12 Best Types Of Digging Tools – Which Do You Need?

Digging tools can be used for a variety of purposes, from gardening to mining. The type of digging tool you need will depend on what you are doing and where you are digging. In this article, I will introduce you to 12 different types of digging tools with descriptions and some practical application ideas.

Some common types of digging tools 


A trowel is a small hand tool with a handle that has a blade at one end and an edge on the other. It is designed to be held in the palm of the hand while digging holes for planting, sowing seeds or bulbs. They are used in gardening, archaeology and construction.

Trowels come in all sizes; the size is designated by their length in inches (example: a 10" trowel). Trowels used for digging holes or trenches are typically shorter than those used to plant small plants. While there is no industry standard for trowel sizes, below is a table with some common sizes and their uses.

Trowels are generally made from non-rusting metal (stainless steel, fabric or aluminum) although plastic ones have also become popular. They can vary in length from 4 to 12 inches. Trowels often have a pointed blade edge at the end of the blade, which makes it easier to dig and clean small holes.


Spoons are a popular digging tool, especially among children. They can help you dig holes in the ground for planting or transplanting small plants. Most spoons have four sides with sharp edges and a point on one end that can be used to break up hard surfaces like rock or clay. The pointed end is also used for digging or scooping dirt.

Spoons are made out of a variety of materials including metal, wood and plastic. They have handles that can be either round or flat; handles will vary in length depending on their purpose. Spoons can be used to dig holes, move dirt, plant flowers and crops or remove rocks.

Planting Auger

A planting auger is a tool used to plant trees or shrubs. They come in different sizes, ranging from small (for transplanting smaller plants) to large tools big enough for planting large trees and landscaping.

A planting auger has a metal blade that is sharpened at the end; this part can be pushed into the ground to create a small hole for planting.  As the blade is pushed into the ground, it rotates and creates a hole deep enough to plant a sapling or shrub. Augers are used in landscaping, forestry, nurseries and other horticulture industries.

An auger can be made of metal or plastic. Some have handles attached to the blade that allow for more leverage during digging.

Augers are used on a variety of things including trees, plants and shrubs; they can also be used in constructing fences and buildings.

Tamping Iron

A tamping iron is a tool that resembles an axe with a sharp point and a handle. They are used to break up soil, clay or other hard surfaces like rock. Tamping irons are also known as mattocks although they can mean different things in some countries.

Tamping irons were mostly used in the gold mining industry to break up hard materials like rock and clay. They were used extensively in the early 1900s, particularly during the California Gold Rush. Tamping irons are still used by farmers to break up soil for planting crops; they can be also used as heavy hammers.

Tamping irons are made of metal (usually steel) and have a sharpened blade on the end. The handle is made of wooden, metal or plastic material.

Tamping irons are mostly used to remove hard soil so that other materials like fertilizers, seeds and plants can be added; they have also been used for breaking up foundations during building construction. They can be used in many situations, including gardening and landscaping.

Garden Fork

A garden fork is a tool used to dig up dirt, plant seeds and pull weeds. Garden forks are usually made from metal or plastic and have three or four prongs that curve slightly toward the tip. The ends of the prong are designed for digging small holes while the middle part can be used to push dirt out. A garden fork is also known as a pitchfork or spading fork.

A garden fork is an outdoor, manual tool that can be used in the garden, greenhouse and farm setting for planting seeds and vegetables, removing weeds and digging holes.  It has three or four curved prongs that are attached to a long metal handle and can be moved by hand.

Garden forks are used in more manual situations such as digging holes for planting seeds, cleaning up small rocks or weeds; they can be used to prepare the soil for future crops.

Garden forks are usually made from metallic, sharp and pointed prongs attached to a long wooden handle. Prongs can be attached in straight lines or curved, and can move independently.

Power Tillers

A power tiller is a tool that looks like a gardener's hoe with an attached motor (or engines). They are used for broad areas of land and for removing rocks or weeds.  Power tillers loosen soil, weed and kill unwanted plants while they can also be used to dig small holes in the ground.

Power tillers are motorized machines that attach to garden hoes, shovels and rakes. They have rotating blades or tines that loosen/till soil, remove weeds and kill unwanted plants; these tools will allow you to work on a wider area than standard hoes.

The turning blade of the power tiller can turn over soil, but can also tear up roots of plants it finds; this tool is very useful because it does not have to be moved back and forth like a hand tiller, which saves time.

Garden Hoe

A garden hoe has a flat blade attached to a long wooden handle with two prongs on the opposite end. It is used for weeding (removing grass) in a garden or small area of land; it can also be used to dig into hard soil, loosen it and remove rocks.

The garden hoe is a manual, outdoor tool made of plastic, metal or wood that can be used in the garden, greenhouse or farm setting for digging holes, removing weeds or moving dirt.

Hoes are usually used alongside other tools such as shovels and rakes.

A mattock is similar to a hoe, but it has a heavy head on one end and a pointed blade on the other. A mattock is used to break up hard materials such as clay or rock. It can also be used for digging up small areas of land.

A mattock is a manual, outdoor tool that is usually made of metal or wood with an attached blade or heavy head on one end and a handle on the other. It is used to break up soil, rocks or other hard materials; it can also be used in construction for removing foundations.


Spades are a digging tool used to loosen soil and break up rocks. They can be used for gardening, but spades are typically designed with a longer handle so that they can be used when bending from the waist. The word "spade" comes from the Greek word "spad-" which means "to dig."

Spades are usually made of metal and have a flat blade with a sharpened edge. Their blades can vary in length between 2 to 7 inches long.

Spade handles can also vary in length, but typically they are 12 inches to 20 inches long. Handles on most spades are round or D-shaped and made out of wood or metal.

Types of spades include:  round point, square point, and D-point.

Post Hole Digger

A post hole digger (or auger) is a tool used to dig holes in the ground. It may be difficult  to distinguish it from a shovel, but look for the handle that comes out of its bottom; if you want to go even more specific, look for what they are most often used for - digging holes for fence posts.

Nowadays there are some models of post hole diggers that will even have a safety locking mechanism to prevent users from getting any part of their body trapped in the blade when they are digging holes. Others will be made with sharpened teeth on the blade that allow it to cut through roots or rocks; this model is also known as a hand auger.

A post hole digger is also very useful for digging holes (duh) for plants to be put in the ground, or when you just need to make another hole for any reason. They can be used with all types of soil: clay, sand or rock. A typical post hole digger is 10 to 16 inches long, and has a handle that is either straight or bent; the hole cutter on it will have round or flat openings.


Scrapers (sometimes referred to as end scrapers, side scrapers or heavy duty scrapers) were made using flint or obsidian and have a sharp edge that was usually used to scrape hides and wood. They are found most often in the Eastern Woodlands region of North America; although this type of tool has been found further west as well, it is more commonly found in the Northeast.

The flint versions of scrapers are often called end scrapers because they appear to be made from the tips of projectile points and other tools. They are designed to clean animal hides, especially thin ones like rabbit and squirrel skins. Scrapers could have been also used to scrape a habitat or place where animals nested or buried food.

Nowadays scrapers are typically made of steel and have a wide blade that is sharpened all around its edge. They are usually about 8 inches long and have a plastic or wooden handle. Their longer blades can be used to dig and smooth hide, wood, clay, or other materials; they are also very useful for scraping old paint from walls.

Types of scrapers include:  end scraper, side scraper and heavy duty scraper. 

Digging Knife

A digging knife, also known as a French shovel is a tool that can be used to dig holes and trenches. It has an elongated handle and a spade-shaped blade designed for quickly making many small cuts.

The blade of the digging knife has a long tapered point which is useful for loosening the soil on rocky terrain or getting underneath plant roots. Some digging knives will have a flat blade on one side and sharpened edge on the other; but some may only have one sharpened edge.

There are several theories about how digging knives were probably used, from just stabbing the earth with them to scrape off dirt like a hoe or shovel would, to using it for cutting the roots of trees or plants.

Folding Shovel

A folding shovel is a tool that helps you dig faster by providing two separate blades. They were first designed in the early 1900s to make digging and tree planting easier for soldiers; they can be very helpful at making certain jobs much simpler.

Unlike most other kinds of shovels, this kind folds together and has an average handle length of approximately 16 inches (or 40 cm). One end of the folding shovel has a spade-shaped blade with long sharp edges that can cut through solid ground, and the other end is usually sharpened.

They are made of strong tools such as steel or aluminum to ensure that they don't break easily; these tools allow for flexibility and strength in all terrains.

Folding shovels are best for digging small holes, and can be very useful when dealing with rock or root filled soil. They allow for a great deal of flexibility in the dirt you're able to dig up because of their long handles; but they also have sharp tips on both ends that make it possible to scratch deeper underneath the earth.


- What do I use to dig deep ditches and trenches?

A deep ditch or trench is usually going to be made by a backhoe, so you won't need any tools for that. But if you just want to dig holes in the ground for entertainment purposes, then a regular shovel will be perfect.

- Where can I buy a digging knife?

You definitely have some options when it comes to buying shovels, because there are so many different places you can go. Hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe's are very common; these kinds of stores will have various sizes of different types of folding shovels for sale. Even if they don't carry the exact one you want, they can probably order it for you.

- Why did trowels used to have holes in them?

When there were still people alive centuries ago, it was very common for them to use trowels. It's possible that the reason they would add small holes into the shovels is because the dirt or mud on the ground wouldn't get stuck in between their fingers when they were using the trowel. But nowadays, people have better ways of keeping mud from sticking to them, so holes aren't really needed anymore.


I hope this article was helpful in explaining some of the common types of digging tools. These 12 tools are commonly used in farming, gardening, and landscaping projects. I'm looking forward to hearing what you think about these tips!

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