers for hard to reach hedging.

Digging Tools

  • Shovels – good for scooping and shifting loose soil, sand or cement. If you’re not sure on the difference between a spade and shovel, read this.
  • Spades –  used for digging into hard dirt or turf by using bodyweight.
  • Forks – garden forks, mulch forks, hay forks
  • Mattocks – used for digging and chopping its a great hand planting tool, variations pick, hoe, axe, dual mattock.
  • Picks – good for breaking up hard ground and digging in stones.
  • Garden hoes – are used to shape soil, can be used to clear weeds or pull up some root veggies.
  • Fencing crowbar – a jack of all trades, used for digging or loosening soil. 
  • Augers – cut circular holes cleanly, good for fence post holes.
  • Weed pullers – work by using steel claws to penetrate the soil and pull out the weed, bonus of saving your back and knees.

Shears, pruning and saws

  • Bow saw – these have razor sharp teeth and make short work of tree branches. Most will have a replaceable blade. The size and shape can be annoying in tight spaces.
  • Secateurs – also known as hand pruners or pruning shears. Used to snip smaller branches in tight spaces. You get what you pay for with secateurs, so invest a little more.
  • Floral snips – used for light trimming jobs like small topiary jobs or vines
  • Loppers – used for cutting branches usually up to 30mm. If you have slightly weaker arms then some brands offer a geared solution that multiplies your strength.
  • Tree pruners – used for hard to reach branches, which is a lot safer than standing on a ladder. Some may have a pruning saw attachment and a lopper in one.
  • Pruning saw – electric or hand pruning saws are available. Again these are incredibly sharp and make light work on branches too thick for a lopper or in tight spaces.
  • Hedge shears – used for cleaning up bushes or hedges and provides more precision than a powered hedger.
  • Grass shears – you can use these for topiary or if you’re fussy, cleaning up the lawn

Chopping wood

  • Axes – splitting or chopping axe, versatile for any wood cutting requirements. I like the ones with hooked ends so the axe cant slip out of your hands.
  • Hatchets – used for cutting thinner wood, can be used on thin roots
  • Block splitters – used for splitting logs for firewood

Rakes and soil levelers:

  • Landscape rakes – are heavy duty metal and are for raking soil or stone. 
  • Leaf rakes – as the name suggests are for raking up leaves and usually made of plastic.
  • Soil spreader – used for levelling soil, for example top soil in preparation for paving or turf.

Turf conditioning

Cultivators – available in hand and powered models. They are used for preparing and turning soil for planting in flower gardens or veggie patches. 

Turf roller – often used to push lawn seed into top soil or levelling ruff patches in established turf.

Turf roller

Lawn aerator – lawn aerators are used when the soil under the grass has become compacted. They remove plugs of soil or if using spikes dig into the soil. This allows fertiliser and water and air to reach the grass roots, therefore promoting healthier turf.

Lawn aerator

So there you have it a complete list of tools used in gardening. Just remember you don’t need to buy them all at once!

Botanic Gardens of South Australia

Visiting Botanic Gardens is thankfully still free in most cities, when visiting South Australia you can visit one of these gardens.

Adelaide Botanic Garden

Adelaide Botanic Gardens Bicentennial conservatory.JPG
Bicentennial Conservatory By Peripitus – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Website: https://www.botanicgardens.sa.gov.au/home

Admission: Free

Location: North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 7:15am
Weekends and public holidays 9am

Closing hours: 
December to January 7:00pm
February to March 6:30pm
April 6:00pm 
May 5:30pm
June to July 5:00pm
August 5:30pm
September 6:00pm
October – November 6:30pm

Contact details: 
North Terrace
Adelaide SA 5000
GPO Box 1047
Adelaide SA 5001
Phone: (+61 8) 8222 9311

Adelaides Botanic Garden was opened in 1857, the 130 acre garden is set within the CBD of Adelaide. It’s just a 5 minute walk from Adelaide’s popular Rundle mall and only a 2 minute walk to the Adelaide Zoo.

The gardens have some notable attractions including the Titan arum otherwise known as the corpse flower and the Victoria amazonica waterlily. (please check with the website to see if the corpse flower is currently on display)

Within the gardens is the largest single span glasshouse in the southern hemisphere called the Bicentennial Conservatory. The climate within the glasshouse is that of a subtropical rain forest, perfect to visit on a winters day.

The Botanic Park is right next door, with plane trees and 100 year old Moreton Bay Fig trees. It’s surrounded by the river torrens and the Adelaide zoo. The Moreton Bay Fig trees are an amazing sight to see, I highly recommend spending some time here.

Mount Lofty Botanic Garden

Mt Lofty Botanic Garden Lake.jpg
Mt Lofty Botanic Garden Lake, By Wanderer at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Website: https://www.botanicgardens.sa.gov.au/visit/mount-lofty-botanic-garden


Location:Summit Rd or Piccadilly Rd, Crafers SA 5152, Australia.

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 8:30am
Weekends and public holidays 10:00am

Closing hours:
Monday to Friday 4pm
Weekends and public holidays 5pm
Weekends during daylight savings 6pm

Please note:
Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is closed on days when the fire danger rating is severe, extreme or catastrophic.

Contact details:
16 Lampert Road
Piccadilly SA 5151
Access from Summit Road, Crafers and Lampert Road, Piccadilly
GPO Box 1047
Adelaide SA 5001
Phone: (+61 8) 8370 8370

Just 30 minutes drive from the CBD and set in the beautiful Adelaide Hills. The Mount Lofty Botanic Garden is a 239 acre garden with a diverse range of gardens and gullies. Some notable attractions are the Magnolia Gully, South east Asian Gully and the Fern Gully.

The Fern Gully creates the perfect oasis all year round, especially in summer.

Wittunga Botanic Garden 

Website: https://www.botanicgardens.sa.gov.au/visit/wittunga-botanic-garden

Admission: Free

Location: Shepherds Hill Road, Blackwood SA 5051, Australia

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 8:30am
Weekends and public holidays 10:00am

Closing hours:
Monday to Friday 4:00pm
Weekends and public holidays 5:00pm
Weekends during daylight savings 6:00pm

Contact details:
Shepherd’s Hill Road
Blackwood SA 5051
GPO Box 1047
Adelaide SA 5001
Phone: (+61 8) 8370 8370

Just a 25min drive from the CBD of Adelaide, the 32 acre Wittunga Botanic Garden is a hidden gem within Blackwood. Its just a short 4 minute walk to the Coromandel Parade, where there is a good selection of Cafes

They have a large variety of water-wise plants from Australia and South Africa. Which may interest those trying to reduce water bills. 

A notable attraction is the Butterfly Garden and fynbos display. It’s also great for bird watchers!